Prepare for court

Why this is important

Even if you have been to court before, following these six steps can help you feel more prepared.

What to do

Step 1. Get legal advice

The legal system is complex. Being charged with a crime can have ongoing impacts on your life. 

A lawyer works for you and will help you navigate and understand the system to ensure that your rights are protected. 

Find out how to get legal advice.

Step 2. Get a support worker

Support workers can help you with support needs connected to your court case.

Find out how to get a support worker.

Step 3. Get reports for court

Having information about your medical history helps lawyers and judicial officers understand your capacity and support needs. Importantly, it helps protect your rights and ensure you are treated fairly in the criminal justice system.

A lawyer can help you get specialist reports. Read Get legal advice for more information about lawyers.

You should speak to your lawyer about whether a report will help your case.

You can help your lawyer by collecting any old reports that you might have. People or places that might have old reports include:

  • your treating doctor or General Practitioner (GP) – can provide copies to you on your request
  • health service or hospital records – can provide records following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request
  • previous lawyers – you can ask the previous lawyer to release the report to your new lawyer or directly to you.

New reports can be expensive. VLA can sometimes provide funding for reports. Speak to a lawyer about what funding is available. You can also find out more about VLA's funding guidelines.

You can also ask your doctor, support worker, counsellor or psychologist if they will provide a free report for court.

Step 4. Get support letters for the court

It is recommended that support workers and friends, family and carers to write a letter to the court in support of a person with disability. This will help the court take the person's support needs into account and potentially help their sentence and outcomes.

Read guidance on writing a support letter.

Step 5. Check your court listing date

Each court has its own way of searching for court dates. Most court lists are available for the public to see.

If you are going to the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria

If you are going to the Children’s Court of Victoria

  • Call (03) 8638 3300 to check court listing dates
  • Court dates for matters in the Children’s Court are not published online for public access

If you are going to the County Court of Victoria

Step 6. Get help at court

Court can be an overwhelming place. It is usually busy and confusing.

There are people and organisations at court to help you.

Find out more about your day at court.


Supporting Justice

Supporting Justice © Centre for Innovative Justice, RMIT University, 2019

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