The time between a prosecution starting and a trial can be lengthy. It depends on:
- the size and complexity of the prosecution
- available Court resources
- applications to the Court by the prosecution or defence to deal with legal issues relevant to the prosecution. These hearings could relate to admissibility of evidence, name suppression or other issues to do with the trial.
It is unlikely you will have to attend preparatory hearings, but if you are required you will be notified in advance.
If you plead not guilty, there are a number of stages before the case is actually tried before a judge and a jury (or a judge sitting without a jury) to determine if the charges are proven.
First, the prosecution must disclose all of its evidence to your lawyer, including formal written statements from possible prosecution witnesses. Disclosure may consist of many thousands of documents.
2. Case management conference
You will attend a case management conference before the judge to explain whether you intend changing your plea and, if not, the prosecution and defence must explain to the judge what steps need to be conducted before the trial can begin. As part of this process, each side may require a pre-trial application in which the judge is asked to rule on an aspect of evidence or procedure.
3. Pre-trial callover
The prosecution and defence confirm the case is ready for trial.
At the completion of your trial, if you are found guilty the case is normally adjourned for sentencing. This enables to the judge to receive reports such as a victim impact statement and information about you before deciding what the sentence should be.
To find out more, download the Guide to SFO Prosecutions.