Committals: Issues Paper (html)



A person charged with a criminal offence or offences who has not yet been found guilty or pleaded guilty.

Brief of evidence

The material relied on by the prosecution in a criminal case.

Children’s Court

A specialist court that hears and determines cases involving children and young people.


The process by which indictable offences are transferred from a lower court, where the charges are first filed, to a higher court.

Committal mention

A case management hearing in a committal proceeding.

Committal proceeding

A pre-trial proceeding in the Magistrates’ Court, during which a magistrate determines whether the evidence in a case is of sufficient weight to support a conviction.


A term used in criminal cases to refer to a victim of crime.

County Court of Victoria

The County Court sits above the Magistrates’ Court and below the Supreme Court in the Victorian court hierarchy. In its criminal jurisdiction it hears indictable criminal cases, except for the most serious. Criminal trials in this court are heard by a judge and jury.


When a witness for one party (for example the prosecution) is asked questions in court by the lawyer for the other party (for example the accused) to test the evidence the witness has already given. See also evidence-in-chief.


The accused person’s case and the lawyers who represent them.


A person who is charged with a criminal offence—also referred to as the accused.

Direct indictment

An indictment filed by the Director of Public Prosecutions against an accused who has not been committed for trial. Known in some jurisdictions as an ex-officio indictment.

Directions hearing

A case management hearing in a higher court.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)

The official who makes decisions about whether to prosecute serious criminal matters and is independent of government. The Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions is responsible for prosecuting criminal offences under Victorian law. The Office of Public Prosecutions conducts these prosecutions on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.


In relation to committal proceedings, where a magistrate determines there is insufficient evidence to support a conviction of the accused on a particular charge and ends the case.


Providing information or material to a party as required by law.


Where the Director of Public Prosecutions determines not to proceed with charges that have been brought before a court.

Ex-officio Indictment

See Direct Indictment.


The evidence given by a witness to support his or her case.


A brief of evidence used in indictable criminal proceedings in Victoria.

Higher court

In Victoria, the County Court or the Supreme Court.

Indictable offence

A serious criminal offence that is usually heard in a higher court before a judge and jury.

Indictable offence triable summarily

Less serious indictable offence which can be heard before a magistrate.


A formal written accusation charging a person with an indictable offence that is to be tried in a higher court.


The officer (usually a police officer) responsible for investigating and filing charges against the accused.

Investigating agency

The agency investigating a criminal offence. This is often Victoria Police but can also be other statutory agencies.


Permission given by a judge or magistrate to a party during a legal proceeding to take a particular course of action.

Legal Aid

Legal assistance provided by the government to people who cannot afford it themselves. In Victoria, Legal Aid provides legal information, advice and representation to people in accordance with the Legal Aid Act 1978 (Vic).

Local Court

The equivalent of the Magistrates’ Court in some other Australian jurisdictions.


The person who presides over a case in the Magistrates’ Court.

Magistrates’ Court

A lower court which hears less serious matters without a jury. It is responsible for hearing and determining summary offences and some indictable offences triable summarily, and for conducting committal proceedings.


A short court hearing to deal with procedural matters.


A person who has been found guilty or has pleaded guilty to a criminal offence. Until this happens, a person is known as an accused.

Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP)

An independent statutory authority that institutes, prepares and conducts criminal prosecutions on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.


A binding direction by a court or tribunal in a legal proceeding.


The prosecution and the accused in a criminal proceeding.


When the accused person tells the court whether he or she is guilty or not guilty of the charge.

Plea brief

A brief of evidence used when the accused indicates an intention to plead guilty before the hand-up brief has been served.

Plea hearing

The hearing in which the prosecution and defence present information that they want the court to take into account when deciding the sentence in the case.


In indictable cases, the lawyers conducting a criminal case before the court on behalf of the investigating agency. ‘A prosecution’ may also refer to the case against a person accused of a criminal offence.


The penalty given to an offender by a court.

Sentencing hearing

See plea hearing.

Summary offence

A less serious criminal offence that may be dealt with by a magistrate.

Supreme Court of Victoria

The highest court in Victoria that deals with the most serious criminal offences. Criminal trials in this court are heard by a judge and jury.


In this issues paper, a person who has directly suffered harm as a result of the action of the offender. Victim also applies to a person alleged by the prosecution to be a victim prior to a determination of guilt, as well as a victim of an offence for which an offender has been found guilty.


Where a charge against an accused is no longer prosecuted.


A person who gives evidence in a case.

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