New procedures apply to the first remand hearing for criminal matters in the Magistrates’ Court from 8 January, 2024.
A first remand hearing is when an accused in custody is initially brought before the court. Under Practice Direction no. 1 of 2024, the accused is required to attend in person unless the court has directed under s 42MAA(1) of the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 that they can appear online.
An application under s 42MAA(1) for the accused to appear online can be made by a police officer, the prosecutor, or the accused’s lawyer.
The application must include:
- a statement as to how an online appearance is consistent with the interests of justice;
- a statement either that the accused consents to appearing online or that exceptional circumstances apply, in which case they must be set out;
- whether the accused has received legal advice;
- whether there are facilities to enable the accused to communicate with their lawyer before and during the hearing;
- whether the accused intends to apply for bail;
- whether the accused requires an interpreter; and
- whether the accused identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
Lawyers must also appear in person at the first remand hearing. Exceptions to this requirement apply if the court has directed that the client can appear online, or the client is Aboriginal and the lawyer’s appearance would assist the court considering the issues in s 3A of the Bail Act1977, but the lawyer cannot appear in person, or the court has directed otherwise. If an exception applies the lawyer can attend online.
If appearing online, it is the practitioner’s responsibility to ensure they have audio-visual capability from an appropriate, private location and their online appearance must not cause delay or interrupt the court.
The By Lawyers Criminal Magistrates Court guide has been updated accordingly, including with the new form of application.