Criminal Proceedings

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).

Summary proceedings

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  

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. 

Adjourn / transfer a matter 

You may be able to have your case adjourned to a different date or even transferred to a different Court. However you must contact the Criminal co-ordinator before the date of hearing to make the request and relevant arrangements. 

Procedure for a re-hearing 

If your case was heard and determined and you did not attend Court, you may be entitled to a re-hearing of your case. In some situations there is an automatic right to a re-hearing.

The Magistrate is not obliged to grant your application and therefore it is up to you to convince a Magistrate that there is a good reason why you should have your case re-heard.

You should attend court to lodge your application for a re-hearing. The Court Registrar will prepare documentation for you and ensure your application is listed. A rehearing application must be served on the informant (for example a police or council officer) before the hearing date. There is no fee for a re-hearing application in the criminal jurisdiction.

If your licence was affected by the court case in your absence and you need to drive in the meantime, then you may apply to the Court to drive until your application is heard, otherwise you may be charged with a serious offence of driving whilst disqualified/suspended. You can discuss arrangements for applying to continue to drive with the Court Registrar.

An application to drive pending a rehearing application must be served on the informant at least seven days before the application is to be heard.

How do i plead not guilty

You must advise the Court Coordinator’s Office of your intention of pleading not guilty. The case will then not be heard on the date written on your Charge & Summons or Bail bond, however if you are on bail you must come to Court to apply to have your bail extended. A new date will then be set for you to attend Court.

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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