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TRIALS

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OVERVIEW

When you are charged with an indictable or strictly indictable offence, and you have entered a plea of not guilty in the Local Court to the offence or offences, you will proceed down the EAGP path. This is assuming the prosecution has made an election for your matter to be dealt with by the Department of Public Prosecutions. “EAGP” stands for “Early Appropriate Guilty Plea”.

Following complete service of the brief of evidence, the Department of Public Prosecution will then file a Charge Certificate which confirms they are confident there is sufficient evidence to continue with a trial in the matter. If you still maintain a plea of not guilty at this point, the Local Court will direct the defence and prosecution to participate in a Case Conference to either negotiate a plea of guilty to some of the offences or appropriate alternatives. Case Conferencing is also an opportunity for the defence and prosecution to discuss the issues for trial, if you instruct your lawyer and/or barrister that you do not agree with the allegations and you do not want to make a guilty plea offer.

Once the parties have completed Case Conferencing, there will be another mention date in the Local Court where you will indicate the outcome of the Case Conference and the Court will give further directions as to how your matter will be committed to the District Court. If you enter a plea of guilty in the Local Court, your matter will be committed to the District Court for sentence and you will preserve your 25% discount in sentence. If you maintain your plea of not guilty, your matter will be committed to the District Court to obtain a trial date. Further procedural applications may be made by the prosecution or defence prior to the trial commencing. For example, the trial may be conducted with or without a jury, or if there are multiple co-accused persons, there may be applications to have their respective trials dealt with separately (severing the indictment). There would also likely be preliminary hearings to determine arguments for the admissibility of evidence.

In most NSW criminal trials, there will be a jury of 12 members from the community present at your trial. They will be randomly selected from a large group of people. The jury members play an important function in the trial process as they are the “triers of fact” in the case. They listen to the evidence raised by the prosecution and defence, hear the arguments, and receive directions from the trial judge about how to consider the evidence led at trial. Once the trial has been summed up, the jury members deliberate on the matter and decide whether the accused person is guilty or not guilty.

Trials can last days, weeks or months, depending on the issues, number of accused persons, number of witnesses, and the volume of evidence, amongst other factors. It is important that you obtain legal advice and a lawyer to represent you in Court if your matter is proceeding to a trial. It is also important to consider briefing a barrister for your trial so your lawyer and barrister can carefully prepare and present your case.

 

At KF Lawyers, we have experience in diligently preparing for and appearing in criminal trials. We work alongside esteemed Counsel who regularly appear as advocates in complex criminal matters and who are skilled in cross-examination. If you are charged with an indictable or strictly indictable matter, please contact KF Lawyers to obtain tailored advice and discuss your options.

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