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Understanding The Queensland Court System

Appearing in court is a daunting and stressful experience, and the team at Howden Saggers Lawyers are here to represent you at this difficult time.  We are experts in Criminal Law and Traffic Law with offices in Brisbane and on The Gold Coast.

There are three Courts in Queensland :

  1. Magistrate’s Court
  2. District Court
  3. Supreme Court

Each of them operate differently, deal with different cases and offences and have their own intricacies and nuances that only expert representation knows how to help you navigate.

Below is a very short overview of each Court.

1. The Magistrates Court

The Magistrates Court is the first level of the Queensland Courts system and hears about 95% of court cases. Most criminal cases are first heard in this court in some form. Most civil actions are also heard here.

Unlike the Supreme and District Courts, Magistrates Courts have no jury. Therefore, the magistrate makes all decisions in criminal matters, including any penalty.

The magistrate also makes all decisions in civil matters, including an order that one side pay the other money or perform certain actions to rectify a problem.

A person charged with a criminal offence must be brought before the Magistrates Court as a soon as possible after being charged.

The Magistrates Court deals with a range of offences including:

  • Less serious offences (summary offences), such as traffic infringements
  • Minor offences, such as shoplifting or disorderly behaviour
  • More serious offences, such as burglary, assault, fraud and drugs.

* Where the offence is more serious, the magistrate may commit the case to the District Court or Supreme Court for sentence or trial.

2. The District Court

The District Court is the second tier of the court system after the Magistrates Court. Under Queensland law, all criminal cases must first be brought to the Magistrates Court. 

The District Court is where you will appear when you are charged with serious criminal offences or when you file for divorce or child custody. 

Criminal trials in the District Court will involve a jury.

The District Court deals with a range of offences and matters including:

  • Serious crimes, including armed robbery, rape and dangerous driving.
  • Civil disputes between people and organisations involving amounts between $150,000 and $750,000.
  • Appeals against decisions made in the Magistrates Court 

3. The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest level of court in Queensland. It comprises the trial division and the Court of Appeal (where appeals from the District Court are heard).

What the two divisions do :

  • The trial division deals with the most serious criminal offences, including major drug offences, attempted murder, manslaughter and murder.
  • The trial division also deals with civil disputes between people and organisations over money or property involving amounts greater than $750,000.
  • Unlike a criminal case, a civil action can be commenced and heard in the Supreme Court without first being heard in the Magistrates Court.
  • The Court of Appeal hears appeals from the trial division and the District Court.

What Should I Do If I Am Required To Appear in Court?

Seek the advice of an expert Criminal Lawyer.

With offices in Brisbane and The Gold Coast, the team at Howden Saggers Lawyers appear in Court every day. We know the Magistrates; we understand the procedures. We have a great relationship with many Barristers at the Queensland Bar. We understand how the Courts work. We understand the pressures that you may feel in having to go to Court.

We also believe that legal fees shouldn’t break the bank and for that reason we are quite often able to undertake matters on the basis of a fixed fee. This means you will know exactly how much your matter will cost.

Howden Saggers Lawyers is also a Preferred Supplier for Legal Aid Queensland. This means that we are able to undertake matters funded by Legal Aid Queensland as long as you meet the required eligibility criteria.

At Howden Saggers Lawyers our lawyers appear in Court every day, we understand that procedures, we know the law, we get the results.

We are on your side.