Your day at court

Why this is important

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

There are people and organisations at court to help you.

This page has information on:

  • what to do when you get to court
  • where to find help at court.

It is also recommend to read Victorian Legal Aid's Your day in court guide. 

What to do when you get to court

Step 1. Arrive early and take someone with you

Court can be confusing and take a long time. Having a close friend, family member or worker with you at court is a good idea.

Arrive 30 minutes before the time on your court paperwork.

This is to allow time to go through security and be ready for court to start.

If you are running late, call the court to let them know. The court phone number is on your court paperwork or you can find it on the Magistrates’ Court website.

Step 2. Go through security

Do not bring pocket knives, cutlery, glass containers or sharp objects.

Security will take these items from you if you have them.

If you bring a weapon (including a pocket knife) to court, you will be charged with a criminal offence.

Step 3. Tell the court you’ve arrived

Go to the 'Appearances' counter and tell them:

  • Your name
  • What you want to do at court today:
    • Plead guilty
    • Adjourn to another day
    • Adjourn to contested hearing

If you are not sure, ask to speak to a duty lawyer.

  • If you have a lawyer
  • If you want to speak to a duty lawyer

Step 4. Find your lawyer

Read Get legal advice for more information about how to get a lawyer to help you with your case, and for information about duty lawyers that can help you at court.

Your lawyer will be able to help you understand your legal matter and what is going to happen at court.

It’s a good idea to agree on a place to meet your lawyer before you attend court. If you don’t have a lawyer, ask to speak to the duty lawyer at court.

Show your lawyer the Preparing for court: client form (PDF, 276kb) if you have completed one. 

Step 5. Wait for your matter to be called

After you check in with the registrar at the 'Appearances' counter and speak with your lawyer, you will need to wait for your matter to be called into court.

Depending on the court, you might be waiting in a waiting area or inside the courtroom.

Court can take a long time. Expect to be at court all day. Do not book other appointments on the same day as court. Organise for someone else to look after children or pets if possible.

At Magistrates’ Courts, the clerk in court will announce your name over the speaker system when your matter is ready. When your name is called you will need to immediately go into court with your lawyer.

There is a lunch break between 1pm and 2pm when the court stops hearing matters. This is an opportunity to leave the court building to go and have lunch.

Always ask your lawyer before leaving the court building to make sure that they know where you are if you need to come back. Court usually stops hearing matters by 4pm but can sometimes go longer.

Where to find help at court

Court Network volunteers are available at most courts. They can help you in lots of ways:

  • Help you find your way around the court
  • Support you if you are feeling overwhelmed
  • Show you where to access other support services, including the duty lawyer service
  • Sit with you in court

Court Network volunteers wear pink lanyards. Ask any court staff member to help you find a Court Network volunteer.

If you need an interpreter

The language used in courts is often technical and confusing.

If you would like communication or interpreting assistance, we recommend contacting the court before your hearing to make sure that an interpreter or communication aide is available.

If you need an interpreter to call the court

Call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450.

Tell the TIS operator the phone number of the court you need to contact. The court phone number is on your court paperwork.

An interpreter will call the court and translate to make sure you understand the information you need.

If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment

Call the National Relay Service (NRS):

  • TTY: call 133 677
  • Speak and listen: call 1300 555 727
  • Give the phone number of the court you need to contact

The court phone number is on your court paperwork.

If you have other communication needs

Most courts do not have access to disability communication boards or guides.

If you use one of these tools, bring one with you, or bring a support person to accompany you to court.

Supporting Justice

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

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