There are a number of pre-trial hearings that take place before a trial can begin.

Committal Mention hearing

The committal mention hearing is held at a Magistrates’ Court. This is a short administrative hearing to clarify the number of witnesses and the length and date of the committal hearing.

An accused may elect for the matter to go directly to the County Court or Supreme Court without testing the evidence at a committal hearing.

Committal hearing

The committal hearing is held in the Magistrates’ Court. At this hearing, the magistrate will decide if there is enough evidence to send the accused person to the County Court or the Supreme Court for trial.

All the relevant evidence is presented to the magistrate by the prosecution. Some witnesses may be required to appear in person to give evidence and be cross-examined by the defence barrister. Not all witnesses who make a statement are required to give evidence at the committal hearing. Their statement will be included in the brief of evidence which is provided to the magistrate.

If the magistrate decides there is enough evidence, the matter will be listed for trial in the County Court or Supreme Court.

Sometimes the magistrate will decide that there is not enough evidence for the matter to go to trial and charges against the person will not go ahead. The Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) will review these matters and in some instances the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) may decide to take the accused person to trial.