A defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Getting legal advice
It doesn’t matter what the offence is, we strongly recommend that a defendant obtain legal advice from a lawyer before going to court.
A lawyer can:
- explain what the offence means and what the penalty might be
- help you decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty
- help you decide whether to give evidence in court (not compulsory)
- gather information and get a copy of the police evidence
- organise witnesses to support your version of events
- explain what will happen in court.
Find out where to get legal and procedural advice.
You may represent yourself in any of Queensland’s courts. Find links to assistance, support and information about representing yourself in court.
Arriving at court
The process for arriving at court is similar in the Magistrates Court, Supreme Court and District Court.
It is important that you stay informed about how Queensland Courts are managing court attendance during the COVID-19 response.
The daily law lists, also displayed on noticeboards or television screens in the courthouse foyers, show the cases and which courtrooms they will be heard in each day.
You must wait until your case is called, which could take some time, so you should take the day off work and arrange childcare if needed.
- leave home earlier to get to the courthouse, especially if using public transport
- allow extra time to attend the registry and move around the courthouse as safe distancing rules apply (e.g. in queues, seating and lifts)
- organise all paperwork you require and a pen, to reduce time waiting
- provide card payment at the registry, if possible.
When you arrive, seek assistance at the counter with the ‘registry’ sign about what courtroom the case is in (or look it up on the daily law list).
If you need an interpreter, raise this with the prosecutor or your defence lawyer as soon as possible. Once you reach the courtroom where your matter will be heard, seek out the prosecutor or defence lawyer to tell them you need an interpreter.
If you’re in the Magistrates Court, you may ask for a duty lawyer to represent you. Make sure you tell the prosecutor you’re seeing a duty lawyer.
You may also ask for a volunteer from the Court Network or other organisation that may provide free counselling and support before and after court.
It is very important that you not miss your court appearance. At the Magistrates and District Courts, you can wait for their case outside your courtroom or sit outside the courtroom in the public gallery to learn what happens.
In the Magistrates Court, you should wait to be called. In the District Court, you can check with the bailiff when the judge is ready to hear the matter.
In the Supreme Court, you should wait inside the courtroom and check with the bailiff when the trial will commence.
Defendants in custody are brought to court by correctional officers or police in regional areas.
If you need additional support or if you want to change your behaviour, see our information on court programs.