Overview of the Criminal Procedure Act
The Criminal Procedure A written law made by parliament. Also called an ‘Act of parliament’, ‘statute’ or legislation. 2009 (Vic) (‘CP Act’) commenced on 1 January 2010. The CP Act locates in the one Act the criminal procedures that apply in the Magistrates’, County and Supreme Courts of Victoria.
The Judicial College of Victoria (JCV) has prepared the Victorian Criminal Proceedings Manual, which explains in detail the law of criminal procedure as it applies to criminal proceedings under the CP Act. This is available on the JCV website at www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au.
The procedure for summary offences can be found in chapter 3 of the CP Act. Under the CP Act (s 27), summary offences A document that sets out what a person wants to happen to their money and other property after they die. continue to be heard in the Magistrates’ An independent body that hears legal claims brought by parties and decides between them. Serious cases are heard by a judge and jury, or just a judge. Less-serious cases are heard by a magistrate.. The CP Act also amends the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic) to introduce a six-month time limit for the filing of charges for summary offences in the Children’s Court.
The procedures for indictable matters are dealt with in chapter 5 of the CP Act. They will continue to be heard by a judge and A panel of people selected from the general public to decide whether an accused in a criminal case is guilty or not guilty, or to decide questions of fact and the amount to be awarded as damages in civil cases.. Indictable offences that may be heard in the Magistrates’ Court (if the A person who has been charged with a criminal offence or against whom a civil action has been brought. consents) are:
- those listed in schedule 2;
- any A criminal act prohibited by state or commonwealth criminal law. An offence is either a summary offence (minor) or an indictable offence (serious). punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment or less; or
- those where the offence is punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment or less, or a maximum fine not exceeding 120 penalty units (pu) (see ‘A note about penalty units’ at the start of this book).
The procedure for dealing with committals is dealt with in Parts 4.6 to 4.8 of the CP Act.
Mention, summary case conference and contest mention hearings
Under the CP Act, the mention The time and place at which a court or tribunal hears the parties argue their case and makes a decision. process remains the same.
The summary case conference procedure is described in section 54. It is a conference between the The party presenting evidence in court on behalf of the state or Commonwealth government against a person accused of committing a crime. Also called the Crown. and the A person who has been charged with a crime. Also known as a defendant. for the purpose of managing the progression of a case. The procedure includes the prosecution providing the accused with all the information and documents that may assist the accused to understand the Material presented to a court to prove or disprove a fact. It can include what witnesses say as well as documents and other objects. relied upon in the case. It also includes identifying any issues in dispute and identifying steps to be taken to advance the case. The Magistrates’ Court directs the parties to attend a case conference if it is satisfied the conference is appropriate.
The A preliminary hearing in which parties can try to reach agreement on some matters before a full hearing is held. is described in section 55. At that hearing the magistrate may require the prosecution and (1) A defendant’s response to the legal claims made against them in court by a prosecutor or plaintiff. (2) A lawful excuse for conduct: for example, causing minor injuries to someone while saving them from certain death. (3) ‘The defence’ is also a way of referring to the defendant and their legal team. to:
- give an estimate of the time the contested case will take;
- advise regarding the estimated number and availability of witnesses;
- identify the issues in dispute;
- advise whether there is any problem with legal representation or the funding of a case;
- advise whether interpreters will be required or other facilities will be needed for witnesses (e.g. video link requirements if a A person who can provide direct information based on their own knowledge about a relevant fact, and appears in court to give evidence about it. In some cases a witness may provide an affidavit or deposition setting out their evidence if they are not able to attend court. is interstate);
- order a A person or organisation directly involved in a court case. Parties include the plaintiff or applicant, the defendant, and any third party added to the action, but not independent witnesses. to file and serve written or oral Relevant or important. For example, material evidence is something that helps to prove an argument in a criminal case. required by the court;
- amend any documents that have been filed; and
- do anything else for the management of the case.
These requirements are all directed towards the efficient management of the case. The defendant must attend all contest mention hearings.
Trials in the County and Supreme Courts are governed by chapter 5 of the CP Act.
Appeals from the Magistrates’ Court to the County Court are dealt with in Part 6.1. Appeals on questions of law from the Magistrates’ Court to the Supreme Court are dealt with in Part 6.2.