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Accused person in a criminal proceeding

Coming to court can be stressful. The video below will help you be ready when you come to court for a criminal proceeding.


We understand coming to court can be stressful.

Here are some things that will help you be ready when you come to court for a criminal proceeding.

The document you’ve received about coming to court will have information about: 

  • the charges 
  • or
  • what court location you need to attend 
  • the time and date. 

To prepare, you should get legal advice before you come to court.

If you don’t have a lawyer, you can start by looking at the legal help page on the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria website.

Before your court date, you or your lawyer should:

If you intend to plead not guilty, contact the court where your case is being heard as soon as possible.

We may be able to provide an interpreter for you. Please let the court know as soon as possible before your hearing date to discuss your interpreting requirements.

Here is some information that can help you prepare for your day in court.

Please be respectful when in the court.

To keep the court safe, everyone goes through a security screening. This is to stop dangerous items being brought into court.

Straight after the security screening, go to the courts counter and tell the you have arrived.

The registrar can provide you with information about: 

  • finding your way to the right courtroom
  • linking you with your lawyer and interpreter 
  • directing you to other court services. 

They cannot provide legal advice.

Our staff are here to help. Please behave respectfully to everyone at court including court staff.

Sometimes court be stressful and can involve waiting.  No matter what the situation, violence and aggression against staff and members of the community is never ok.

If you haven’t spoken to a lawyer before your court date, you can ask to see a duty lawyer.

A duty lawyer can give you some legal advice and may be able to represent you in the courtroom. They’re very busy, so you will need be patient as your court case might not go ahead straight away. This is why you should seek legal advice before you court date.

You are able to bring a support person with you on the day. It is also a good idea to bring something to help pass the time while you wait.

Most courts sit until 4pm and hearings occur throughout the day.

Make sure you stay in or close to your courtroom, so you can hear when your case is called.

If you do need to leave the building, be aware that security screening on re-entry may take some time.

Your case may be heard in your absence if you don’t attend when called.

Now your case has been called, here is some information to help you be confident in the court courtroom.  

Do not eat, drink or chew gum.

Turn off your mobile phone.

Turn off your electronic devices.

Take off your hat or sunglasses.

The courtroom is a formal environment. When you enter, take a seat in the courtroom and please do not talk during other people’s court cases.

When your name is called, go to the large table in the middle of the courtroom. This is called the bar table.  When you speak with a magistrate, call them Your Honour. 

If you have a lawyer, they will sit at the bar table. You should sit behind them.

If you don’t have a lawyer, stand behind the bar table and wait until the magistrate asks you to be seated.

Your case is now ready to be heard.

For more information see the “going to court” section on the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria website.

Last updated on 06 Mar 2019
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