There are two main Courts in the Northern Territory, referred to as the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court. All criminal law matters result in you firstly being summoned to appear in the Magistrates Court. The Magistrates Court is a generic term in the Northern Territory and covers several courts which have jurisdiction to hear certain matters such as the Juvenile Court, the Court of Summary Jurisdiction, the Local Court, the Family Matters Court, the Small Claims Court, and the Work Health Court. Criminal matters are dealt with primarily in the Court of Summary Jurisdiction, or the Youth Justice Court depending on the offender’s age. Serious matters such as murder, manslaughter, sexual offences, and other indictable offences are referred up to the Supreme Court after the committal hearing. There are 14 Magistrates in the Northern Territory that preside over the various Courts. Nine are based in Darwin, four are in Alice Springs, and one is based in Katherine. These Magistrates also attend on the circuit court visiting outlying areas, and communities throughout the Northern Territory.
The Court of Summary Jurisdiction NT
The Court of Summary Jurisdiction is part of the Local Court. The Court hears simple criminal offences, and can also hear applications for intervention orders. If you have been charged with an indictable offence you will first appear in this Court where a preliminary hearing of the evidence will be undertaken by the Magistrate. If there is sufficient evidence for a trial to proceed, the matter will be committed to the Supreme Court. This is known as a Committal Hearing. If you plead guilty to an indictable offence the Magistrate will refer the matter to the Supreme Court for Sentencing.
The Youth Justice Court NT
The Youth Justice Court was established to assist young offenders who have been charged with a criminal offence. Though a person under the age of 18 can still have their matter referred to the Supreme Court if it is considered to be particularly serious. There are also Youth Diversion Programs that are aimed at treating young offenders, encourage parental responsibility, and assist in reduction of crime through promoting positive social change. When a young offender is charged the Police may recommend the person enters a diversion program. The program will involve the young person having a case management plan developed which may include meeting with the victim, participating in community service, and undertaking counselling programs. If the young person successfully completes the diversion program the Magistrate will then not make any further Orders relating to that offence.
The Supreme Court NT
The Supreme Court sits at Darwin and Alice Springs, and determines indictable offences in the Northern Territory. These are criminal offences of a serious nature, and all trials will be heard in front of a jury of 12 people. The Supreme Court also hears appeals from the Magistrates Court which consist of one Judge. Further appeals are then made to the Full Court of the Supreme Court which consists of 3 or more Judges.
Alcohol Protection Orders NT
The Northern Territory has introduced legislation that allows the police to issue an on the spot Alcohol Protection Order (APO) for certain alcohol related criminal offences. An APO can be issued if a person is charged with a qualifying offence, which is one which is punishable by six months imprisonment or more, and where the belief is that the person was affected by alcohol at the time off an offence. An APO prevents someone from possessing alcohol, consuming alcohol, and entering a licensed premise. It is also an offence to supply a person who is on an APO with alcohol. The penalties for breaching an APO can incur a fine of around $3,600, and three months imprisonment. The police will normally issue an APO for three months, but if you breach it during this time it will be extended to a further 12 months. If the police reasonably believe you are subject to an APO they can stop, and detain you, for the purpose of administering a breath test and search you, and your possessions.