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Responding to a criminal charge    


Have you been charged with an offence or received a Court Attendance Notice (CAN)? If so you are involved in a criminal matter.

You will have to attend court on the day the case is listed to respond to the charge.

Getting legal advice about your case is a good idea so you can:

  • decide whether you need a lawyer to represent you,

  • get help deciding on whether to plead guilty or not guilty

  • get advice about the penalties that may be imposed by the court in your case.

When you appear at court you will be asked whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty to the offence that you have been charged with.

If you plead guilty, the court will deal with the matters based on the information submitted by the prosecution and any information that you want to provide or say on your behalf.

If you plead not guilty, the court will conduct a hearing where witnesses are called to give evidence about the matter. The judicial officer will then make a determination about whether the evidence proves the defendant is guilty or not guilty.

The law provides the penalties that a court can impose where the defendant pleads guilty or when the court determines a person is guilty of the offence.

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Need legal help?

Call LawAccess NSW for free legal information. Telephone 1300 888 529                 

Defendant or accused?  

Anyone facing a criminal charge in the local or children's court is known as a defendant. Should the charge be referred to a higher court, the person is referred to as the accused.