What is a Filing Hearing?
A filing hearing is the first Court hearing in the committal process. If you have to attend Court in relation to a filing hearing then you are facing serious criminal charges. These matters are prosecuted by Crown solicitors that represent the OPP, being the Office of Public Prosecutions in relation to State prosecutions or the DPP, being the Department of Public Prosecutions in relation to Commonwealth prosecutions.
What can happen at a filing hearing?
The filing hearing is a good opportunity for your legal representative to discuss your case with the informant (the investigating police officer). It is also a good opportunity to run a bail application, further negotiate the terms of bail, or to prevent you from being placed on bail if you are attending on summons. It is a hearing where your legal representative can ensure that a fair and reasonable time is set down for the receipt of the evidence and address any other preliminary matters that might be raised by the prosecution or the Magistrate.
At the filing hearing, the Magistrate will set two dates. The first date is when the full brief of evidence must be provided to your legal representative. The second date is when you and your legal representative will need to attend Court to discuss how the matter is proceeding with the Magistrate and the prosecution.
Many things can go wrong at this first hearing. If you have to attend a filing hearing, it is important that you engage competent legal representatives who specialise in criminal law. At Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers, we only practice criminal law and we appear at these types of hearings most days of the week. If you have to attend a filing hearing, you should call our office today.
Why am I not attending my local Court?
Not all Courts in Victoria will conduct filing hearings. In the greater Melbourne area, all serious offences that occur in the Frankston, Dandenong, Ringwood, Moorabbin, Sunshine, and Broadmeadows catchment areas that require a filing hearing will be heard in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, located in the Melbourne CBD. These hearings are also listed and heard at the major Magistrates’ Courts in regional areas: Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Bendigo, Mildura, Shepparton, Geelong, Horsham, Latrobe, Wangaratta, Warrnambool, and Wodonga. While there are over 50 Magistrates’ Courts in Victoria, filing hearings can only be heard at one of the 12 Courts listed above.
Time limits following being charged
If you have been bailed to attend Court for a filing hearing, it must be listed within 7 days per section 102 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA). If you have been summonsed to attend Court the hearing must be listed within 28 days per section 102 of the CPA. Please note that if you have to attend the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court for a hearing related to sex-related charges, your matter will be listed on a Friday. Please follow this link for more information on sexual offences and the process regarding sexual offences.
Will I be sent to gaol at the filing hearing?
If you have been remanded to custody and not granted bail by police, the hearing will usually be heard on the day of your remand or at the soonest opportunity. Click this link if you need a lawyer to run a bail application.
If the police released you on bail after issuing the charges at the police station, or you were served a summons and not charged at the police station, it is highly unlikely you will be put in gaol when you attend the filing hearing.
Should I get a lawyer?
Whether you have been bailed or summonsed for a filing hearing, it is a good idea for you to have competent legal representation. Most matters that begin as a filing hearing will at some stage end up in the County Court or the Supreme Court, so it is important to remember that not all lawyers can be considered County Court lawyers or Supreme Court lawyers. If you are facing serious charges, you must choose a firm that routinely represents clients in the County Court or the Supreme Court. Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers is a large criminal law firm that regularly represents clients in these courts.