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Status Hearings

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Status Hearings are a relatively new procedure in our criminal law.

Status Hearings do not apply to cases which are to go before a jury.

Status Hearings apply only to cases which are going to be dealt with on a "not guilty - judge alone" basis in the District Court.

Status Hearings have been in operation from the end of 2000 and many Courts were still finding their feet concerning Status Hearings during 2004. 

Prior to Status Hearings, if you wished to plead not guilty, you might have had a couple of adjournments or remands. Click on to our related topics, including Remands and adjournments, in the related topic boxes at the top and at the bottom of this text.

When you entered a plea of not guilty, before Status Hearings were established, the Court would allocate an actual date for your hearing usually about four to six weeks away.

You would come to Court on that day with your witnesses and a full defended case would be heard with the Police witnesses giving their evidence first and then, if you wanted to call evidence, you would give evidence yourself and then call your witnesses with the right for the Police to cross examine your witnesses and for you to cross examine the Police witnesses.

However, what happens now is that your case is adjourned or remanded to a Status Hearing date where usually about 10 cases are set down at a time.

The Status Hearing is not to determine guilt or innocence but for the Court and the Police and the Defence to explore the strengths and weaknesses of the case and possibly to get a sentencing indication from the Judge.

You are actually able to point out the weaknesses of the Police case to a Judge and if you point out a gaping hole in the Police then the rules relating to Status Hearings mean that the Police are not permitted to "plug the gap" between the Status Hearing and a fully defended hearing.

But you must take particular care in this regard because the law now appears to be that if you point out a gap in the Police case during an informal chat with the Police Prosecutor before the Status Hearing then the Police may be able to move to plug the gap as a result of that informal discussion.

In other words, you must be extremely care the way you approach Status Hearings.

Netlaw believes that the Police might actually benefit from you or your lawyer discussing your case in detail at a Status Hearing and, if the case proceeds to a full

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