Sydeny & Parramatta Criminal Defence Lawyers

Is it compulsory to attend court if charged?

Generally, if you have been charged with an offence, you will have to appear before the court at some stage, whether or not you are represented by a lawyer. However, depending on the nature of your matter, you may choose to have your matter dealt with by a ‘Written Notice of Pleading’. If you do not attend court as required of you by a Court Attendance Notice, the consequences are severe. If you have been granted bail in your matter, then it will be a condition of your bail that you attend court as required of you, and if you do not attend court, you will be in breach of your bail and it can be revoked.

Attending Court

The date, time and place for you to appear at court will be listed on the Court Attendance Notice you have received. You can find the location of the courthouse you are required to attend here.

If you do not attend court, the Magistrate can do any of the following:

  1. Adjourn your case to a later date
  2. Deal with the matter in your absence
    1. The Magistrate may find you guilty of the offence without hearing from you; and/or
    2. The Magistrate may impose a sentence upon you without hearing from you.
  3. Issue a warrant for your arrest for the purposes of bringing you before the court to have your case dealt with in your presence or, if you have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment, so that you can be imprisoned for that purpose.

If you miss your court date, it is important that you contact the court registry to find out what has happened with your matter. If you have had an arrest warrant issued against you, you should seek legal advice.

What if I choose to have my matter dealt with by way of a ‘Written Notice of Pleading’?

If you have been charged with a less serious matter that can be dealt with in the Local Court, and wish to plead guilty, you can choose to have the Magistrate deal with the matter in your absence by filing a ‘Written Notice of Pleading’. This option is only available for offences where the maximum penalty is a fine.

You can provide to the court your explanation of the offence and why it occurred, information about your personal circumstances, references from people who know you, and any other documentation you may think is relevant to the court’s decision.

It is within the court’s discretion to reject your Written Notice of Pleading if your explanation of the offence conflicts with the facts of the offence as presented by the police. The court may also reject your Written notice if the explanation you have given indicates you may have a defence available.

The main disadvantage of a filing a Written Notice of Pleading rather than appearing in person is that the Magistrate will find it very difficult to assess your personal circumstances, your explanation for the offence, your demeanour and your level of remorse.

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