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A Guide To Going To Court

If it is your first time going to Court, you may be apprehensive about what is going to happen or how are you supposed to act. This guide can offer assistance in Court etiquette and important things to remember to make your experience easier. If you are looking for information on how the entire Court process works itself, you can read our guide on the Court Process here.

Dress Formally
It is always a good idea to dress formally and wear closed in shoes as a sign of respect to the Court, the same as you would if you were going to a job interview. You will need to remove your hat and sunglasses before entering the Court. You should cover all tattoos as best you can. Not only it is respectful to the Court and the Magistrate/Judge to dress formally but it will also give the Magistrate/Judge/Jury a good impression of you. It is helpful to wear covered formal office attire as opposed to bright colours or loud/offensive slogans or overly casual/revealing clothing.

Arrive at Court Early
Court generally starts at 9.00 am and the Courthouse itself opens at 8.30 am. By arriving earlier, you are less likely to be stressed and will allow yourself sufficient time to speak to your lawyer/the duty lawyer or other government services (such as domestic violence organisations) if required, and will ensure you are fully prepared before you have to go into Court. 

Bring Your Paperwork in a Folder
You should have a copy of your QP9 material/Brief of Evidence and your sentencing material (character references, medical records, letters from health professionals such as a doctor/psychologist/counsellor etc. and any other material relevant to your sentencing) in a folder so that you can provide the original documents to your lawyer if they don’t already have them. Having the documents organised in a folder prevents them from getting scrunched, torn, folded, damaged or getting wet and prevents them from getting lost and keeps them all in one place for ease of reference. If you are unsure how to have your friends and family draft your character references, you can read our Character Reference Guide here.

Let the Prosecutor and/or Court Volunteers Know When You Arrive
If you are self-representing, you should let the Prosecutor and/Court Volunteers know that you are present at Court when you arrive. The Court Volunteers can assist you to put your name down to see the duty lawyer if required. It is helpful for the Prosecutor to know you are present so that they can organise for your matter to be brought on sooner rather than later and so that they don’t proceed with your matter without you if they do not realise you are present. 

Switch Your Phone Off Before Entering Court
Switching your phone off before entering Court prevents you from finding yourself in an embarrassing situation where your phone is ringing in Court which would no doubt leave a negative impression on the Magistrate or Judge. It is an offence to take photographs or videos inside the Court.

Bow towards the Magistrate/Judge Upon Entry and Exit 
It is a sign of respect to bow towards the Magistrate/Judge upon entry or exit of the Court room. This can be done immediately as you walk in the door upon entry or immediately as you are about to exit out of the room. 

Remain Quiet While Waiting For Your Turn
Stay quiet while seated and waiting for your turn. It is a sign of respect to the Court to not speak and to remain waiting silently. If you need to talk to your lawyer or speak to your family or friends, you should exit the Courtroom and speak to them outside.

Stand Up When the Magistrate is Speaking 
When the Magistrate is addressing you or you are speaking to the Magistrate/entering a plea, you must stand as a sign of respect. When you are not being addressed and not speaking, you must remain seated and silent.

Refer to the Magistrate as “Your Honour”
Always refer to the Magistrate as “Your Honour” when speaking to the Magistrate. Do not speak to the Magistrate unless you are being spoken to and remain silent otherwise. Always be extremely courteous to the Magistrate and never speak back to the Magistrate unless you are directly answering a question that they have put to you specifically. If you are represented, generally it is advisable to remain silent and let your solicitor answer questions, you can whisper any answers to your lawyer and they can answer on your behalf. 

Diarise Dates
If you know that you are going to be adjourning your matter, you should have an idea of the length of the adjournment you are going to need to ask for, that will allow for enough time to be prepared to deal with your matter on the next occasion. This minimises having to come back to Court multiple times if you ask for an adjournment that is not long enough. When the Magistrate gives you your next Court date, you should write it down so that you remember what date you have to appear next time. 

Sign Your Bail
If you are at the first appearance of your matter and if it is not finalised on the same date and you are going to need to return on another date, you will need to enter into a Bail Undertaking before you leave the Court precinct. You will need to wait at the Court Registry or outside the Court room until the Court Clerk or the Court Registry staff call your name to let you know that your bail paperwork is ready to be signed.
They will give you a copy of your signed Bail to take with you. It is an offence to leave the Court precinct without signing your bail. 

If you know your license is going to be disqualified at Court or if you know that you are going to be imprisoned, you will need to organise transport to Court in advance. Do not drive to Court if you know that you are going to lose your license. If you are caught driving disqualified home from Court, your disqualification will be extended by 2-5 years, 2 years being the mandatory minimum disqualification for disqualified driving. 

Get Legal Advice
The legal system and the process of appearing in Court can be daunting and complex. You are not alone and you are not expected to have to go through the process by yourself. The more prepared you are and the more you understand the process, the better equipped you are to deal with your matter and to ensure that you achieve a result that is fair for you. If you have a Court matter approaching and you would like a solicitor present to help you or you simply want to ask questions about the process, contact one of our friendly solicitors and we can assist you with any questions you have.

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