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Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)

In Australia, an arraignment is a significant stage in criminal proceedings. It is a formal court hearing where the accused person is brought before a judge usually in the District Court of NSW, to have the charges against them read out and to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The purpose of an arraignment is to ensure that the accused understands the charges against them and to formally establish their plea.


During an arraignment, the court will inform the accused of the specific offences they are charged with and provide them with an opportunity to respond. The charges are read out, and the accused is asked to enter a plea. If the accused pleads guilty, the court may proceed to sentencing or adjourn the matter for a later sentence hearing. If the accused pleads not guilty, the case will proceed to a trial. A trial will usually proceed by way of a jury trial or a judge alone trial.


The Local Court generally handles the majority of criminal cases, while the District Court deals with more serious offences known as indictable offences. It is crucial to understand the jurisdiction of the District Court of NSW for individuals involved in legal matters.


Although a case may initiate in the Local Court, it could be transferred to the District Court or Supreme Court of NSW if it involves an indictable offence. Various factors, such as personal background, specific allegations, and the prosecutor’s stance, may influence the finalisation location if the offence is indictable and can be resolved in the Local Court. Criminal offences can be classified as follows:


  • Summary offences, which are the least severe, typically fall within the jurisdiction of the local courts.
  • Table 1 or Table 2 offences, which have a moderate severity, may be heard in either the Local or District Courts.
  • The most serious crimes are classified as indictable offences, and these are typically resolved in the District or Supreme Court.

Arraignment Meaning

At law, an arraignment refers to the process of formally presenting the charges against an accused individual in court. It is an essential step in criminal proceedings, ensuring that the accused is aware of the charges they are facing and has the opportunity to respond to them.


During an arraignment, the accused is brought before a judge, and the charges are read out. The purpose of this is to provide the accused with notice of the specific allegations against them, allowing them to understand the nature of the charges and prepare their defence accordingly. The accused is then required to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.


The arraignment is a procedural stage that serves to initiate the legal process and establish the framework for further proceedings. It is an important part of ensuring due process and safeguarding the rights of the accused.

Arraignment Court Process in NSW

In New South Wales (NSW), the arraignment process follows a specific set of procedures. Here is an overview of the arraignment process in NSW:


Court Appearance


The accused person is required to appear before the court on a specified date and time for their arraignment. This appearance is usually scheduled after 6 months in the Local Court pursuant to the EAGP Process in NSW. The arraignment is usually held in the District Court of NSW before a Judge.


Charges and Rights


During the arraignment, the associate of the Judge or a court officer will read out the charges against the accused. The accused person has the right to hear the charges and understand them fully.


Legal Representation


The accused has the right to legal representation during the arraignment. If they don’t have a lawyer, they can seek legal aid or request an adjournment to obtain a lawyer to represent them.


Plea Entry


The accused will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If the accused pleads guilty, the court will adjourn the matter to a later date for sentencing submissions. If the accused pleads not guilty, the case will proceed to a trial or other subsequent hearings.


Bail Consideration


If the accused is in custody, the court may consider a bail application at the arraignment. The court will assess factors such as the seriousness of the charges, the risk of flight, and the risk to public safety when making a bail decision.


Adjournment or Trial Preparation


After the arraignment, if the accused pleads not guilty, the court may set a trial date or adjourn the matter for trial preparation. This may involve case management hearings, disclosure of evidence, and other necessary steps leading up to the trial.

Going To Court?

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Can Charges be Dropped at an Arraignment Hearing?

In New South Wales (NSW), charges can potentially be dropped at an arraignment hearing. However this is not the primary purpose of the arraignment. The primary focus of the arraignment is for the accused to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. However, certain circumstances may lead to charges being dropped during this stage.


The decision to drop charges lies with the DPP or the CDPP. This really depends on many variables, you should obtain legal advice regarding this.

What is a Mention at Court?

In Australia, a mention at court is a brief procedural hearing where the parties involved in a legal case, such as the prosecution and defence, come before the court to discuss the progress of the case.


A mention is not a trial or a hearing to determine guilt or innocence; rather, it serves as a means of managing and monitoring the case’s progress. During a mention, the court may address various matters, including:


  • Disclosure: The parties may discuss the exchange of evidence and documents relevant to the case.
  • Case management: The court may address any administrative or logistical issues related to the case, such as setting future hearing dates or addressing the availability of witnesses.
  • Plea negotiations: The prosecution and defence may engage in discussions regarding potential plea agreements or resolutions.
  • Legal arguments: The parties may raise legal issues or arguments related to the case that require the court’s attention.

If you have been charged with an indictable offence in NSW and are proceeding to a jury trial, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately.


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