Coming to court in person

It is important you attend your matter.

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 (03) 9948 8600.

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, please bring them with you. 
  • You are welcome to bring a family member or friend to keep you company.  Court Network volunteers can help. 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 make other arrangements
  • .Bring a face mask. You must wear a face mask at all times at the NJC unless you have a medical exemption. You must also practice physical distancing (stand 1.5 metres away from people).

    Importantly - get a lawyer as early as possible..Talk to the NJC about the duty lawyer service (External link). 9948 8777​​

 

Interpreter services

We will organise an interpreter, including for Auslan.

Call court registry on 9948 8600.

 

Your safety

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.  

At Registry

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 talk to a support work, let Registry or your lawyer know, and they will set up a meeting
  • 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 do a practice run before your hearing.

We can show you around courtroom and give you a handy overview of what to expect on the day of your hearing.

Contact us on 9948 8777 to organise.

What to wear

  • Men: wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and closed toe shoes, or runners.
  • Women: wear long pants, or knee length or longer skirt, a top with sleeves, and any footwear but thongs.

Dressing for court extends to lawyers and court staff who show their respect to the court and to you by also dressing appropriately.

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.