Court Proceedings

When a case is before the courts of law, a prosecutor/state advocate working for the DPP will present the prosecution case.   He or she will then call the witnesses one at a time.  When the prosecutor calls you as a witness, the law says that you must tell the truth.

What happens when a case is taken to Court?

For all criminal matters, including those triable by the High Court, the Subordinate Court is the first point of contact with the Court system. When cases are first brought to the Subordinate Court, the Chief Resident Magistrate assigns them to the various magistrates. Once the cases have been assigned, each case is called, and the charge in each case is read and explained to the accused in a language that they understand. The accused will then decide whether or not to plead guilty. When an offence is triable by the Subordinate Court and the accused person pleads not guilty, a trial date is set. When the accused admits to the charge, the facts of the case describing the offence are presented and the accused is then convicted and sentenced.

Procedure for matters triable in the High Court

After the charge is explained and read to the accused person in the subordinate court, it is committed to the High Court for trial as a summary trial case.. The High Court then generates a cause list for the accused persons to appear in court on a specific date.

What happens where there is no Committal Certificate?

Where there is a delay in the issuance of a committal certificate, the subordinate Court may conduct a preliminary inquiry to inquire into the case and determine whether there is sufficient evidence in the case to warrant a trial before the High Court. If the Subordinate court believes the evidence is sufficient, it will commit the case to the High Court for trial. If there is insufficient evidence, the accused person will be discharged. However, the discharge does not preclude a subsequent charge based on the same facts for which the accused was arrested. Whilst the preliminary inquiry is ongoing, the DPP can still issue a committal certificate; if this occurs, the Court will discontinue the inquiry and commit the accused to the High Court immediately.

If I am a witness, how am I called to give evidence?

You will receive a witness summons from the court. The witness summons is an order from the court for you to give evidence at a particular time and place. Failure to comply to the court order is an offence.

Trial Process

When an accused person pleads not guilty, the trial begins. The prosecution will begin by calling all available witnesses in the case to testify. Physical evidence can also presented by the prosecution to be admitted into evidence to support the prosecution’s case. If the Court is satisfied that the evidence presented before it appears to be sufficient to convict the accused, the accused will be found with a case to answer and put on his defence. However, if the Court believes that the evidence is insufficient to find the accused with a case to answer, the accused is acquitted.

When the accused is put on his defence, his rights are explained, and he is free to call any witness. The accused may choose to remain silent or respond to the allegations leveled against him. When the accused concludes his or her defence, the trial is closed and the court adjourns for judgment. The court may convict or acquit based on the evidence.