The Criminal Court System in Victoria is composed of the Magistrates Court, the County Court, and Supreme Court which also encompasses the Court of Appeal. The Magistrates Court of Victoria hears all summary offences and some indictable offences. Summary offences include minor assault, minor drug offences, crimes relating to offensive behaviour, and property damage. Indictable offences that can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court include burglary, and theft. It can also conduct committal hearings in relation to serious indictable offences, though these must then be finalised in the County, or Supreme Court. The County Court hears all other indictable offences, except treason and murder, which must be determined in the Supreme Court. Indictable offences include armed robbery, drug trafficking, serious theft, sexual offences, and fraud and dishonesty offences. The County Court also hears appeals arising from the Magistrates Court. When you are charged you will be provided with a Summons to appear. This will list the time, date and court that you need to attend. Failing to attend may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest, and the matter being dealt with in your absence.
VIC Criminal Law Legislation
First time offenders can undertake the Criminal Justice Diversion Program. The program was designed to provide offenders the opportunity to avoid a criminal record by undertaking educational courses, and treatment programs which will benefit the offender, the victim and the community. Participation in the program may require the offender to write an apology to the victim; to participating in community work; to pay a donation to charity; and to undertake counselling, or treatment, if required. If you do already have a conviction, you still may be able to participate in the program depending on when your last offence took place, and the nature of the offence. To be eligible to participate the offence must be able to be trialled summarily, not subject to a fixed sentence, and you must take responsibility for the offence.
Criminal Justice Diversion Program
While the above two mentioned Acts outline the types of penalties for a particular criminal offence. The Sentencing Act 1997 governs the types of penalties that can be imposed for a criminal offence in Tasmania. The court can impose a single penalty, or a mixed sentence depending on the nature, and circumstance of the offence. You can also be found guilty, and have a penalty imposed, but not have a conviction recorded. Types of penalties that can be imposed include a custodial sentence, a suspended sentence, drug treatment order, community service order, probation order, and fines. The Act also outlines the sentencing procedures that the Courts must follow in deciding a suitable penalty, and includes in some circumstances, the need for a pre-sentence report, or mediation report. A mediation report involves the victim agreeing to meet with the offender to discuss the actions to be taken by the offender by way of reparation.
Applying for a Rehearing in VIC
If you failed to attend court, and the matter was determined in your absence then in some circumstances you may be able to apply for your matter to be reheard. There is no automatic right to a rehearing, and you must convince the magistrate there is a good reason why you didn’t attend, and a different outcome will be achieved. You must also file a copy of the application on the informant (i.e. police officer who laid the charges) seven days prior to the application being reheard. If your application is accepted, the Magistrate will either rehear the matter straight away, or adjourn it to another day.
Criminal Appeals in VIC
All appeals must be lodged within 28 days. Appeals from the Magistrates Court are made to the County Court ,and can be made against a conviction or sentence. If you are appealing against a term of imprisonment you will also need to make an application for bail to the Magistrates Court. Appeals resulting from a County Court, or Supreme Court, decision are made in the Court of Appeal, a division of the Supreme Court. There is only a right of appeal if the matter has already been appealed from the Magistrates Court to the County Court, if the County Court imposed a custodial sentence. Any appeal to the Court of Appeal requires leave before the matter will be heard. If leave is granted then the matter will be heard by two or three judges.