FAQs – HOW THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IS IMPACTING NSW CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS
We’ve been getting lots of questions recently about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting criminal proceedings. While the situation is ever-evolving, below are some of the most frequently asked questions.
This information is current as at 02 April 2020.
One of my bail conditions requires me to report to police. Do I still have to do this?
Pursuant to the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020, which is now in force, “undertaking any legal obligations” is a reasonable excuse to leave your place of residence.
This means you must continue to comply with the conditions of your bail, including reporting to police.
Can I still apply to vary my bail conditions?
If you are currently on bail and would like to vary your bail you can apply for a review of your bail conditions. This application needs to be made in writing to the Prosecutor and then communicated to the Court via email. The application must include the reasons the variation is sought.
Does the prohibition on more than two people gathering in a public place include Courts and Tribunals?
No. Attending Courts and Tribunals is an exception to this rule.
Despite this, all Courts and Tribunals have introduced measures to limit physical appearances in an attempt to minimise the spread of COVID-19. If you are required to attend a Court or Tribunal in the coming weeks you should check whether you are still required to appear in person. Your matter might be able to be dealt with electronically instead.
I have received a notice to attend the Local Court. What should I do?
If you have been charged by police you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Our lawyers are available for appointments via phone, Zoom or FaceTime.
Our lawyers will be able to talk you through the process, including how the temporary changes the Local Court has made will affect your case.
I missed my first Court date. What happens now?
Your matter will have been adjourned for at least one month. The Court will notify you that if they do not hear from you prior to the next Court date, the matter may be dealt with in your absence.
I have been served with an AVO. Can I still apply to have some of the conditions varied?
Yes, but only if the application is considered by the Court to be urgent.
If you have been served with an AVO and want to vary any of the conditions, you should contact the Court outlining the nature of the application and reasons why it is urgent.
If a magistrate determines that the application is urgent, advice will be provided to the parties by email regarding arrangements for the Court to deal with the application. The application may be dealt with by way of written submissions if the parties consent to doing so.
I am supposed to be a police witness in an upcoming Local Court case. Will this still go ahead?
The Local Court has deferred all defended hearings which were listed between 23 March and 01 May 2020. The Court will undertake a further review in late April and has indicated that it might be necessary to defer the listing of defended hearings again. The Officer in Charge should advise you when the matter has been relisted for hearing.
What about District Court trials?
In the District Court, all new jury trials have been temporarily suspended. If the trial is proceeding by way of Judge alone, it will likely proceed by way of a Virtual Courtroom, which means that you will give evidence via telephone or AVL.
When will the Courts return to normal?
Unfortunately we cannot predict how long the current COVID-19 outbreak will affect the daily operation of NSW Courts. While we understand you may want your matter to be dealt with as quickly as possible, the ability of the Courts to hear and determine matters at the moment presents unprecedented challenges.
Where can I find out more?
Click on the links below to find out more:
Even though the Courts have slowed down temporarily, we’re still here for you. If you have any concerns about the changes to NSW Court procedures or your upcoming matter, call us on (02) 9696 1361 to make an appointment to speak to one of our lawyers via phone, Zoom or FaceTime.