Court appearance during COVID-19

Do I still need to go to Court?

Court services have changed the way they are operating during COVID-19. The Courts are doing most the work by telephone. Where telephone is being used, people are required to give their name, telephone number and email address to the Court.

However, some matters may require someone to attend in person.

Anyone required to go to Court should contact their lawyer, or speak with the Court.

What if I am legally required to self-isolate?

There are big penalties for breaching a self-isolation order. If someone is required to self-isolate they are to stay home.

If someone required to self-isolate it might be difficult to do everything the Court requires them to do. For example, it will be difficult to sign-in to a Police station, or go to community corrections, or similar. In all cases, the requirement to self-isolate is the most important order.

If someone has bail conditions that need changing, please contact the court. The Court is likely to suspend the conditions that cannot be complied with until after the end of the period of isolation.

If someone has to comply with directions to see other services, for example Community Corrections, they should call that service directly. The requirements to see other services will be suspended until after the end of the period of isolation.

What if I want to self-isolate (without a legal requirement to do so) but my bail conditions don’t let me?

If someone wants to stay home but they have bail conditions that require them to go outside, they will need to vary their bail. They should contact their lawyer or the Court to do this. If the person on bail has a surety they will have to agree to the change. The person on bail (and their surety) will have to sign a new bail notice.

The Court will probably change the bail condition to a 24-hour curfew condition for the period of isolation.

Attendance at Court is required to make this change. If you have cold or flu like symptoms please let the Court or your lawyer know to see if other arrangements can be made.

Do I have to come to Tasmania to go to Court if I live interstate?

No. Any arrivals in Tasmania are legally required to go into quarantine for 14 days. Court attendance is not an exception.

If someone lives interstate but is required to appear in a Tasmanian Court they should contact their lawyer or the Court and let them know. The Court will either adjourn the matter administratively - that is, the Court will reschedule the date without the need to appear, or make arrangements for appearance to be done on the telephone.

I have a summons to attend Court as a witness, do I have to go?

Many hearings are being scheduled to a later date; however, some hearings are still going ahead as planned.

Anyone who has received a summons to attend Court as a witness should contact Prosecution to confirm if the hearing is going to continue on the date advised. If the accused person is in custody the Court hearing will probably proceed.

When contacting Prosecution, have the details of the summons available so that you can tell the receptionist at Prosecution the Accused’s name and the date of the hearing.

Because of heavy call volumes you will probably have to leave your telephone number and wait for a call back.

I have a summons to attend court as a witness, and I live interstate, do I have to go?

No. Any arrivals in Tasmania are legally required to self-isolate for 14 days and the requirement to go to Court is not an exception.

Anyone who has received a summons to attend Court as a witness should contact Prosecution and let them know the situation. The matter will either be rescheduled to a later date, or arrangements will be made an appearance by video link or on the telephone.

My matter is listed for Hearing, will it still go ahead?

Anyone with a matter listed for Hearing should contact their lawyer. If they do not have a lawyer, they should contact Prosecution.

Some hearings are going ahead, although most are being rescheduled to a later date. If an Accused person is in custody the hearing will probably proceed. Some other hearings are also continuing.

Am I more likely to get bail because of COVID-19?

Delay is one of the factors a Court takes into account when considering bail for most matters. The Courts are more likely to grant bail where COVID-19 will lead to delay, but it is not the only thing a Court will take into account.

The exceptions to this are Family Violence matters, where delay is a less important factor, and murder, where bail is only granted in exceptional circumstances.

Last updated: 1-April-2020