COVID-19 and criminal hearings in the Magistrates’ Court

COVID-19 and criminal hearings in the Magistrates’ Court

What you need to know

The Magistrates’ Court has changed the way it works because of COVID-19 coronavirus. Due to COVID-19 and the restrictions in Victoria, the court has been adjourning (moving) most hearings to a later date. This has now changed and there are five things you need to know:  

  • hearings are happening across Victoria but most will happen online, without you needing to go to a court. In regional Victoria, hearings are starting from 19 October 2020. In metropolitan Melbourne, hearings are starting from 9 November 2020 
  • except for urgent family violence matters, you must not attend your local court without contacting them first and getting permission to attend 
  • you must contact the court or your lawyer, if you have one, about your hearing before the hearing date 
  • the court is using a program called WebEx for online hearings 
  • if you are not sure about your rights, or whether you must go to court, you can get legal advice. See Get help

How do I know when my case is listed? 

If you are represented by a lawyer, the court will give them your new hearing date. You can contact your lawyer to find out your new hearing date. 

If you don’t have a lawyer you should receive a letter and/or a text message from the court telling you your next hearing date.  

If you haven’t received a letter or a text message you can search your case online

If you can’t find your hearing date, contact your local court.

How will my court case go ahead? 

The court is hearing most cases online. The court is using a program called WebEx for online hearings.

You, or your lawyer if you have one, must contact the court at least three days before your court date to let the court know if you are ready to go ahead. 

If you don’t have a lawyer, you can get help with your court case. Use this Help before court tool to prepare for your court case or see Get help.

Do I need to go to the court building? 

Unless you have spoken to someone at the court and been told you are allowed to attend in person, you must not go to your local court.  

The court has made special rules about hearings for people who are not in custody. Most hearings will be online, using a program called WebEx.  

Even if you do not go to your local court for your hearing, you still need participate in your hearing by joining the online hearing using WebEx.  

You can access WebEx on a computer, tablet or smartphone. For more information about how to use WebEx, see How does an online hearing work?

Some people will need to go to court, rather than do an online hearing. If you think that you need to attend in person, you must contact your local court to discuss this. If you have a lawyer, you should also talk to them about going to court or doing an online hearing. 

How does an online hearing work?

To join an online hearing you need an email address and access to the internet. You can use your own email address and internet, or you can ask someone else to help you access email and use the internet. 

The court or your lawyer will provide you with a link via email. You can join a hearing by clicking on this link using a computer, laptop, tablet or even a mobile phone. You do not need to download an app.

Read our Quick guide for clients – online hearings in the Magistrates’ Court (docx, 245.9 KB) or for more information about how to use WebEx see the WebEx user guide on the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria website.

What if I am on bail?

You need to keep following your bail conditions until your next court date. If you do not follow your bail conditions, you could be arrested and put in custody until your hearing. 

Your court date might be changed and if it is the court will automatically extend your bail to the new court date. You must participate in your court hearing but this is likely to be online. 

If you are worried about your bail conditions, you should get legal advice. See Get help.  

What if I my contact details change?

If you change your address or telephone number, it is important to tell the Magistrates’ Court. The court will need to contact you to tell you when your hearing will be.  

If you are on bail, you must tell the police immediately if you change your address or telephone number.  

It is also important to tell your lawyer if your contact details change, so they can let you know when your hearing will be and to discuss your case with you. 

More information

Learn more about how the court is operating at the Magistrates’ Court website

Learn more about legal issues and COVID-19 coronavirus

See our Find legal answers page on Going to court for a criminal charge

See our Find Legal Answers page Family Violence

Where to get help

Use this Help before court tool to prepare for your court case

See Get help with COVID-19 coronavirus

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