As a general rule, the Accused has no say in the original Court hearing date.
Once the police decide to lay a charge, they ring the Court and are given available dates without consultation with the Accused.
In the Magistrates’ Court, the first hearing date is only a mention date and the case can only proceed if the Accused is going to plead guilty and the case is only going to take a few minutes.
Now, in many cases, the Accused is going to need to get a lawyer, Legal Aid or plead not guilty or maybe even arrange for witnesses to attend to give character evidence if pleading guilty. Accordingly, the normal procedure is for someone to attend at the Court and arrange the adjournment. It is possible for an Accused to get a first adjournment on his or her own but once a second adjournment is required, a lawyer should be arranged as Courts are not really keen on adjourning cases.
The case will certainly have to be adjourned at the first mention date if the Accused wishes to plea not guilty as the police generally don’t attend the first mention date.
However if the Accused is on bail, even if the case is to be adjourned, the Accused will have to be at Court to have his bail extended. If the Accused is on bail and fails to attend for an adjournment, as a general rule, a warrant of arrest will issue. Sometimes if the Accused is not on bail, the lawyer can arrange the adjournment in the absence of the Accused. However it is dangerous to arrange an adjournment over the phone and have no one in attendance. It’s often the case that a warrant issues because the phone arrangements have been misplaced or a different person is handling the file on the day of the case.
In the higher courts, such as the County Court or the Supreme Court, adjournments are very hard to arrange. Bear in mind that once the hearing date is set and witnesses have been issued subpoenas and a jury arranged, the Judge will not be really keen on last minute adjournments.
This is particularly the case if the Accused reqiuires an adjournment because of problems with funding.
If you are facing any problems concerning an adjournment, or are just generally apprehensive about going to court, you should feel free to ring Brendan Wilkinson.
- Free first interview.
- All clients will deal with Brendan Wilkinson personally.
Brendan Wilkinson, Criminal Defence Lawyer (Melbourne and Ballarat)
Level 4 116 Hardware St
Melbourne VIC 3000
ph. 9670 1987 / 0438 670 198