What Happens in Court?
It can be intimidating to have to go to court.
At Sydney Criminal Lawyers, we will guide you every step of the way, and make sure you are well prepared beforehand.
The exact nature of the court process will depend on the nature of the offence, and whether you are pleading innocent or guilty – as well as whether you are going to be heard in the district or local court.
Pleading Guilty to a drug charge
If you decide to plead guilty to a drug offence, you will need to attend court and tell the magistrate when you are asked.
Your lawyer will do the talking for you if you have one.
After you enter your guilty plea, the prosecutor will provide the court with the police statement of what occurred.
You will be asked if you agree with this, and you will be given the opportunity to provide the magistrate with any documentation you have in support of your case, such as character references.
Once the magistrate has heard all the evidence, he or she will make a decision and inform you of your sentence.
If you disagree with this, you have the right to appeal to the District Court within 28 days.
If you would like an experienced drug lawyer to represent you in court -for a fixed price – call Sydney Criminal Lawyers today to arrange a free first consultation.
Pleading not guilty to a drug charge
If you don’t agree with the charges that have been levelled against you, you should plead ‘not guilty’.
Your drug lawyer will advise the court on the first court date that you are pleading not guilty.
There will then be an adjournment period of around four to six weeks, so that the police can gather the evidence they require to try and support their charges, and will have to provide you with a brief of evidence, which are their statements and other relevant materials.
At your second court appearance, your drug lawyer will ask for a hearing date and you will be required to fill out a court listing advice to identify what witnesses you plan to cross examine, and give an estimate of how long you believe the hearing will take.
If police fail to hand over all of their material, your drug lawyer can give them a ‘subpoena’ forcing them to disclose all information and give all documents and other items in their possession.
If the case against you is weak, your lawyer will point that out to police in a detailed letter and request that the case be dropped.
At your hearing, the police prosecutor will provide their evidence and witnesses to try to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The police will present their case first, then your drug lawyer will cross examine the police witnesses, and will aim to prove reasonable doubt that you committed the offence.
Your drug lawyer can then choose to put forward your defence, if necessary.
If you are giving evidence, you will be examined first, then any other witnesses to support your case will take the stand.
After both sides have provided their submissions, and argued their case, the magistrate will make a decision.
If you are found guilty, the magistrate will inform you of your sentence.
Your drug lawyer can advise you in that case about your chances of appealing to the District Court against the decision.