Pleading Guilty to a Drug Charge in the Local Court


All drug possession and self administer drug charges will be finalised in the Local Court. However, charges of supply, manufacture, cultivate and import drug charges may be dealt with in the District Court.

What Happens at Court if I Plead Guilty and Represent Myself?

You will arrive at the Court and will need to advise Court staff that you are there. If you are unrepresented you will be told to sit near or in the Courtroom and wait until your name is called. The time on your Court Attendance Notice is likely to be 9.30am but often matters involving unrepresented defendants are not reached until the afternoon, so it is best to avoid making any further plans on the date of your Court appearance.

Once your name is called, you will walk to the front of the Courtroom to a microphone. Do not sit at the bar table.

You will then be asked to enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty. If you are pleading guilty, you must say this very clearly to the Magistrate. Address the Magistrate only as “Your Honour”. The police prosecutor will then hand up the police facts (which should be the same as attached to your court attendance notice) and your antecedents (any prior record that you may have). After the Magistrate has read these you will have an opportunity to speak and to hand up any documents you may have.

When speaking to the Magistrate be sure to address him or her appropriately. Be truthful to the Court. The Magistrate has years of experience and can easily spot someone who is making excuses or is not being totally honest.

Do not try to trivialize your offence. This will be seen as disrespectful. Do not argue with the Magistrate. This will also likely be seen as disrespectful.

Following anything the Magistrate having read your documents and you having spoken he or she will then consider your sentence for a few moments. Be sure to pay attention to what they say at that point, as it is very important that you know what you are required to do. If you have any questions speak to the Court officer after your matter has finished. If you are unhappy with the outcome do not try to fight with the Magistrate. You have the right to appeal the sentence to the District Court within 28 days.

What is the Point of Having a Solicitor Represent you?

  • A good criminal lawyer knows what a court wants to hear and can make submissions directed to those issues (without making things up).
  • Just as importantly, a good criminal lawyer knows what a court does not want to hear and will not say things that are likely to anger the Magistrate and make things worse.
  • A good criminal lawyer knows the sentencing law well and how to use it to your advantage.
  • A good criminal lawyer will bring you to life in a way that will help you to stand out from the crowd rather than blend in with the numerous other matters at court on the day.
  • A good criminal lawyer will ensure that your references bring you to life with the use of stories and examples. To earn the Magistrate’s trust you need to back up what you are saying.
  • Retaining a lawyer shows the court that you are taking the matter seriously.

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.

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