Charged with a matter outside of your area / 100km
When police charge a person with an offence the matter will be listed before the Local Court closest to where the offence occurred. In most cases, this is not an issue for the police, the courts or the person charged. However, the location of the court will be an issue for some, particularly those who commit offences while on holidays, at events far from home or while they are driving long distances. Such people can find themselves significantly inconvenienced by having to return to the Local Court closest to where the offence occurred.
An application can be made to a court seeking to have a matter adjourned (moved) to a different court. Like any application, it can be granted or refused and will depend on the arguments put forward. The court will only grant applications in circumstances where they consider it appropriate to do so.
A common example of where courts will agree to move a matter to a court closer to the defendant is where a defendant lives a significant distance from the court their matter is listed before and where they plead guilty to the offence (thus removing the need for any police or witnesses to appear at court in relation to their case).
In considering whether it is appropriate to move a matter to another court the Magistrate or Judge can take into account any matter it deems relevant. Generally speaking, courts will have regard to the following factors:
- Where the offence was committed;
- Where the police or prosecuting authority are based;
- Where the defendant lives;
- Whether the matter is a plea of guilty, a local court hearing or a trial by jury;
- Whether witnesses are required to give evidence and, if so, whether the witnesses live;
- In jury trials, whether there is any unfairness due to pre-trial publicity or community size and attitudes; and
- Any delay and/or expense incurred because of the location (e.g. costs of legal representation, expert witnesses and/or delay in certain local courts).
The easiest way to have a matter moved courts is to speak to a defence lawyer who can provide you with advice about how likely or unlikely it is that the application will be successful, how to make your application stronger and who can make the application on your behalf (and in some cases, without you needing to attend court).
WHERE TO NEXT?
If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.