Going to Court

Magistrates Court

If you have to go to court for something like a traffic offence,  a restraint order application, minor criminal charges or a bail application, you’ll have to go to the Magistrates Court.

You may also have to go to the Magistrates Court if you are a witness in either a criminal trial (a trial where someone has been arrested by the Police) or a witness or a party in a civil trial (a trial between two members of the public).

There is a duty lawyer at the Magistrates Court who is able to help you understand charges brought against you, or help you understand a summons – this service is free.  If you are eligible for Legal Aid, the duty lawyer may also be able to represent you in Court.

The Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania has a great webpage detailing what happens if you have to go to the Magistrates Court (you can also press ‘listen’ to hear the information, or you can click on the video further down the page).

You can also find information on what happens if you in the Magistrates Court on their website.

Family Court

If you are going to court because you have received a divorce application, or because of a dispute regarding children or property, you’ll have to go to the Federal Circuit Court, or in some cases the Family Court.

The Federal Circuit Court and Family Court have a duty lawyer who is available to answer questions or give you advice when you go to court.  This service is free.

The duty lawyer is available for advice and limited representation on all Family Court duty list days.  On Monday, between 1pm and 2pm, the duty lawyer may also be able to give some assistance with filling out court documents.

Click through to this link to the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania’s information about going to court (click on the Family Court tab).

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest Court in Tasmania, and deals with people accused of serious offences such as murder, manslaughter and serious drug offences.  People accused of serious offences will first have hearings through the Magistrates Court before going to the Supreme Court.  If there is a not guilty plea, then a jury will be called to decide whether the defendant (the person accused of a crime) is guilty or not guilty.

The trial division of the Supreme Court hears all civil matters (matters between members of the public) where there is a value of $50,000 or above.  A Judge will hear these matters, but sometimes a jury might be called if one of the parties involved choose this option.

The Court of Appeal is also part of the Supreme Court.  If someone wants to appeal a decision made in a Magistrates Court, or from a tribunal, they can go to the Court of Criminal Appeal, where their case will be heard by a panel of three or more Supreme Court Judges.

If a matter has been determined by a single Judge or a jury in the Supreme Court, someone wanting to make an appeal can have their case heard in the Full Court of the Supreme Court, consisting of three or more Supreme Court Judges.

You can find out more information about the Supreme Court through their website, including information about what to do if you have to go to court, and how you will be expected to behave.