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Summary Hearings

Many offences set out in the Crimes Act, Misuse of Drugs Act, Summary Offences Act and other legislation are heard in the District Court before Judges alone and not juries.

Members of Guardian Chambers realise that while some charges may not be suitable for trial hearings they are still of deep concern to our clients and we always do our utmost to secure the best possible result whether that be a dismissal of the charges or a fair sentence.

The first court appearance in the District Court is usually to determine if you will be pleading guilty or not guilty. Sometimes matters can be further adjourned in order for the police to provide further disclosure to allow your lawyer to assess your chances of success. Barristers at Guardian Chambers will not give final advice on the strength of the evidence until the Police provide them with full disclosure.

Sometimes charges need to be negotiated with the Police and the matter will then need to be adjourned to a status hearing which allows for negotiations to take place between the Police and your lawyer. At the status hearing the Judge will become part of the discussions that could lead to the case being resolved one way or another. Although many cases do resolve at the status hearing point that is not always possible and matters often need to be further adjourned for a defended hearing which involves witnesses being called by the Police who are cross-examined by your lawyer in an attempt to secure a dismissal of the charge.

Many offences can only be heard in the District Court by a Judge alone but with others the client has a choice to defend it before a judge alone or in front of a jury. That decision is made following consultation with your Barrister who will provide you with clear and sound advice about which forum (judge alone or jury) is more suitable for the hearing of your matter. The nature of the case and its circumstances will be considered very carefully before a client is advised whether a judge alone or a jury is more appropriate.

In general, when a client is charged with an offence which has a maximum penalty of between 6 months and 10 years imprisonment, they have a choice of a judge alone or a jury to decide their case. Cases involving theft, receiving stolen property, burglary, minor assaults, and even indecent assault are examples of cases that could be heard by a judge alone or a jury. Whatever the decision and however the case is heard, Barristers at Guardian Chambers will apply their considerable skill to ensuring that a client receives the best possible result.