Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Act defines a summary case conference as a conference between the prosecution and the accused for the purpose of managing the progression of the case. It is a conference between the accused, or preferably their legal representative, and the police prosecutor that occurs behind closed doors to discuss the merits of the criminal or traffic law case. It is an important stage in the process and sets the tone for how the matter moves forward.
A summary case conference only applies to summary offences, not indictable offences. It will usually occur early in proceedings in relation to a matter listed in the summary jurisdiction of the criminal stream. It will usually occur at the mention stage.
You should engage a lawyer that is experienced in criminal law for this type of hearing. If your lawyer is an experienced criminal lawyer, they will likely have dealt with the police prosecutor before which will assist in the negotiation process.
Prior to a summary case conference your lawyer will have read the brief, considered your record of interview, and considered your instructions about the evidence. Your lawyer will then sit down with a police prosecutor and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the case.
The following things can occur at a summary case conference:
- The police agree that the charges should be withdrawn. This is a very successful case conference.
- The police agree that there is merit in considering a withdrawal and the case is adjourned for a further summary case conference.
- The police don’t agree the charges should be withdrawn and the matter moves forward to a further summary case conference, a contest mention, or directly to a contested hearing.
- Both parties can agree that the charges should resolve and on what charges, but the summary of facts needs to be amended to be more favourable to the accused person. At this point, if acceptable to all parties, the matter can be finalised with a plea of guilty.
- The police can be persuaded to recommend the matter for diversion and the matter can then either be dealt with by way of diversion that day or adjourned to be heard as a diversion hearing on a later date.
- The matter relates to an indictable charge and either the accused elects to uplift the matter to the County Court or the prosecutor makes an application to uplift the matter to the County Court, on the basis that the matter is too serious.
Like all things related to criminal law, the finer nuances of how your matter is dealt with at a summary case conference are important and can dramatically change the outcome in your case. If you have to attend court for a summary case conference or a mention, you should call Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers today.