The criminal jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria hears and determines all summary offences and some indictable offences. The Court also conducts committal hearings in relation to more serious indictable offences that must be finally determined in the County or Supreme Courts. The criminal jurisdiction primarily deals with police prosecutions, but also deals with prosecutions by various other prosecuting agencies including Corrections Victoria, Department of Primary Industry, local councils, VicRoads and Victorian WorkCover Authority (WorkSafe).
To view a mock court hearing in the criminal jurisdiction, view a virtual tour of a courtroom in a criminal hearing, and for tips on appearing in court and points to consider before a hearing, please look at our Virtual Court Site, link available under Related Pages.
Summary proceedings are those of a less serious nature which are heard by a magistrate. They include traffic offences, minor assaults, property damage and offensive behaviour. Some summary proceedings can be dealt with in the absence of the accused if the magistrate deems it appropriate. These are called ex parte hearings.
Indictable proceedings are those of a more serious nature which may be heard by a judge and jury of the County or Supreme Courts. These charges cannot be heard in the absence of the accused. Failure to attend a hearing by the accused may result in the issue of a warrant to arrest. Certain indictable offences may be heard and determined by a magistrate with the accused’s consent. These offences include burglary and theft. Some indictable offences must be heard by a higher jurisdiction regardless of the wishes of the accused, for example, murder and rape.
Before a magistrate finds a person guilty of criminal offences, he or she must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the person’s guilt.