Menu
Our Locations

Brisbane
Level 6, 140 Ann St
(07) 3221 4999

Gold Coast
44 Davenport St, Southport
(07) 5532 3133

 

Going to Court - Minor Offence with Not Guilty Plea - VIRTUAL TOUR

This part of our website has been designed to inform you about the process involved when you go to court.* It has been designed so that you may choose from a number of different tours that will take you from the first court date to the completion of your matter with sentencing. To ensure we direct you to the right tour, please indicate whether you have been charged with a minor criminal offence or a major criminal offence.

If you are unsure, you may find your further information on your charge by clicking here and then clicking on the relevant charge from our list.

Choose the right Option for your Tour:

 

            Minor                            Major

 

*The tours on this website guide you through the court process as it generally occurs.  It is important to note that the process you in fact experience may be somewhat different, as it is not viable for us to address every possible variable that could alter the exact path your matter will take. The information contained in this page was accurate at the time it was published. You should confirm the accuracy of this information with us or another solicitor before relying upon it.

Minor Offence

You have indicated that you have been charged with a minor offence. To ensure we direct you to the right tour, please now indicate whether you intend to plead guilty or not guilty?

You should consider this question carefully as the court will normally discount any sentence if you plead guilty. Accordingly, if you plead not guilty but are found guilty at your Trial, your sentence would be more severe than if you had of entered a plea of guilty.

If you are in any doubt whether you should plead guilty or not guilty, you should seek an adjournment of your matter to be mentioned on another date and obtain legal advice. 

Choose the right Option for your Tour: 

            Guilty                            Not Guilty

The information contained in this page was accurate at the time it was published. You should confirm the accuracy of this information with us or another solicitor before relying upon it.

Not Guilty Plea

You have indicated you intend to plead not guilty.  To ensure we direct you on the right tour, please now indicate whether you intend to be represented by a Solicitor or not.

Your experience of the court process will be somewhat different depending on whether you are represented by a Solicitor or not.  If you are unrepresented, you will be required to address the Court more substantially than you would if you were represented by a Solicitor.

Choose the right Option for your Tour: 

            Represented                  Unrepresented

The information contained in this page was accurate at the time it was published. You should confirm the accuracy of this information with us or another solicitor before relying upon it.

Represented

If you are represented by a solicitor generally you will not have to say or do anything.  The following procedure will take place:

Mentions

The term 'mention' merely describes a time when a Magistrate addresses your particular matter in the Court.  If you are represented you will generally only be required to attend the First Mention of your matter.

First Mention

In Queensland, traffic matters and simple or minor offences (such as those under the Summary Offence Act Queensland or Police Powers and Responsibilities Act Queensland) are mentioned before a Magistrate. The First Mention of your matter is generally a simple procedural occurrence so that your Solicitor may inform the Magistrate how you intend to proceed.

When your matter is mentioned your Solicitor will direct you to stand up so the Magistrate can see who they are dealing with. At this time, the Magistrate will ask your Solicitor whether you want to plead guilty, not guilty or whether you would like to adjourn your matter to another date.

Your Solicitor may suggest that you adjourn your matter to another date so that further information can be gathered.  Sometimes there may be more than one adjournment of your matter, where there are legitimate reasons for doing so. 

Final Mention

On the final date your matter is mentioned, you Solicitor will appear on your behalf and inform the Court that "you plead not guilty" to the charge and a date will be arranged for a hearing of your case.  The Court will also list a date for a review mention of your case. 

Review Mentions

A Review Mention is a procedural date so that the Magistrate can be ensured that the matter is on track for the Hearing.

If you are represented, you will not be required to appear at any Review Mention, rather your Solicitor will attend on your behalf for the purpose of advising the Court on the extent that the Brief of Evidence has been disclosed to us by the prosecution.  

The Brief of Evidence is all the evidence the prosecution have against you in respect of the charge.  The Prosecution are supposed to disclose all of this material to your Solicitor by that review mention date.  However, it is not uncommon that there are multiple Review Mentions in order to obtain disclosure of all the evidence from the Prosecution.

Summary Hearing

You will be required to attend the hearing.  At that time the Prosecution must prove that you are guilty of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. If the Magistrate has a reasonable doubt then they must dismiss the charge. In most cases you do not have to prove anything and you are presumed to be innocent of the offence until proven guilty.

The Prosecution Case

The Police Prosecutor who represents the Police will call witnesses to try and prove that you committed the crime alleged. The process of the Prosecutor questioning the witnesses is called "evidence in chief". Your Solicitor may object to questions asked by the Police Prosecutor in certain circumstances. Unfortunately, going through all of the possible objections available is beyond the limits of this tour.

After the Police Prosecutor has finished asking the witness questions, your Solicitor may "cross examine" the witness.  During cross examination your Solicitor will attempt to break down the witnesses' story. 

After your Solicitor has finished cross examining the witness the Police Prosecutor may "re examine" the witness to clarify any issues.

The process of evidence in chief, followed by cross examination and then re examination will occur for each witness before moving onto the next. After all witnesses have given evidence the Police Prosecutor will close the Police case.

Prima Facie Case

Before you are required to answer the Police case, the Magistrate has to decide whether you could be lawfully convicted of the offence based on taking the evidence presented by the Police Prosecution at its highest value. Your Solicitor may make submissions to the Magistrate as to why you could not be lawfully convicted.

Submissions Why You Should Not Be Convicted

Your Solicitor may make submissions as to why they should not be convicted of an offence without giving evidence. However, once these submissions are made, you may not be allowed to call evidence on your behalf.  This is often called a "no case submission".

Whether you call evidence or not is a difficult decision and should be discussed with your Solicitor and considered carefully.  It is not uncommon for a Defendant to choose not to call evidence, for various reasons and particularly if the Police Prosecution case is weak.

The Defence Case

If you intend to give evidence, then you will normally give evidence first. Your Solicitor will ask you a number of questions so that you give all relevant evidence. Try to relax and recall evidence as you remember the events and keep in mind that rehearsed evidence often sounds artificial, so try to be natural.

Tips for surviving cross examination

Being cross examined can be a very stressful experience. Here are a few tips to assist in making the experience less stressful:

  • Keep your answers as short as possible. If you can, answer questions with "yes" or "no".
  • Do not argue with the Prosecutor.
  • Try not to exaggerate what occurred, as this will often make your version unbelievable.
  • Try not to make speeches.
  • Do not attack the credit of the crown witnesses. If it is necessary to do so, it is job for your Solicitor.
  • If you are unsure as to whether some event took place, it is ok to say "I cannot remember" or "I don't know".
  • Wait a short time before responding to a question so that your Solicitor has time to make an objection, if required. It is also useful to wait a short time to remember accurately.
  • It is ok to ask for a drink of water or a short adjournment so you can compose yourself if you are feeling anxious or upset.
  • If you do not understand a question, it is ok to say so and ask the Prosecutor to repeat it.

Submissions

After all witnesses your solicitor intended to call have given evidence, the Police Prosecution will make submissions and then your Solicitor will also make submissions in respect of the evidence presented in the Court.

The Magistrate will then make their decision as to whether you are guilty or not, based on the evidence presented and will normally make a decision shortly after submissions are given by both parties.

If you are unhappy with the decision do not argue with the Magistrate or pass comment in the Court room. Speak with your Solicitor outside the room about your rights to appeal.

If you are found guilty, the Magistrate will then address the issue of sentencing.  He or she may begin the sentence immediately, or adjourn the sentence to be dealt with on another date.

The information contained in this page was accurate at the time it was published. You should confirm the accuracy of this information with us or another solicitor before relying upon it.

Sentence

At the sentence the Prosecutor will address the Magistrate first.  He or she will tender some documents to the Magistrate. These may include a QP9 - Court Brief, criminal record and if relevant, a traffic record.  The Prosecutor will also read out a summary of the charge as stated on the QP9 and may make a suggestion regarding an appropriate sentence. 


Your Solicitor will hand up any character references and any other relevant documentation at this time. Your Solicitor will make submissions after the Magistrate has read what the Prosecutor and your Solicitor have handed to the court. 

The Magistrate will then respond.  The Magistrate may decide to deal with your matter immediately or may want to adjourn your matter so he or she can consider the material presented to them more thoroughly before passing his or her sentence.

In deciding the appropriate penalty to be imposed, the Magistrate will have considered the summary presented by the Prosecutor and the submissions made by your Solicitor. You should stand up when the Magistrate begins to talk in respect of your sentence.

It is unlikely that you will have to speak at any time during your sentence. If you are asked a question by the Magistrate, you should respond honestly. You may consult with your Solicitor if you do not understand how to answer the Magistrate's question. Be sure to always be polite and refer to the Magistrate as "Your Honour".


If you are unhappy with the decision do not argue with the Magistrate or pass comment in the Court room. Speak with your Solicitor outside the room about your rights to appeal. In the case that you are sentenced to imprisonment immediately, you should wait to speak with police staff upon your arrival at the watchouse about contacting your solicitor.

 

The information contained in this page was accurate at the time it was published. You should confirm the accuracy of this information with us or another solicitor before relying upon it.

Penalties

For minor offences, the first three types of penalties are most likely for first time offenders. It is important to note that the penalty will generally be more serious each time an offender commits a new offence, even if the offence the new offence is minor.   For example, imprisonment is a very real possibility for someone who is facing a disqualified driving charge with a history of previous disqualified driving offences.

Further, the Court may impose more than one of the following penalties.  For example, you may get a fine as well as be ordered to complete community service.

1: Absolute Release or Good Behaviour Bond

The Court has the power to release an offender absolutely without any penalty; however this is extremely rare even for the most minor of offences.  It is more likely that a person facing a Magistrate with a very minor offence may be given a good behaviour bond. 

This is an order of the Court that you be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. If you are of good behaviour and comply with any conditions directed for the period set by the Court there is no further penalty. However if you are not of good behaviour you may be summoned to court to be re sentenced for the offence or to pay a set penalty called a recognisance.

If the Court orders your absolute release or a good behaviour bond, it must also order than no conviction be recorded.Click here for further information on conviction recording.

2: Fines and Restitution

In serious matters, it is not uncommon that a fine is imposed in addition to one of the other penalties. The amount of the fine cannot be greater than the maximum penalty for the offence.

If your offence involved financial loss to some other person, the Court may order that you pay restitution to that person for the full amount or a partial amount of their loss.  This can also be in addition to a fine.

The Court will order that you pay any fine and/or restitution within a specified time. However you can make application to the Court at the time of sentencing to have your fine and/or restitution referred to the State and Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) where a longer payment schedule can be arranged.

3: Community Service Order

A Community Service Order (CSO) involves unpaid work in the community at a place specified by the Corrective Services Officer.  You will be required to complete at least 40 hours, but no more than 240 hours of community service within one year. The exact number of hours between these two figures is at the discretion of the Court.  

The Court may order that you complete both a Community Service Order and a Probation Order, see below.

4: Probation

A Probation Order involves being released under the supervision of a corrective services officer.  Probation can be ordered as an alternative to imprisonment or in addition to imprisonment upon release. The period of your probation will be no longer than 3 years.

If you are ordered to complete a Probation Order, you must meet with your corrective services officer as often as the order requires and comply with the officer's reasonable directions.  Such directions may include attending groups, courses and/or counselling, and submitting to medical, psychological and/or psychiatric treatment. 

You must also comply with any other special conditions the Court imposes.  Other conditions may include producing clean drug and alcohol tests. Further you must not commit any offences during the period of your probation.

If you fail to comply with your Probation Order, you will be required to appear before the court for re-sentencing.

The Court may order that you complete both a Community Service Order and a Probation Order.

5. Intensive Correction Order

An Intensive Correction Order involves you serving a term of imprisonment in the community and is only available where the Court imposes a term of imprisonment for 1 year or less.

The order consists of the requirements of both a Community Service Order and Probation Order put together.  Further, you will be required to meet with your corrective services officer on a more regular basis and will generally be required to spend a greater number of hours completing programs and community service.  Specifically, you will be required to perform up to 12 hours per week of community service and attend a minimum of two meeting per week with the community corrections officers.

If a court makes an Intensive Correction Order against you, it has no option but to record your conviction (see below).

6. Suspended Sentence

A suspended sentence is where the Court imposes a term of full time imprisonment upon an offender, but the sentence is immediately or partially suspended for an operational period of up to five years. 

If you commit an offence (that has imprisonment as an available sentence option) during the period of the suspended sentence, you will be resentenced and may be required to serve part or all of the period of imprisonment imposed.  Click here to see the relevant sections 146 and 147 of the Penalties and Sentencing Act Queensland).

7. Imprisonment and Parole

The Court may order imprisonment with or without the option of early parole. If the court orders imprisonment without early parole, you must serve the period imposed or enter society under a Parole Order. However, in the event the court makes an order that you be eligible for parole after a certain period of the sentence is served, then you may be released earlier at the election of the parole board.

The effect of parole is the similar to that of an Intensive Correction Order, both involve a strict conditions on your ability to travel, your place of resident and employment. You will be subject to the conditions of your Parole Order.  A breach of this order will involve you being sent back to jail subject to the view of the parole board.

Conviction vs No Conviction Recorded

Aside from your penalty, the Court must also make an order as to whether your conviction for the charge is recorded or not. 

1. The Law

The relevant section that the Magistrate or Judge must consider when deciding whether or not to record a conviction, is section 12 of the Penalties and Scenting Act.  Click here to view that section. The effect of that section is outlined below.

In most instances the Court will order that your conviction is recorded and the Court must record a conviction if it sentences you with an Intensive Correctional Order, Suspended Sentence or Imprisonment. If your conviction is recorded, you are required to declare that conviction when requested on formal documents. 

In some limited cases, the Court may decide that no conviction be recorded in respect of a charge despite entering a plea of guilty. The Court is only obligated to make an order that no conviction be recorded if it imposes a good behaviour bond as your penalty.  If you are sentenced with a fine, community service or probation, the Court has discretion whether to record a conviction or not.

It is unlikely that the Court will be will make an order that no conviction be recorded, unless you are a first time offender.  Even if you are a first time offender, the Court may still consider the circumstances of your matter are such that a conviction must be recorded.

It is important to note that the term 'no conviction recorded' is somewhat deceiving, as the charge will appear on your criminal history.  Further, in some situations you may still be required to declare your conviction on formal documents.  Accordingly, should always seek advice from a solicitor if you are unsure whether you are required to declare your conviction or not, this is of particular concern in certain job industries and in travel.

2. How long do I need to declare my conviction for?

The law considers a person is rehabilitated 10 years after the date of the conviction, if that person has not been conviction of any other criminal offence of misdemeanour since their conviction. Once the rehabilitation period has passed, you will generally no longer be required to declare that conviction unless you have in another criminal offence or misdemeanour in the meantime. 

However, note that you may still be required to declare all prior convictions, regardless of how long ago they occurred, in your application to a particular job or role. Accordingly, if you are unsure whether you are required to declare your conviction, you should seek legal advice or contact that authority that is in charge of that profession.

This relevant sections that set out the above law are sections 6 and 9A of the Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act Queensland.  Click here to see the relevant sections.

Licence Disqualification

If your offence is a traffic matter, you may be subject to a period of licence disqualification on top of your penalty.

 

The information contained in this page was accurate at the time it was published. You should confirm the accuracy of this information with us or another solicitor before relying upon it.

 

Back to top