Unless a defendant charged with a minor indictable offence elects to be tried in the District Court, the case will be dealt with in the Magistrates Court as though it were a summary offence [section 108(1) and section 117(1) Criminal Procedure Act 1921 (SA)].
If an election is made the case is set down for a pre-committal hearing and is dealt with as though it were a major indictable offence. If no election is made the case follows the procedures of the Magistrates Court for summary offences, see Summary Offences
Before deciding whether to elect to have the case dealt with in the District Court or not, the defendant should consider the following factors:
- in the District Court, the decision as to whether the verdict is guilty or not guilty is made by a jury
- the defence may be better able to present its case before a jury, being able to rely on the evidence given in the committal proceedings
- the penalties a magistrate can impose on each charge are lower than those a judge can impose after a jury trial.
This consideration should always be made with the assistance of legal advice.
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