Fact sheet – Getting ready for court

You can talk to a lawyer for free at Tasmania Legal Aid.

To get free legal information call 1300 366 611 or use the Legal Talk chat from the bottom right hand corner of this website. Legal Talk and our phone lines are available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

A lawyer can listen to your story and help identify the next steps you can take.

Should I get legal advice?

Yes, you should get legal advice as soon as possible. You can speak directly to a lawyer for free by calling our free legal advice line on 1300 366 611 during business hours. Alternatively, you can drop into our free clinic.

Do I have to go to Court?

Yes, you must turn up on the right day, time and at the right court location. If you were bailed to appear and do not turn up, you may face a further charge of breach of bail. If you were summonsed to appear and do not turn up, you may face a further charge of fail to appear. Whether you were bailed or summonsed to appear, if you fail to turn up the court may also issue a warrant for your arrest.

What if I cannot get to Court and need to put it off?

As soon as you know that you cannot attend court, you should contact Police Prosecution. If they accept your explanation for why you cannot appear at court and they agree to moving your court appearance to another date, you can lodge a Consent to Adjournment Form with the court. You should make arrangements with Police Prosecution in relation to them signing this form, before you lodge it with the court.

What if there is a mistake on the complaint (document outlining your charges)?

Simple mistakes such as a 'typo' can be fixed by the court, if Prosecution acknowledge the mistake. Sometimes Prosecution will ask the court to allow them time to correct the mistake before the matter recommences. If Prosecution do not acknowledge the mistake or it is a mistake that Prosecution cannot fix, you should seek legal advice.

Should I plead guilty, not guilty or ask for an adjournment?

Before making this decision you should obtain a copy of the Prosecution' s case against you, this is called disclosure. To obtain a copy of the disclosure, you will need to complete a request for disclosure form (this link will download a PDF copy of the application, 180KB, 1 page).

How can I find out what Prosecution's case is against me?

Prosecution must give you effective disclosure, which is all the evidence they have to prove their case. Once you have this information you can make an informed decision about whether you  are pleading guilty or not guilty.

Brief disclosure is free and includes the Complaint, Facts for the Prosecutor, your Prior Convictions (if you have any) and if you participated in an interview the notes, recording or transcript of that interview.

If you intend to plead not guilty, then you should make a request for full disclosure, even though there is a fee. Full disclosure includes witness statements and any other evidence Prosecution wish to rely upon.

Carefully read all of the information provided to you, because it is the Prosecution's case against you. Prosecution has to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. This is because you are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

You may have evidence that shows Prosecution will not be able to prove their case. For example; you may have evidence that proves you did not do what the Prosecution allege.

What if I only want to plead not guilty to some of the charges?

It may be possible to negotiate with Prosecution. For example Prosecution may withdraw a charge(s) provided you plead guilty to another charge(s). A lawyer can advise you on a potential outcome and how to go about negotiating.

Last updated: 21-April-2021