If the defendant is committed for trial, it will take place in either the Supreme, County or District Court, depending on how serious the crime is.
When a matter is sent to these courts, an indictment must be prepared by the prosecution and presented to the court. An indictment lists all the offences the defendant has been charged with.
During the trial, a jury will need to decide whether the defendant is guilty of any, or all, of the offences they have been charged with.
During the trial, the prosecution will call witnesses and present evidence to support its case against the defendant. The defendant can decide whether to give evidence before the court or put other evidence forward to support their innocence.
In Australia, a person is innocent until they are proven guilty of an offence. This means the onus of proof is on the prosecution. The CDPP must convince the jury ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ the defendant committed the crime. The defendant does not have to prove they are innocent.
When all the evidence has been given, the judge sums up both sides of the argument for the jury. The jury then leaves the courtroom to decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
If the jury decides a defendant is guilty of some, or all, of the offences they are charged with, the court will set aside a date for sentencing.
If the jury decides there is not enough evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt the defendant committed the crime, they must find them not guilty. The defendant is acquitted and free to leave the court.
If the jury can’t reach a verdict, the matter may be set aside and a re-trial may be ordered.
- The main difference between a hearing and a trial is that a trial takes place before a judge and a jury, and the jury decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.