A committal Hearing is a Hearing held before the Local Court of NSW prior to the matter proceeding to the District Court for Trial. A Committal Hearing is an opportunity for the Defence to ‘test’ the evidence of the prosecution and will require a Magistrate to decide whether there is enough evidence for the matter to proceed to trial before the District Court of NSW. There are significant rules for contested Committal Hearings and you should immediately obtain legal advice prior to making these decisions. A Committal Hearing requires the Magistrate to be satisfied that a jury, which is properly instructed, would find you guilty of the offence beyond reasonable doubt. If the Magistrate, after Contested Hearing, does not find that a jury reasonably instructed would find you guilty, then the Magistrate will dismiss the charge against you.
A paper committal is a Committal Hearing whereby the Police Brief of Evidence is tendered by consent and the Magistrate reads the Brief of Evidence and makes a determination upon the Brief of Evidence as to whether there is sufficient evidence for the matter to proceed to trial. This usually occurs when w no witnesses are required to be called.
Waiver of committal
In certain circumstances, the defence will agree to the waiver of the committal stage. This is usually done where there are no contentious issues in that the defence agrees that, on the evidence provided by the prosecution, there is the ‘possibility’ of a conviction being recorded.
Section 91 submissions
Submissions under Section 91 of the Criminal Procedure Act, determines when the defence will be allowed to cross-examine prosecution witnesses at a contested Committal Hearing. The section is specific in its rules as to what witnesses are allowed to be cross-examined and in what circumstances such cross-examination may take place.
Section 93 submissions
Submissions under Section 93 of the Criminal Procedure Act, determines which witnesses the defence will be allowed to cross-examine at a contested Committal Hearing. In matters where an individual is charged with an offence involving violence, the Magistrate will not direct the attendance of the alleged victim of the offence who has made a written statement for cross-examination in committal proceedings unless the Magistrate is satisfied that there are special reasons why the alleged victim of the offence, in the interest of justice, must attend to give oral evidence.