Victoria Legal Aid

Going to court – what I want to say in court

Use these questions to help you plan what you want to say when you speak to the speak to the magistrate at court.

Print this page and write notes in the spaces below or on another piece of paper. You can read from these notes in the courtroom but make sure you look at the magistrate too. (Do not write notes on your phone as you should turn off your phone in the courtroom.)

Support people

Who is at court supporting you today? The magistrate may ask these people questions.

About the offence

How and why did the offence happen? For example, if you were charged with a driving offence, the magistrate may ask why you were you driving. Describe anything you want to say about what happened on the day of the offence. Explain what you did but do not excuse your actions.

Accepting responsibility

You can talk about anything you have done to make up for the offence or to accept responsibility. For example, paying for damage you caused, co-operating with police or apologising to the victim.

What have you learned and how do you feel about what you did?

For example, you feel sorry about how your offence affected other people.

What are you doing to stop the behaviour happening again?

For example, are you sorting out any drug or alcohol problems, seeing a counsellor or social worker, or selling your car if you were charged with a driving offence?

What was happening in your life when the offence happened?

For example, do you have a disability, were you experiencing mental health issues or was someone in your family unwell?


Who do you live with? Do you have children? How old are they? Do you have a partner? Do you have anyone else who supports you?

Your financial circumstances

What is your income each week? (wage, Centrelink payment or other income)

Income $

What are the main things you pay for each week?

Rent/mortgage $

Loan or debt repayments $ weekly/fortnightly/monthly repayments

Health issues

Are you seeing a doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist or counsellor? If so, what is their name?

How long have you been seeing them for treatment?

What medication are they prescribing you, if any?

What medical conditions are they treating you for?

What drug or alcohol issues are they treating you for or helping you with, if any?

Character references and medical letters

If you have any references or medical letters or reports, you can give these to the magistrate. You must show these to the prosecutor first.

Losing your licence

If the matter is about a traffic offence and you may lose your licence, explain why you need to keep your driver licence. For example, you need your licence to keep your job or to pick up children. Remember that for some driving matters the magistrate has no choice and must take away your licence.


Explain why you do not want a conviction recorded for your offence. For example, a conviction will affect your chance of getting certain jobs in the future or going travelling. It is important to tell the court if you are studying or training for a particular job.

Other support

For more information, support and referrals, visit:

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at

Reviewed 01 November 2023

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