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Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

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What happens in court when you're charged with a crime

Attendance at the Magistrate's Court

When is the court in session?

The Magistrate’s Court sits twice daily at 10am and 2.30pm. Court sessions last up to three hours. If any cases are not heard within these three hours the Magistrate will adjourn the case to the next session.

What should I wear?

You must be appropriately dressed with a clean and tidy appearance. A poor appearance could be regarded as a show of disrespect to the court and may result in your case being delayed.

What should I do on arrival at court?

  1. do not arrive at court later than the time stated. If you do so without good reason you have committed an offence and become liable for arrest. Do not leave the building before your case is called without the court's permission
  2. when you arrive report to the enquiry desk to identify yourself and inform the usher you are present
  3. the usher will direct you to the appropriate court and ask that you make yourself known to the court usher. The court usher will inform you if your advocate (legal representative) is present and further direct you to the interview room where you will meet him / her
  4. if you do not have legal representation you will be led straight to the courtroom
  5. a duty advocate will be present in court to advise in cases where your liberty, or employment, is at serious risk
  6. if you have any particular needs, such as an interpreter or have difficulty hearing, inform the usher prior to court commencing
  7. your mobile phone must be switched off before entering court

When do I go into court?

You will be called by the Centenier. On entering the court you, and all those connected with the case, will be shown where to go. You must stand when you speak to the Magistrate until the Magistrate invites you to sit.

All proceedings are officially recorded. Taking photographs of, or digitally recording, the proceedings is not allowed.

What is the procedure?

  1. the Magistrate will identify you by name. If there are co-defendants the Magistrate will identify each person individually
  2. the Centenier will read the charge(s)
  3. if you are represented by an advocate he / she will answer the charges on your behalf
  4. the Magistrate will ask you if you plead ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ to the charge or charges.  If you wish to reserve your plea to obtain legal advice the case will be remanded, normally for two weeks, to allow you to seek this advice.  The usher will give you a legal aid form to complete and take to the Legal Aid Office as soon as possible
  5. at any time during the court proceedings the Magistrate may speak to you and ask questions. You must stand and answer the questions
  6. you should always address the Magistrate as either 'Sir' or 'Madam'

Referral to the Royal Court

Where an offence is considered to be of a very serious nature the Magistrate's Court may request that the case be handled by the Royal Court. The case will then be adjourned for six weeks to prepare the paperwork. 

Your plea

What happens if I plead ‘guilty’?

  • the Magistrate will hear details of the allegations against you and you will be able to tell your account of the incident and anything about yourself which might affect your sentence
  • if you intend to plead guilty bring anything such as a personal or work reference(s) which you want the Magistrate to read before sentencing
  • your case may be adjourned to enable the Magistrate to obtain further background information to assist him / her when deciding on an appropriate sentence, such as a Social Enquiry Report prepared by a probation officer
  • alternatively, the Magistrate may ask the Duty Probation officer to undertake a ‘Stand-down’ report to deal with your case immediately. You will then be shown into a private room by the Duty Probation Officer for an interview. Your case will be recalled once the Probation Officer has completed the report

What happens if I plead ‘not guilty’?

  • your case will be adjourned for approximately three weeks for a review by the Police Legal Adviser. The Police Legal Adviser will consider the strength of evidence and if they wish to proceed will make arrangements for a Pre-Trial Review (PTR) and trial  
  • you can approach an advocate to represent you at your own expense
  • if you do not have any legal representation, you will be given a legal aid form by the court usher which you should take to the Acting Batonnier, currently located at CollasCrill, Don Street (open weekdays between 8.45am and 9.45am)
  • at the trial the prosecution will present the evidence first. The witnesses for the defence, including you, will then have an opportunity to give evidence
  • the Magistrate will then consider the evidence on both sides. The Magistrate will reach a decision and give reasons and judgment for that decision
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