Coming to court in person
It is important you attend your court hearing. If you don't attend, a warrant may be issued for your arrest or your matter may be heard and determined without you.
If you cannot attend call the NJC as a matter of urgency on 9087 5739
Step 1 – Getting ready
- Check how to get to the NJC – https://www.neighbourhoodjustice.vic.gov.au/get-to-the-centre (External link) and plan to arrive 30 minutes before your hearing time
- If you have any court documents (e.g. a summons) for your case, bring them with you
- You are welcome to bring a family member or friend to keep you company. Court Network volunteers can also help you in many ways. Call 1800 571 239 or visit the Court Network website (External link).
- You could be in court for a few hours. Try not to make any other appointments on your hearing day
- There is no childcare at the NJC, so if you have children please make arrangements for someone to look after them. That said, if you need help with your children, please call us as soon as you can so we can help you.
Importantly - get a lawyer as early as possible..Talk to the NJC about the duty lawyer service (External link). 9087 5739
We will organise an interpreter, including for Auslan.
Call court registry on 9948 8600.
If you concerned about your safety at court, talk to us to get a safety plan in place. This is particularly important if you are here for a family violence or personal safety matter.
Call Registry on 9948 8600 to organise a safety plan.
Step 2 – On arrival
- See security staff, complete the quick and simple COVID 19 screening questions and inform them you have a court hearing.
- Next, go to the Registry counter on Level 1 to check in.
The registry is where you check in for court and will be a main contact point for you.
- Hand any documents you have to one of the Registry staff
- Registry will ask if you have a lawyer or if you are representing yourself. If you need a lawyer, you may be eligible to see a free duty lawyer. Registry can help you with to speak with a duty lawyer. You can find more information here (External link).
- Registry staff will also ask if you are pleading ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’.
- If you need to talk to the police prosecutor, let Registry know and they will help you.
- At the NJC we have many support services to help with mental health, housing, addiction issues, financial issues, family violence and other issues. Help is free. To speak with a support worker, let your your lawyer or our Registry team know and they'll organise someone to talk to you.
- Once you have checked in, take seat and wait for your matter to be called.
Self-representing - information and advice
At the Neighbourhood Justice Centre we do our best to make the justice process as easy to understand as possible but the justice process is not simple. There are often many forms to complete, many people to talk to, and a lot of details to cover.
Before you decide to self-represent learn more about what you'll need to do and understand. More information here (External link).
Step 3 - Waiting for your matter
- Courts are busy places, so please be patient as you may be waiting for a few hours.
- If you need to leave the building for a short time tell Registry staff first.
- While you wait you can have a free tea or coffee and buy food at cheap prices at our cafe.
- You can also go into the court room and watch other matters.
- Registry staff or your lawyer will tell you when your matter is ready and you can go into the courtroom.
Step 4 – In the courtroom
Before entering the courtroom
- Put your phone on silent
- Get rid of any food, drinks or chewing gum
- Take off your cap and sunglasses.
In the courtroom
- Everyone bows to the magistrate when entering and leaving the courtroom. Please do the same.
- When your matter is called, the magistrate will ask your lawyer questions, for example, if you are pleading guilty, not guilty or asking for the matter to be adjourned (postponed) to another day.
- Your lawyer will speak for you, but you will also have opportunities to speak and ask questions.
- You call the magistrate 'Your Honour'
Step 5 – After court
- You may need to remain at the NJC after your matter is heard. And you may need to go to the registry counter to sign and/or collect documents.
- If you are not sure what to do, check with Registry before you leave the building.
More helpful things to know and do
Visit us first
It's normal to be anxious about coming to court. If you are, take a tour of the NJC a few days before your hearing to get a feel for the place.
We can show you around courtroom and explain what to expect on the day of your hearing.
Contact us on 9087 5739 to organise a pre-hearing tour.
What to wear
All courts ask people to dress appropriately. This doesn't mean the court expects people to buy new clothes, it simply means that everyone is asked to dress neatly.
- Men: long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and closed toe shoes, or runners.
- Women: long pants, or knee length or longer skirt, a top with sleeves, and any footwear but thongs.
Dressing appropriately for court extends to lawyers and court staff who show their respect to the court and to you by doing so.
Who sits where in the courtroom
The accused person, offender or respondent sits at the bar table, the same table the lawyers sit at. (Only people who are held in custody sit in the dock).
We want people to be part of what's going on, which is why the person before the court sits at the bar table.
Friends, family and all other visitors sit in the gallery, these are the row of seats behind the bar table.
For more information call us on 9087 5739