Contempt of Court: Consultation Paper (html)



Found not guilty of the charge or charges on the indictment.


Person charged with a criminal offence or offences but who has not been found guilty or pleaded guilty.

Balance of probabilities

The standard of proof in civil proceedings. Often described as ‘more likely than not’ or ‘more probable than not’. This is a lesser standard than beyond reasonable doubt.

Beyond reasonable doubt

The standard of proof in criminal proceedings. This is a higher standard than the balance of probabilities.


A person under the age of 18 years.

Civil jurisdiction

The procedures for hearing legal disputes other than criminal cases.

Committal for trial or sentence

The process of transferring a case against an accused from the Magistrates’ Court to the Supreme Court or County Court.

Common law

Law that derives its authority from decisions of the courts rather than from legislation.


Term used in the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) and other legislation to describe the person against whom a sexual offence is alleged to have been perpetrated.


A person who has been found to have committed a contempt of court.

Contempt by publication

Publishing material which has a real and definite tendency to interfere with, or is intended to interfere with, particular pending civil or criminal proceedings. Also referred to as sub judice contempt.

Contempt in the face of the court

Intentional acts of contempt that occur within, or in the precincts of, a court.

Contempt of court

Words or actions which interfere with the proper administration of justice or constitute a disregard for the authority of the court. Comprises both the physical disturbance of particular proceedings in a court that prevent a court from attending to its business and any interference with the authority of the court that impairs confidence and respect in the court and its judgments. Includes contempt in the face of the court and contempt by publication.

Contempt proceedings

Proceedings in which it is alleged that a contempt of court has been committed. Can be instituted by a court, the Attorney-General, a party or private person.

Criminal offence

A crime against the state. Most criminal offences are specified in the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic). The main categories of criminal offence are indictable offences, indictable offences triable summarily, and summary offences.


The legal team representing the accused (in the lead-up to and before the determination of guilt), or the offender (after a determination of guilt).

Directions hearing

A brief hearing in front of a judicial officer in which orders are made about what should happen next in a case before a court or tribunal, such as how the case is to be managed and the timeframes that are to apply.

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 criminal offences under Victorian law. The Office of Public Prosecutions conducts criminal prosecutions on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.


The situation where a magistrate determines that there is not enough evidence to justify sending an accused person to trial, thereby ending the prosecution.

Discharge a juror

To release a juror from the jury after the jury has been sworn in.

Empanelment of the jury/empanelling the jury

The process of selecting the jury for a trial.

Family member

Includes a person’s child, parent, spouse, domestic partner or relative, including grandparents, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, as well as a person who is regarded in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander tradition or custom as a family member.

Family violence

Has the meaning as defined in the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic). Refers to behaviour by a person towards a family member that is physically abusive, sexually abusive, emotionally abusive, psychologically abusive, economically abusive, threatening, coercive, or in any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes them to fear for their safety or that of someone else.

Indictable offences

Serious crimes which attract higher maximum penalties. Prosecuted by the Office of Public Prosecutions. Usually triable before a judge and jury.

Indictable offences triable summarily

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


The charge or charges against the accused that the Director of Public Prosecutions has filed in the Supreme or County Court.

Inferior court

Any court which is not a superior court. At common law this includes both the County Court of Victoria and the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

Inherent jurisdiction

The authority to adjudicate vested in a court as a consequence of it being a court of a particular description, notably a superior court of unlimited jurisdiction. Inherent jurisdiction extends to matters necessary for proper administration of justice and includes the power to prevent abuse of process and to punish for contempt of court.


Describes a system administered, or a decision made, by a judicial officer.

Judicial direction/ jury direction

Instructions provided by the judge to the jury. These directions guide the conduct of jurors and provide instructions on what they need to consider in deciding the case.

Judicial officer

Usually a judge or magistrate. Can also sometimes refer to a coroner or judicial registrar.

Juries Commissioner’s Office (JCO)

The office responsible for jury administration in Victoria.


The scope of a court’s power to examine and determine the facts, interpret and apply the law, make orders and declare judgment. Jurisdiction may be limited by geographic area, the type of parties who appear, the type of relief that can be sought, and the point to be decided.


A member of the jury.


The group of jurors selected to make findings of guilt or otherwise in criminal matters and findings of fault and damages in civil matters. The jury is selected in court from the jury panel.

Jury panel

The group of prospective jurors from which the selection of the jury is made in court. The jury panel is randomly selected from the jury pool.

Jury pool

The group of prospective jurors from which the jury panel is randomly selected.


Includes barristers (sometimes referred to as counsel) and solicitors.


The permission of a judge or magistrate.

New media

The use of digital technologies for mass communication, such as online news, blogs and social media. New media are easily accessible to a worldwide audience, publish content instantly, are interactive, and are an alternative to traditional media such as hard copy newspapers, television and radio broadcasts.


Used to describe a person who has been found guilty or who has pleaded guilty to a criminal offence. The term ‘alleged offender’ is used to describe a person who is alleged to have committed a criminal offence, but who may not have been charged with or convicted of that offence.

Office of Public Prosecution (OPP)

The independent statutory authority that institutes, prepares and conducts criminal prosecutions in the County and Supreme Courts on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.


A direction by a court or tribunal that is final and binding unless overturned on appeal.


An answer by the accused to a charge of an offence which usually takes the form of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’.

Practice Direction

A procedural guideline issued by a judicial officer to guide the practice of a court or tribunal.

Procedural fairness

The requirement that legal proceedings are conducted in a manner that is fair. In particular, procedural fairness requires that parties have the opportunity to be heard, and have their disputes determined by an impartial decision maker.

Prosecutorial body

In this paper, refers to either Victoria Police, which prosecutes less serious offences (summary offences) or the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions, which prosecutes more serious offences (indictable offences). Other agencies are also empowered to initiate prosecutions and are therefore also prosecutorial bodies, for example the Environment Protection Authority, under the Environment Protection Act 2017 (Vic), and WorkSafe Victoria, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) and other occupational health and safety laws and workers compensation laws.


A lawyer who appears in court on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions

Prospective juror

A person who has been summoned to attend for jury service, but not yet selected for a jury.


The principal registrar and chief administrative officer of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Sentencing hearing

Sometimes referred to as a plea hearing. Matters relevant to imposing sentence, including matters personal to the accused and the victim impact statement, are presented to the judge.

Standard of proof

The degree of certainty required to prove something.

Sub judice

A Latin term meaning ‘before a judge’. A matter that is still being considered by a court and is not yet decided.

Summary offences

Less serious offences heard by a magistrate without a jury.

Summary trial

A trial involving a judge or magistrate as the sole fact finder. Can also be described as a trial being heard ‘summarily’, that is without a jury.

Superior court

A higher court of record or general jurisdiction. The High Court of Australia, and the Supreme Court of Victoria are both superior courts with inherent jurisdiction.


A person who has suffered harm as a direct result of the action

of the offender and includes a parent of a child victim, or a family member of a homicide victim. It 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.

Victim of family violence

A person who has experienced family violence.

Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT)

The tribunal established under the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 (Vic) to provide financial assistance to victims of violent crime committed in Victoria. It works through the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)

The tribunal established under the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 (Vic) that hears civil and administrative legal cases in the State of Victoria.