My story: the court process

I haven’t spoken about court yet, so let’s touch on that now. Like the majority of criminal cases, mine was dealt with entirely through Magistrate’s Court. The court system operates like a funnel, or a sieve. Typically, cases are initially raised in the Magistrate’s Court, and most matters are completed there, too. A few cases filter through to the County Court – perhaps where a defendant appeals a sentence, or is pleading not guilty and a trial is required.

I actually ended up appearing in court a few times. The first was to request an adjournment, as the Police brief arrived late, with additional charges, and my lawyers wanted more time to review and prepare. This worked in my favour, as it gave me more time to work with my psychologist. That progress would subsequently be reflected in her report for the court.

The case was heard at the second appearance. One thing that struck me is how quickly cases are heard, at least in the Magistrate’s Court, where they have a high case load to get through. To me, the case seemed to have enough complexity that it could be debated back and forth for some time, but that’s not how it works. The prosecution prepares a summary in advance, and that paragraph or two is all that is presented to the court. I was grateful for that. Sure, it was still difficult standing there and hearing all the hard facts being uttered, but I was glad that they don’t elaborate with circumstantial evidence and emotional arguments.

Even though the hearing itself was reasonably short, it was still a long day. Lots of waiting for the case to be called, and by the time it was, it was too late to get an assessment from Corrections, which the Magistrate wanted before making a decision. So, I returned a week later for the Corrections assessment and subsequent sentencing.

All in all, a stressful experience that I hope never to repeat, but not as bad as it could have been. I’ll talk about the sentencing itself in another post.

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