There is now a greater public right of access to criminal case information in the WA Magistrates Court. Practitioners acting for accused persons in the WA Magistrates Court should be aware – and, where appropriate, advise their clients – that an amendment to the Magistrates Court (General) Rules 2005 (new rule 40) now allows any person to request from the court the following information relating to a particular case:
- the charge;
- any conviction or order made in respect of the charge; and
- any penalty imposed on the accused in relation to the charge.
However, this rule is expressly subject to the non-publication provisions of s 171 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2004. In appropriate circumstances, consideration should be given to seeking a non-publication order under s 171(4) to avoid the effect of this rule.
Also, this rule does not allow anyone to generally access the accused’s criminal history other than the outcome of the specific case.
The commentary in the By Lawyers Criminal Magistrates Court (WA) guide has been updated accordingly.