1 Jul 2013

Court system revamp takes effect

8:41 am on 1 July 2013

Changes to the way courts handle criminal cases, described as the most significant in 50 years, have come into effect.

One of the major changes from 1 July is the ranking of offences on a four-step scale.

Charges have previously been dealt with according to whether they are summary offences, dealt with by a district court judge, or indictable charges, which usually means a jury trial.

Under the new system, Category 1 offences will include matters punishable by a fine only, such as offensive behaviour, while Category 4 will be for the most serious offences such as murder and manslaughter.

Those arrested will be required to enter a plea at their second court appearance and case management meetings between prosecution and defence counsel will take place outside the courtroom.