When a case goes to the courts, the justice process will be a little different, depending on:
- which court the case is heard in
- how serious the type of crime is
- whether there are special circumstances for the accused person (for example that they have a mental impairment (External link))
- whether the person offended as a child, when aged under 18 years.
Cases for less serious crimes are usually heard in the Magistrates’ Court.
Cases for more serious crimes usually start in the Magistrates’ Court and then go to the County or Supreme Court.
It can take time for a case to go through all the hearings, so keep in touch with the team prosecuting your case.
Things that may be different include:
- the types of hearings (or stages) the case will go through
- who will be responsible for prosecuting the crime – the police or the Office of Public Prosecutions
- who will be in charge of the hearings (a magistrate or a judge)
- whether a jury will decide about the accused person’s guilt, or it will be the responsibility of the magistrate
- the principles that inform sentencing – which are different for adults and young people under 18 years of age.
In Victoria, there are three levels of courts:
- the Magistrates’ Court (External link), including the Children’s Court (External link) for young people
- the County Court (External link)
- the Supreme Court (External link).
The Magistrates’ Court
This court handles mainly less serious crimes, but most cases for serious crimes also start in this court.
You can find out more about the court process in the Magistrates’ Court.
The Children’s Court
The Children's Court is a special kind of Magistrates' Court. The case will usually be heard in the Children's Court if the accused person is aged 10 to 17 years old when the crime happened.
Cases involving very serious crimes usually start in the Children’s Court but will then move to the County or Supreme Court.
You can find out more about the court process in the Children’s Court.
The County Court and the Supreme Court
These are called higher courts because they usually handle more serious crimes. If a case goes up to the County Court or Supreme Court, there will be a trial with a judge and jury.
You can find out more about the court process in the County and Supreme Courts.
Getting information about your case
If you are not sure about which court your case is going to be in, you can:
- check your summons or subpoena letter, if you have received one
- ask the police officer in charge of your case.
Even if you are not going to attend the court during the case, you can still get information about what happens during the case.