Last article discussed the different “levels” of offences, and how most are dealt with in the Local Court. You might remember there are three levels being summary, indictable and strictly indictable.
Summary are the less serious offences that will always be dealt with by a Local Court
Strictly indictable charges are the very serious offences that are always dealt with in a District Court or a Supreme Court.
In the middle, are indictable offences, and these can be further broken up into two categories being T1 or T2 (being a reference to the listing in one of two tables of offences in Act expressing Parliament’s view of the overall seriousness of the offence)
T2 offences (Table 2) are such that if the prosecution chose to, they can have the matter dealt with in front of a Judge and jury in a District Court. Generally, the reason for the prosecution for doing this is that Local Court can impose a maximum of a 2 year custodial sentence, whereas there is no such limit in the District Court. Typically the prosecution will elect to have the matter dealt with in a District Court if the incident is at the upper end of the scale of the offence parameters.
For example, an offence of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm carries a 2 year maximum if dealt with in Local Court. However, if the facts indicate a severe injury, or other circumstances (eg a lengthy criminal record for violence) which warrant a longer sentence than 2 years then this would then be “elected” to the District Court by the prosecution.
T1 offences are such that either the prosecution or the accused can have the matter dealt with by the District Court. There are matters which the accused person may like to have dealt with by being judged by his peers, rather than a Magistrate. Many factors affect this decision, and it can be a very important decision to make. There is a perception that a Magistrate is more willing to find an accused person guilty than a jury. Each matter and accused person is completely different with varying objective and subjective features which influence the decision.
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This is intended for general information and does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should be sought.