When must I go to Court?
If you are charged with a 'summary offence' and you get a summons, then you should attend the Court. Summary offences include traffic offences, offensive behaviour, minor assaults and property damage. If you do not go to Court, a Magistrate can hear your case and make a decision about any penalties in your absence. When a matter is dealt with in the absence of the accused it is called an ex-parte hearing.
If you are charged with an 'indictable offence' which can be heard in the Magistrates’ Court, you must attend Court or a warrant can be issued for your arrest. Indictable offences are criminal offences and include theft, burglary, the more serious assaults and most of the drug related offences.
If you are on bail then you must attend. If you do not attend court a warrant may be issued for your arrest and you may lose your bail and/or any surety.
What time do I have to be at Court?
The time you must be at court is usually on either your summons, undertaking of bail or advice of hearing notice. It is best if you go to Court at least half an hour prior to this time if you are unfamiliar with the court building, court procedures or you intend to seek legal aid.
What are the Court’s operating hours?
Most major court venues are open between 9:00 am and 4.30 pm, and will usually hear cases between 09:30 am and 1:00 pm at which time the Court adjourns for lunch. The Court then resumes sitting at 2:00 pm until 4:00 pm. Please note there will be some circumstances when this is not practical. Some of the country courts only open on certain days and for different hours.
For more detailed information for each court see Contact Us.
How do I get in touch with outside court users or court support and diversion services?
How do I get legal help?
- call Victoria Legal Aid for free legal help on 9269 0120 or 1800 677 402 (country callers)
- find a community legal centre – see Federation of Community Legal Centres
- find a lawyer near you through the Law Institute of Victoria – see Law Institute of Victoria.
Victoria Legal Aid also provides legal information, advice or representation at court depending on your income, circumstances and the nature of your charges.
Can a matter be heard if I do not go to Court?
If the matter is a ‘summary offence’ then the Court has the power to deal with the matter in your absence. When a matter is dealt with in the absence of the defendant it is called an ex-parte hearing.
Summary offences include traffic offences, offensive behaviour, minor assaults and minor property damage.
Can I bring witnesses to court?
You can summons a witness to court to:
- produce documents
- give evidence and to produce documents.
Witness summonses may be obtained from your local court. Please note there are various fees associated with the issue of summonses. There is no fee payable for the issue of a criminal witness summons if it is issued by or on behalf of the accused.
Am I able to sit in the Courtroom to watch a case the Magistrates' Court?
The Magistrates' Court of Victoria is open to all members of the public. However, the Court can make an order which stops members of the public sitting in the Courtroom for a particular hearing.
If an order is made , only people involved in the case, such as the defendant or Police Informant, are allowed to enter into the Courtroom. A notice will be posted on the door of the Courtroom.
For further information and advice contact the Magistrates' Court where your matter is listed or your nearest court.
Contact details for all Victorian Magistrates' Courts are available under Contact Us.