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A Guide To The Court Process

The Court process can be daunting and complex. At Robinson Law, we have years of experience and knowledge and can help you to navigate through the entire process from commencement to finalisation. We have written a guide to help outline the basics of the Court process in a very simplified way.  Please note that as this is only a brief explanation of the criminal Court process, we urge you to seek legal advice to be able to comprehensively understand these concepts and to be able to ask any questions that you require. We are available 24/7 to discuss the Court process and assist you however you need.

Police Investigation 

When the police receive a complaint, they have a duty to investigate that complaint. If you are subject to a complaint, the police will contact you to ask you to come in to the station for an interview. We have written a separate Police Interview Guide which you can access here. If police ask you to attend the station for an electronic record of interview, it is important to exercise your right to silence because anything you say can and will be used against you in Court as evidence. You can let the police know that you will not be attending an interview and that you will be exercising your right to silence. If you do not wish to correspond with police directly, you can have a solicitor contact the police on your behalf to relay this information. Sometimes the police will require you to attend the station to state on record that you are declining to participate in an interview. 

The police will come to a conclusion in their investigation and they will either find that they have enough evidence, in their view, to meet the elements of the offence/s to charge you or alternatively, they will close the investigation and the investigation will come to an end. It is important to remember that just because the police hold the view that they have enough evidence to charge you, this does not mean that you are guilty of the offence nor does it mean that there is enough evidence to actually proceed with the charge once it is before a Court, or enough evidence to persuade a jury to find you guilty of the charge. 

Being Charged

If the Police hold the view that they have enough evidence to charge you for an offence, they will contact you to attend the station to be charged. This involves the police taking your fingerprints and photographs (mugshots) and possibly your DNA if they require it depending on the nature of the charge. The police will process you and give you a Notice to Appear which is a small rectangular piece of paper that states your charges and your Court date. The police will either release you on bail or they will remand you in custody at the watchhouse until your Court date. If you need to make an application for bail, you should contact a solicitor urgently to assist with preparing your bail application.

Attending Court

You will be required to attend Court on the date that your matter is listed for first mention. Whether you have a lawyer or not, you are required to be present on the first Court date so that you can enter into a Bail Undertaking at Court (that is, if you are not on remand in custody). 

It is imperative that you seek legal advice prior to going to Court. Your solicitor will email Police Prosecutions in advance and obtain a copy of the QP9 Material and your criminal and/or traffic history (if you have one) in advance, so that you have this material before attending Court. The QP9 material is the paperwork that states all of your charges and the Police’s version of the allegations made against you. If you do not have a solicitor and you are self-represented, you will be able to obtain this material from the Police Prosecutor on the day of Court.

Entering a Plea 

You have the option on the day of Court to either adjourn your matter, list the matter for a sentence if you are pleading guilty, list the matter for case conferencing if you are contesting the matter, or to plead guilty to the matter on the day and have it resolved on the same date.

You are only going to be able to deal with a matter by way of a sentence on the first Court date if it will take less than 15 minutes, otherwise it will be considered a “lengthy plea” and you will have to ask the Court for a lengthy plea date on a day that the Court has specifically set aside time for your sentence.

Contesting a Matter   

If you are contesting your matter, you will need to tell the Court that you require your matter to be adjourned to the Case Conferencing stream. This will allow time for you to seek legal advice and have your solicitor send Police Prosecutions a submission in respect to downgrading or withdrawing your charges. You must be aware that case conferencing a matter or listing a matter for trial can ultimately be detrimental to you if you decide to plead guilty later on down the track, as you can lose your benefit of an “early plea”. The benefit of an early plea is a discount that the Court gives defendants for showing remorse and cooperation by pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity. The early plea discount means that you will be given a reduction in the sentence that the Court would otherwise impose if you did not plead guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Once your solicitor has sent a submission to Police Prosecutions, the matter will be adjourned until Police Prosecutions has come to a decision regarding whether to accept or reject the submission. If the submission is accepted, the charge/s will either be withdrawn and struck out and you will be discharged or the charge/s will be downgraded and the matter can then be listed for a sentence and resolved at the earliest opportunity. 

If the submission is rejected, your solicitor can either draft another submission if they decide to try a different approach to the matter or alternatively, you will be in a position to either plead to the charge or to list the matter for a trial. 

If you decide to list the matter for a trial, your solicitor will request the full Brief of Evidence which generally takes a few months for Prosecutions to produce. This is a folder containing all of the evidence that Police Prosecutions have in their possession against you in respect to the charges. This could include photographs, text messages, witness statements, emails or other written correspondence, recorded interviews, Drug Analyst Certificates, police bodycam footage, DNA evidence, telephone call log records, covert telephone records of text messages or telephone calls, mobile telephone Cellebrite, covert camera footage, forensic accounting records, weapon ballistics reports, etc., depending on the nature of the charges. 

Your solicitor and/or barrister will analyse the evidence and conference you with respect to giving you advice on your prospects at a trial. If you decide to proceed with running a trial, your matter will be listed for a trial. You will also be given a trial review date which will be several weeks before your trial. This a mention date to allow for you to confirm whether the trial is proceeding or not, which gives you an opportunity to tell the Court before the date of your trial, if you change your mind and decide not to proceed. If your matter is in the Magistrates Court, a trial will be before a Magistrate only. If your matter is in the District Court or Supreme Court, your trial will be before a jury.

Preparing for a Sentence

If you are pleading guilty and your sentence has been listed for a later date, or if you have been found guilty at the conclusion of a trial and your matter has been listed for a sentence, this will allow time for yourself and your solicitor to prepare for your sentence. You may need to engage in counselling with a counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist or see a doctor or other medical health professional/s to obtain a report in respect to your mental health or physical health conditions or any treatments or medications that you may currently be receiving or taking.

You will also need to organise character references from your friends, family or work colleagues/employers. Refer to our Character Reference Guide for information on how to obtain or prepare character references. 

You may also need to draft a letter of apology to the complainant or a letter to the Court to explain your circumstances.

You may need to attend rehabilitation/meetings/courses in respect to drug/alcohol/gambling addiction, domestic violence or anger management.

Some common courses or group therapy organisations that the Court recognises are The Queensland Traffic Offenders Program for driving offences, The Men’s Choosing Change Program for domestic violence offenders, Alcoholics Anonymous for alcohol related offending or Narcotics Anonymous for drug related offending. 

Two major drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities on the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane are WHOS Najara – Sunshine Coast and Brisbane Recovery Services Centre – Moonyah (Salvation Army)

Your solicitor can assess your case and assist you with which material you will need to provide to the Court to most effectively demonstrate your efforts at rehabilitation as well as your good character and remorse. 

This material is the evidence that your defence is relying on to be able to achieve the lowest sentence and best outcome for you, therefore it is important that you are organised. You should organise this material at your earliest convenience and not leave it until right before your Court date as you may run out of time to get copies of everything before your Court date.

Committing Your Matter to a Higher Court

All charges, whether summary or indictable, start off in the Magistrates Court. If your charge is of a serious nature (an indictable charge), your charge will be required to be transferred to the District or Supreme Court. The administrative process of transferring charges to a higher Court is called a Registry Committal.

Upon the Court’s approval of the Registry Committal, the Court will administratively transfer your charge/s to the higher Court.  Up to six months later, an Indictment is presented to the higher Court.  This is a document containing the charges to be heard by the higher Court.  Subsequent to the presentation of the Indictment, you or your solicitor will then be in a position to list your matter for either sentence or trial. If you have a number of charges including summary and indictable charges, the summary charges will need to remain the lower Court as they cannot be transmitted to the higher Court unless and until you have a sentence date for the Indictable matters. Your solicitor can then make a separate application to transmit your summary charges to the same date as your sentence for the Indictable matter in the Higher Court, but only if the summary charges are directly related to the Indictable charges.

Your Sentence or Trial 

When you appear at Court for your sentence or trial, you will need to be aware of Court etiquette and what to do when you appear. We have written a Going To Court Guide which you can access here. 

Lodging An Appeal

If you wish to appeal the decision of the Court after your sentence or trial, you must file a Notice of Appeal within one calendar month of the Court Order.

If you wish to appeal the Court Order, you should seek legal advice urgently so that a solicitor can consider your matter and provide you with advice regarding appealing the decision.

If you do not file an appeal before one calendar month of the Court Order being made, you may lose your right to do so.

Parole Application 

if you are sentenced to a parole eligibility date, you will not be guaranteed release from prison on that date and you will need to make a formal application for parole. This is a complex procedure requiring the collection of references, psychological reports and detailed post-prison release plans, which can be difficult to obtain while you are in custody. You should seek legal advice to assist with this process as well as to get help to access relevant courses which could be a prerequisite for parole release.

If your parole application has been refused, you should contact a solicitor to prepare an application to the Supreme Court for Judicial Review.


If you have a loved one in custody, or if you are preparing to be incarcerated, you can set up a Secure Payment Account to give money to loved ones in custody or you can arrange for your family to set one up once you are incarcerated so that you can access funds for money and personal care items whilst inside. If you have a loved one in custody in Queensland but are unsure of which correctional centre they are located at, you can contact Corrections to find out where they are. Once you find their location, you will be in a position to write them mail. Please be aware that all mail sent to correctional facilities is opened and monitored unless it is marked as Legal Mail because it is sent from a legal practitioner. If you want to organise to visit a loved one in custody or to participate in telephone or video calls, you must complete a personal visitor application (Form 27) and return it to the Correctional Centre you wish to visit. Please note that all telephone and video calls are subject to recording and monitoring.

If you need help or have any questions in respect to any of the above aspects of the Court process, contact our experienced solicitors today for a free consultation.

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