Attending court for a criminal offence can be a scary experience especially if you have no idea what to expect. Kate and Brittany have spent thousands of hours in courtrooms throughout Queensland and helped hundreds of people who are appearing in court for the first time.
Here are some of our top tips for attending court:
- Make sure that you are there on time! It may sound silly, but attending court on time is imperative. If you are not at court when your matter is called on then a warrant may be issued for your arrest and you may be charged with an offence of Failing to Appear. To ensure that you are at court on time, you should ensure that you know which court you are appearing in, make arrangements for transport (often there is limited car parking at court houses) and aim to arrive early.
- Ensure that you have complied with your Identifying Particulars notice. For certain offences, the Queensland Police Service can issue you with a direction to attend a police station within seven days to provide your fingerprints and other identifying particulars. This is often called an “IDP”. It is an offence under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act (Qld) not to comply with this notice.
- Dress appropriately. This is important. Dress tidily in order to show respect to the court. You should wear closed in shoes and conservative clothes. Avoid wearing hi-visibility or dirty work clothes, if possible.
- Make sure you check in. The process of checking in is different between courts. In some courts, you will need to speak to a court support officer and in other courts you will need to speak to a prosecutor or duty lawyer. If you do not check in, then you could end up waiting all day until the court are calling over the non-appearance matters.
- Make arrangements for legal representation and/or advice before you attend court. The courts will often accommodate adjournment requests to obtain legal advice. However, you should not count on the court adjourning your matter on this basis. If you have not obtained legal advice prior to your court date, you can speak to the duty lawyer at court on the day unless you are charged with a traffic matter. It is important that you obtain legal advice before you attend court. Certain offences carry specific sentencing penalties. For example, drink driving will require that your licence be disqualified and certain police obstruction charges require mandatory community service.
- Be prepared for your matter to be adjourned if it is going to be a lengthy court hearing. Courts do not hear trials at the first mention. If you are pleading guilty, but the sentence hearing is going to be lengthy, then the court is also likely to adjourn your matter to a date when the court has time to hear it. Most matters are listed on a “callover day” which is when the court hears all matters to determine how they are going to proceed (ie, whether they are contested or further legal advice is required).
People present before the Magistrates Courts with a variety of different charges and situations. Our solicitors believe that everyone is entitled to good representation and respect by all parties involved in the process. Taking on board these suggestions may help to make your court appearance a less stressful experience. If you require assistance or need to discuss your matters, you can speak to one of our solicitors by calling 07 3401 9788 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org