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Local courts deal with summary offences.  Summary offences are offences which:

  • are described as summary offences and have a maximum penalty of no more than two years;
  • are table 1 or table 2 offences for which there has been no election to have the matters dealt with summarily;
  • Information for a summary offence must be laid within six months of the offence being committed.

Generally in all summary proceedings if the defendant pleads not guilty the prosecution must serve on the defendant a full copy of the brief of evidence 14 days before the hearing or such other time as the magistrate determines.

Normally with a summary offence a charge can only be made or laid within 6 months from the time when the matter arose. An accused facing a table 1 offence must be served by the prosecution with a copy of the brief of evidence relating to the offence and a copy of their criminal record if any. It is important for an accused person to bear in mind when deciding whether to have a matter dealt with summarily that the maximum period of imprisonment for a single offence, which can be imposed by the Local Court is 2 years, or 5 years where consecutive sentences are involved, whereas in the District and Supreme Courts there is no such limitation.

Court Proceedings: Costs

Normally costs will not be awarded to a successful defendant unless the investigation was unreasonable or the proceedings were initiated without reasonable cause.

Indictable Proceedings

Dealt with summarily -

Indictable proceedings may be dealt with summarily if they are table 1 or table 2 offences.  The election can only be made before the evidence commences or the facts are tendered. Where an election is made the maximum penalty is generally two years imprisonment. Table 1 offences are generally more serious than table 2 offences.


A committal is an administrative procedure in the local court to determine whether or not a person charged with an indictable offence should be committed for trial or sentence in the district court or supreme court.  Generally committal proceedings are held in open court. At the close of the prosecution's case in a committal the magistrate must determine whether or not there is a prime facie case. If the Magistrate decides that there is a reasonable prospect that a jury would convict, the defendant is committed to either the district or supreme courts.  Costs are generally not awarded.

Onus of Proof

The burden of proof is on the crown to prove each element of the offence beyond reasonable doubt.


Defences are left to the jury which include the following:

  • autrefois convict;
  • duress;
  • fitness to plead;
  • mental illness;
  • necessity;
  • provocation;
  • self-defence
  • substantial impairment by abnormality of mind.

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Court Proceedings Articles

Criminal Law - Apprehended Violence Orders - Court and Penalties

Date: March 10, 2011
Author(s): Frank Egan B.A., LL.B., A.C.L.A., F.T.I.A. (Notary)
The vast majority of the AVOs and PVOs are settled after negotiations and the application can either be withdrawn and dismissed, or an undertaking made not to embark on any form of specified behaviour without admissions, or with an order being made with the consent of both parties with no admissions as to the nature of the facts alleged in the application for an order.

Criminal Law - Sentencing in the Local Court

Date: October 08, 2010
Author(s): LAC Lawyers
Often I am asked by my clients who have been charged with common offences such as assault or drink driving what the likely result will be if they enter a plea of “Guilty”. This is not a question which can be answered with much certainty given that even when to individuals are charged with exactly the same charge, the possible outcome when it comes to that individual’s sentencing can vary according to factors such as in which Local Court the matter is dealt with, which Magistrate determines the sentence, the sentencing options available to the Magistrate and the individual’s subjective circumstances.

Criminal Law - Pleading guilty? Make yourself the favourite!

Date: May 14, 2008
Author(s): LAC Lawyers
In a large number of criminal cases a person will plead guilty. It is then up to his legal representative to submit what is called a plea in mitigation. In other words the advocate will make submissions to the Court for the purpose of obtaining the most lenient sentence possible.

What to expect when you call LAC Lawyers

Date: December 13, 2006
Author(s): LAC Lawyers
LAC Lawyers is a full service firm dedicated to the provision of superior legal services in Australia. Our aim is to provide unrivalled client satisfaction coupled with high quality service and advice. When you call LAC Lawyers our friendly reception staff will spend time with you to identify the area of law your enquiry relates to then pass you on to one of our qualified solicitor's who can help you.

Criminal Law - Sentence and penalty options available to courts if convicted of a criminal offence

Date: September 26, 2005
Author(s): LAC Lawyers
Murder. Bigamy. Robbery. Bushfires. Terrorism. Domestic violence. Computer offences. Concealing the birth of a child. Fraud. Rape. The list of criminal offences for which a person may be convicted in any Australian jurisdiction is extensive.

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