Criminal Trial by Judge Alone

Criminal trials by judge alone are rare. A defendant generally cannot elect to be tried by judge alone unless they have the consent of the prosecution. This article looks at what the defence needs to establish to be granted a trial by judge alone.

How can I elect to be tried by judge alone?

Either the defence or the prosecution may apply to the court for a “trial by judge order”, which means the defendant will be tried by a judge alone. The court will make a trial by judge order if both the defence and the Crown agree to the trial being heard by judge alone.

For the court to make a trial by judge order it must also be satisfied that the defendant has received legal advice in relation to the effect of such an order.

If the Crown does not agree to the defendant being tried by a judge alone, the court can still make a trial by judge order if it considers it to be in the interest of justice to do so.

When will a court refuse an application for a trial by judge alone?

If the defendant objects to being tried by a judge alone the court must not make a trial by judge order.

The court may also refuse to make an order if the court considers that the factual issue in your case requires the application of objective community standards, including (but not limited to) an issue of reasonableness, negligence, indecency, obscenity or dangerousness.


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.


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