What is a Brief of Evidence? (Qld)
When a person is charged with criminal offences in Queensland, they must decide whether to plead guilty and proceed to be sentenced or plead not guilty and go through a trial or contested hearing. Before deciding how to plead, the accused may wish to obtain the brief of evidence. This is a document prepared by the prosecution that contains a copy of all the evidence that will be relied on against the accused if the matter is contested. Reviewing the brief of evidence will give the accused an idea of the strength of the case against them.
What is a QP9?
When a person is charged with offences, the police prosecution must provide the defence with a QP9. This is a court brief or written report that describes the alleged offence/s and sets out a summary of the alleged facts that the prosecution says make out the offending conduct.
The QP9 will also have the defendant’s criminal history and traffic history attached (if they have prior convictions). A defendant may choose to accept the charges and the alleged facts, plead guilty and proceed to sentence. Alternately, the accused may wish to contest the charges and/or dispute the alleged facts.
If the accused contests the charges, the matter will proceed to case conferencing. Case conferencing is an opportunity for the defence and prosecution to engage in negotiations and establish whether the matter can be resolved without the need for a contested hearing. In some cases, further evidence may be required to be disclosed by the prosecution at the case conferencing phase.
The defence may obtain all or part of the brief of evidence during the case conferencing phase of a matter after the QP9 has been obtained but before a plea has been entered in court.
What is included in a brief of evidence?
Once a defendant has indicated a plea of not guilty, the defence is entitled to receive full and detailed particulars of the alleged offence/s from the police prosecutor. The prosecution is also obliged to give full and early disclosure of all evidence that it proposes to rely on and all things in its possession, including facts and material capable of rebutting the prosecution case or advancing the defence case.
A brief typically contains the following:
- Charge sheet;
- Summary of alleged facts;
- Witness statements, including a statement by the alleged victim, other statements by civilians and statements by the police officers who attended the scene and arrested the accused;
- Record of police interview with the accused if one was conducted;
A brief of evidence may also include the following:
- CCTV footage;
- DNA evidence;
- Expert evidence, such as medical evidence from a doctor;
- Records of telephone intercepts;
- Forensics reports, such as analysis of a substance alleged to be an illicit drug.
If a matter is a serious indictable matter, it must go through a committal proceeding before being transferred to the District Court or Supreme Court for finalisation. The evidence adduced at the committal stage of proceedings must be sufficient to put the defendant on trial. If the evidence adduced at the committal stage is not sufficient to support a finding of guilt, the matter will be discontinued.
Whether a person is facing serious indictable charges or summary offences, it is crucial that a proper examination of all the evidence is conducted by the defence. The defence should consider the nature and seriousness of the offending and the strength and significance of the material in the brief of evidence before the accused enters a plea.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.