Magistrates' court


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Magistrates' court

  1. 1. The cartoon on the next slide depicts a number of situations with thepotential to result in a dispute. Look carefully at the cartoon and identifythe different types of dispute illustrated. Will these disputes be treated ascivil or criminal matters?
  2. 2. Some definitions Original jurisdiction - Authority to hear a case for the first time Appellate jurisdiction - authority to hear appeals Criminal Law - Law relating to an act or omission that offends against anexisting law, is harmful to an individual or society as a whole, and is punishable by law.Civil law - Law relating to disputes between two individuals or groups, where oneindividual’s or groups rights have been infringed and the injured party is seeking a remedy
  3. 3. Summary offence - Minor offences, such as shoplifting, trafficoffences, minor assault, possession of small quantities of illegaldrugsIndictable offences - A serious offence that can be heard before ajudge and jury
  4. 4. A virtual tour - virtual_tour/magistrates-court-vic.html
  5. 5. FunctionIt is the busiest court in Victoria, accounting for approximately 90 per cent ofcourt appearances. The court hears approximately 250 000 criminal and civilcases every year.The Magistrates’ Court also hears committal proceedings to establish whether theevidence in criminal cases that are to go to the County Court or Supreme Courtfor trial is of sufficient weight to support a conviction. The overwhelming majorityof criminal cases are, in fact, heard in the Magistrates’ Court. Those that go to ahigher court for trial usually begin in the Magistrates’ Court with committalproceedings.
  6. 6. Original Criminal Jurisdiction• summary offences (minor offences)• indictable offences heard summarily (more serious offences)• committal proceedings (pre-trial procedures)• bail applications (released on conditions prior to going to trial)• issuing warrants (order usually for arrest or search) (one magistrate)
  7. 7. Summary offencesSummary offences are minor criminal offences. For example, road traffic offencessuch as careless driving, minor assault, property damage and offensive behaviour.Some summary matters can be dealt with in the absence of the accused if themagistrate deems it appropriate. These are called ex-parte hearings.
  8. 8. Indictable offences heard and determined summarilyIndictable offences are serious offences that can be heard before a judge and jury in thesuperior courts including the County Court and the Supreme Court. The less-seriousindictable offences that are heard in the Magistratesʼ Court are known as indictableoffences heard and determined summarily.For an indictable offence to be heard summarily the following must occur:• Prosecutor must agree• The court must be satisfied that the matter is suitable for hearing summarily (not tooserious or complicated)•The accused must consent to the matter being dealt with summarily. An accused personmay prefer to have an indictable offence heard in the County Court before a jury, but thiswould involve the possibility of higher penalties and higher costs and delays.
  9. 9. Committal hearingsCommittal hearings (also known as preliminary hearings) are pre-trial procedures used for indictable offences that are not being heardsummarily. Their aim is to establish a prima facie case; that is, onthe face of it, that the evidence is of sufficient weight to support aconviction by a jury at trial. The aim is to avoid a full trial in caseswhen there is insufficient evidence to support a conviction.
  10. 10. Civil jurisdiction The Magistrates’ Court hears all civil disputes up to $100 000 including: • motor vehicle accident claims • disputes about a contract • claims under torts such as negligence, trespass and defamation • personal injury claims.The Magistrates’ Court must refer complaints in which the amount of money soughtis less than $10 000 to arbitration.Even though the Magistrates’ Court is a state court and the Family Court is afederal court, the Magistrates’ Court has jurisdiction to operate as a Family Court incertain matters. Anyone heard of beetlejuice?
  11. 11. Appellate JurisdictionThe Magistrates’ Court has no Appellate Jurisdiction because it isthe lowest on the court hierarchy
  12. 12. Specialist Divisions of the Magistrates’ CourtDrug Court Division Family Violence Division Koori Court DivisionNeighbourhood Justice Centre Assessment and Referral Court List
  13. 13. For your specialist court: Create a podcast and put on the wiki.You must include the followingA) Explain why the court was createdB) How does the court operate/How is it different?C) What is the Courts Jurisdiction?D) How effective has the court been?