About the Magistrates Court

The Magistrates Court is the first level of the Queensland Courts system and hears about 94% 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.

Magistrates Courts can hear cases in around 130 locations throughout Queensland. Find your local courthouse.

What the court deals with

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.

Read more about what happens in the Magistrates Court in criminal cases.

The Magistrates Court deals with civil cases if the amount in dispute is $150,000 or less. The District and Supreme Courts deals with amounts larger than this.

Read more about what happens in civil cases involving money disputes.

The Magistrates Court also deals with:

  • some minor family law matters (though most go to the Family Court)
  • domestic violence matters
  • applications for child protection orders
  • some other Commonwealth matters, such as those covered by the Customs Act 1901, Social Security Act 1991 and Taxation Act 1953.

Other areas of responsibility are the:

  • Childrens Court (Magistrates Court): a special, closed Magistrates Court where a person appears if they have been charged with committing an offence when they were under 18 years old.
  • Coroners Court: which reviews accidental or sudden deaths that need more explanation.