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CRIMINAL LAW

Depositions

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The Depositions is the name given to the preliminary hearing, usually before Justices of the Peace, for an indictable offence in order to determine whether there is a sufficient prima facie case to go before a jury.

Let us explain that mouthful.

In respect of every criminal offence, Parliament has laid down a maximum penalty.

We all know that murder is dealt with by mandatory life imprisonment.

Possession of cannabis is dealt with by up to three months imprisonment.

Theft is dealt with by up to three months imprisonment if the object taken is valued at under $100, up to 12 months imprisonment for a value between $100 and $300, and up to 7 years imprisonment if the value is more than $300.

Similar penalties apply in relation to receiving.

Joy riding a car (car conversion) carries a maximum of 5 years imprisonment.

Cultivation of cannabis - 8 years imprisonment,

Sale of cannabis - 7 years imprisonment,

Threatening to kill - 7 years imprisonment,

Assault on a female - 2 years imprisonment,

Drunk driving causing death - 5 years imprisonment,

Straight drink driving (first or second offence) - 3 months imprisonment.

These are just some examples.

If you are charged with an offence punishable by a maximum of more than 3 months imprisonment (apart from resisting arrest and common assault under the Summary Offences Act 1981) then you are able to elect to be tried by jury if you wish to plead not guilty.

If you wish to plead guilty then you may do so and you are then sentenced by a District Court Judge in the District Court.

But it you wish to defend the case then you can either elect to be dealt with by a District Court Judge alone or to be dealt with by a jury.

If you elect

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