Written by  Joseph 2017-03-29

Steps involved in summary crime

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Summary offences and some indictable offences can also be dealt with through the summary stream of the Magistrates' Court.

Did you know that there are three main stages involved in the summary prosecution process?

The three stages are the summary case conference stage, a contest mention step, and  the final part which is a contested hearing.

A summary case conference is the first step of the process. At a summary case conference a legal representative confers with the prosecution to discuss the charges and  whether the client will be pleading guilty or not guilty. If the client pleads guilty, or the prosecution agrees to withdraw the charges, the process ends at this point. If the client pleads not guilty or the prosecution do not agree to withdraw the charges, or if some but not all charges are withdrawn, the matter will need to be listed for a contest mention.

The second step in the process is a contest mention. Discussions are held with the prosecution after a preliminary evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s case.  The aim is to narrow down the issues in dispute between the parties, to see if a resolution is possible. If a resolution  is not possible, then parties will agree on the witnesses to be called on, and identify likely legal and factual disputes that will arise in the contested hearing. A magistrate will then adjourn the matter for a contested hearing.

 The final step in the process is a contested hearing, and occurs if the accused pleads not guilty to the charges. The prosecution will present their case and evidence, and the defence can cross examine these prosecution witnesses and also call their own. After hearing all the evidence, and making determinations on any legal or factual disputes,  the Magistrate determines whether the charges have been proved or not. If the charges are not proven, the client is free to leave the court. If the charges are found proven, a plea in mitigation will be held, followed by a determination of sentence.

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