More serious criminal charges are called indictable offences.
Major indictable offences must be heard in the District Court or the Supreme Court. Criminal trials in both these courts are held before a judge and jury, unless the defendant chooses to have a trial by a judge without a jury (this should only be done after taking legal advice). Major indictable offences include offences such as murder, rape, and threatening or endangering life. The Supreme Court must hear a charge of murder or treason and also hears other serious major indictable offences. All other major indictable offences can be heard in the District Court.
Minor indictable offences are heard in the Magistrates Court, where there is no jury, unless the defendant chooses to go to a higher court such as the District or Supreme Court, see Election below.
Multiple charges (major and minor indictable and summary)
Charges of major or minor indictable offences may be joined on the same Information (the document which is the formal written charge) with each other or with summary offences or both, where they arise out of the same set of circumstances or are of a similar character.
The procedure will be that of the most significant offending, for example, if there minor and major indictable offences on the same Information then the minor indictable will be dealt with as per the procedure for the major indictable.
However a superior court may decide to send the summary offences back to the Magistrates Court to be dealt with there.
The Court may also direct that the charges in a single information be dealt with separately in separate proceedings or that charges on separate Informations be dealt with in the same proceedings.
[See generally s 102 Criminal Procedure Act 1921 (SA)].
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