Please be ready with your application reference number starting with 'P'. For example P1234567
The only offences that can be heard summarily in the ACT are the Summary offences. Section 190 of the Legislation Act 2001 (ACT) defines all offences that the Magistrate Court can hear summarily in the ACT.
Summary offences in the ACT are disclosed on a national criminal record check in the ACT.
Summary offences in the ACT are disclosed in accordance with the ACT’s Spent Convictions Scheme.
Offences that are handled summarily;
Generally, a Summary offence cannot attract a penalty term higher than two years imprisonment. It does not matter whether it is;
Some examples of a Summary offence under the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT) include (but are not limited to);
However, a summary hearing does not water down the effect such an offence may have. For example, if the Court records a hearing against the individual, it will appear in their criminal records and hence their criminal record check.
The Magistrate hears all summary matters/charges before the Court. And it includes all indictable offences it decides should be heard summarily.
If the Magistrate finds a person guilty of an indictable offence, it can issue penalties of up to 2 years imprisonment.
The Supreme Court can also hear a summary offence if it forms part of the sequence of an indictable matter. However, such violation will be treated as when a Magistrate handles such issues.
Limitation periods are the time frame from when an offence happens to when the prosecutor can charge it before a court. Summary offences across Australia have various limitation periods depending on how long their laws think an offence will still be “relevant”.
Following section 192 of the Legislation Act 2001, prosecution for an ACT offence can begin at any time. For summary offences in the ACT, it should not be later than;
Sometimes, an offence can contradict two or more legislations in the ACT. In such cases, the person is convicted under any legislation but cannot be punished more than once.
Also, if the offence;
The person cannot be punished for the same offence under ACT laws.
Before any indictable matter proceeds to the Supreme Court in the ACT, a Magistrate Court must assess the charges. Section 90 of the Magistrates Court Act 1930 (ACT) describes all the procedures for a committal proceeding.
If the (court) Magistrate is satisfied that the case has sufficient evidence for an indictment proceeding, they will transfer the matter to the Supreme Court.
The Australian Capital Territory, unlike other states, has no intermediary courts. It has only the Magistrate Court (and those similar) and the Supreme Court. Therefore, matters that are not eligible for a Magistrate jurisdiction are transferred to the Supreme Court.
Not all indictable offences are taken to the Supreme Court. Section 108A of the Magistrates Court Act 1930 allows certain indictable violations to be handled summarily. A Magistrate can hear an indictable offence if;
The offence is punishable with imprisonment term longer than two years, but less than five years
It may include;
Summary trials are usually finalised faster than indictable trials. However, this does not translate to the leniency in the procedures. It only means the summary trials are less complex than an indictable trial.
The Police or a victim's legal representative may apply to the Court to charge a person for an offence. The charge application must contain information on the offence, including possible evidence and instances.
After the Court receives the application, it will issue a summons to the accused person. However, if the accused is already in custody, they will appear in Court on the hearing.
Also, depending on the criminal records or circumstances, the Magistrate can issue a warrant to arrest such a person. And throughout the proceedings, the person will remain in the custody of the Police. The Magistrate will issue an arrest warrant if the defendant refuses to honour the court summons.
The Magistrate can also grant the defendant bail on certain conditions - Bail Act 1992 (ACT). And the chief of them is that they appear in Court on the specified days.
At Court, the Court will provide the defendant with a Statement of Fact. It includes all the vital evidence and charges the Police or the accuser will prove the case. The defendant must understand the details of this document before entering a plea.
If the defendant pleads guilty to the case, the Court can issue sentencing immediately. The Court will only issue sentencing where it is sure such punishment is appropriate for the offence.
However, where the accused pleads "not guilty", the Court will enter a Case management hearing. It is a meeting between both parties to agree on conflicting aspects of the case before the hearing date. It also allows all parties to change their stance heading to the final hearing.
At the final hearing, the Magistrate will issue sentencing per the Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005 (ACT).
However, if the matter is strictly on indictment, the Magistrate will transfer it to the Supreme Court.
Summary offences are disclosed on nationally coordinated criminal history checks (NCCHC) in accordance with the spent convictions scheme legislation.
Individuals can obtain their national police check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.
Legislation Act 2001 (ACT) - https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/2001-14/
Crimes Act 1900 (ACT) - https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1900-40
Magistrate Court Act 1930 (ACT) - https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1930-21
Bail Act 1992 (ACT) - https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1992-8
Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005 (ACT) - https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/2005-58
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