Written by  Joseph Burke 2016-09-06

Can indictable offences be heard in the Magistrates’ Court?

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Summary offences are typically less serious offences that are less likely to attract imprisonment than indictable offences. As they are less serious, they are usually heard in the Magistrates' Court, whereas indictable offences are typically heard in the County Court or the Supreme Court..

There are some indictable offences that can be dealt with as though they were summary offences. The types of offences which can be heard summarily are outlined in section 28 of the criminal procedure act 2009 (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/cpa2009188/s28.html). Basically, they must have a maximum penalty of ten years or less to be eligible to be heard summarily, or be listed in schedule 2 of the Criminal procedure act.

However, there are also some very serious charges like Aggravated burglary which can be heard summarily. Aggravated burglary has a maximum sentence of 25 years imprisonment. But, it is listed under Schedule 2 of the Criminal Procedure Act, so it can be heard in the magistrates Court.

Now, why would you want to have an indictable offence heard in the Magistrates' Court?

The reason is that the Magistrates' Court has a limited jurisdiction. For a single offence, the Magistrates' Court can only impose a maximum of two years imprisonment (five years for multiple offences heard at the same time). If you’re facing 25 years for aggravated burglary if it's heard in the Count Court, but only two years if it's heard in the Magistrates’ Court, your criminal lawyer clearly want to have the matter heard in the Magistrates' Court.


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