This section contains practical information about what can happen at your criminal trial in the District or Supreme Court in NSW. It includes information about opening addresses, empanelling of juries, jury selection, fitness to plead hearings, preparation for a criminal trial, majority verdicts, judge alone criminal trial ,Prasad directions in a criminal trial, directed verdicts and arraignments.
Please select the topic that you are interested in or read further for more general information about trials.
- Jury selection
- Opening addresses
- Prasad direction
- Majority verdict in a trial
- What happens in a criminal trial
- Fitness to plead and stand trial
- Judge alone – criminal trial
What is the role of the prosecutor in a criminal trial?
The role of the prosecutor, who represents the Crown, is to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the offence. The Crown has the burden of proving every essential fact that makes up the offence with which you are charged with.
What is your role in a criminal trial?
As the defendant you have no obligation whatsoever to prove any fact or issue that is in dispute. You also do not have any obligation to call any evidence or prove anything.
What is the role of a judge in a criminal trial?
The judge makes decisions of law as to what evidence the jury should hear. The judge also gives the jury directions on the law and other matters that help the jury make a decision as to whether you are guilty or innocent of an offence.
The judge does not make decisions about the facts and does not decide whether you are guilty or innocent. That is the role of the jury. The judge is required to ensure procedural fairness during the trial by making sure all rules of procedure and evidence are followed.
If a question of law arises during the trial, such as the admissibility of particular evidence, and it is necessary for the Crown Prosecutor and your lawyer to present arguments on the matter, then a mini trial will be held in the absence of the jury. This is called a voir dire. It is a mini trial within a trial.
At the conclusion of the trial the judge will give the jury directions on the legal principles which are applicable to the case. In addition, explanations on how to apply the legal principles to the issues will also be given.
What is the role of a jury in a criminal trial?
The jury is the sole judge of the facts. All disputes involving matters of fact will be decided by the jury. Generally it will be up to the jury to decide what evidence will be accepted and what will not be accepted and ultimately whether you are guilty or not guilty.
What offences are tried in the District Court?
Criminal matters that are dealt with by the District Court include:
- offences against the person, such as manslaughter, malicious wounding to inflict grievous bodily harm and dangerous driving;
- assaults, such as common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and assault of police officers;
- sexual assaults, such as indecent assault and carnal knowledge;
- offences relating to property, such as robbery from the person, break enter and steal, larceny (stealing) and embezzlement;
- offences involving drugs, such as importation of heroin and other drugs into Australia, supply prohibited drug and possess prohibited drug; and
- offences involving fraud, such as passing valueless cheques, obtaining money by deception and forgery.
What offences are tried in the Supreme Court?
Criminal matters that are dealt with by the Supreme Court include:
- murder and manslaughter;
- attempted murder;
- major conspiracy and drug related charges;
- Commonwealth prosecutions for the more serious breaches of the Corporations Law; and
- bail applications in relation to cases in the Court or in other Courts.
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.