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Criminal & traffic law

The lead-up to the trial: Pre-trial processes

Case reviews

Usually case reviews will be dealt with by the court registrar, rather than a judge.

For all charges where you could be sent to jail for the offence (Category 2 and above), the court will carry out a “case review” of the charge before the case goes to a trial, to look at whether the charge can be resolved without the need for a trial. Category 1 cases don’t have a case review unless a judge orders one. This process is called “case monitoring’ if there’s a guilty plea.

See “Four offence categories” at the start of this chapter for explanation of each category.

Note: Category 1 cases can also be dealt with without the defendant being present. So it’s important that you go to court if you want to be heard in response to the charge.

Date for the case review

Criminal Procedure Rules 2012, rule 4.2

For charges that are to be heard by a judge alone, without a jury, the case review will take place 30 working days after you plead not guilty.

For Category 3 offences (offences carrying a jail term of two years or more), you have the right to choose a jury trial. If you do so, the case review takes place 45 working days after the not guilty plea.

What is a Case Management Memorandum?

Criminal Procedure Act 2011, s 55(2); Criminal Procedure Rules 2012, rule 4.6

Before the case review, the defendant and the prosecutor must jointly file a Case Management Memorandum with the court. This document tells the court all the details that relate to the case and what the issues will be at the trial.

The Case Management Memorandum must be filed at least five working days before the case review date.

There are certain issues that the defence and prosecution should discuss before filing the Memorandum, so that these can be covered in the Memorandum if necessary.

Criminal Procedure Act 2011, ss 55(1), 56

Some of the matters to be considered include:

  • whether you would like the judge to tell you what sentence you would receive if you pleaded guilty (a sentence indication)
  • whether you would consider pleading guilty to a less serious or different charge
  • whether the parties agree on any of the evidence that’s to be given in court, which might mean that a witness does not have to come to court or that the trial will be shorter
  • whether you object to any of the evidence the prosecutor wants to present at the trial
  • whether the parties agree on how long the trial will take, and on a date for the trial.

    Note: The issues to be discussed and dealt with in a Case Management Memorandum are set out on the form for the Memorandum, which can be downloaded from the Ministry of Justice website, www.justice.govt.nz

What happens at a case review?

A case review may or may not involve a hearing before a judge. The court registrar decides based on what’s laid out in the Case Management Memorandum whether a hearing before a judge is necessary. Usually it won’t be necessary.

Case review by Registrar

The registrar usually deals with the case review on the papers without a hearing. But if there is something in the Memorandum that requires a judge’s attention – for example, if you ask for a sentence indication (what sentence you might get if you plead guilty), there will be a hearing.

If the registrar decides a case review hearing before a judge isn’t necessary, you must appear in front of the registrar on the case review date. The registrar will put off (“adjourn”) the case until the trial date if it’s a judge-alone trial or until the jury trial “callover” if it’s a jury trial. “Callover” is a pre-trial appearance before a judge to deal with process matters and make sure the case is ready to go to trial.

Case Review before a judge

If there is a case review hearing before a judge, the judge will have read the Case Management Memorandum and may assess the strengths and weaknesses of the case and whether there is room for negotiation between you and the prosecutor. For example:

  • the prosecutor may agree that the charges are too serious for what you actually did
  • you may agree that you have no answer (“no defence”) to the prosecutor’s evidence and plead guilty
  • taking into account what you have said, the prosecutor may decide the summary of facts should be changed to more accurately reflect what happened
  • the judge may give an indication of what sentence would be imposed if you were to change their plea to guilty.

What happens if I decide to plead guilty?

If you plead guilty at an early stage, the judge is required to give you a reduction in sentence. The closer in time you get to trial, the smaller that reduction will be. The case review will usually be the last opportunity for you to get a reduction in sentence for a plea of guilty, and the judge is likely to tell you this.

If, based on the case review, you decide to change your plea to guilty, the judge may either sentence you at the case review or set a future date for sentencing (see “Sentencing” in this chapter).

Can a complainant attend a case review hearing?

Yes. The person who made the complaint against you (“the complainant”) can attend the case review hearing, if one is held, and will be invited to speak to the court if they wish. More commonly, where appropriate, a victim impact statement (see Victims – Victim Impact Statements below) will be prepared for the court and the judge will be given this in advance of the hearing.

Next Section | Jury trial callovers

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The criminal courts

Where to go for more support

Community Law

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Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

“Lag Law: Your rights inside prison and on release”

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Ministry of Justice

www.justice.govt.nz/about/publication-finder/

The Ministry of Justice website has a range of pamphlets and other information on topics covered in this chapter. You can access this information online, or you can order hardcopies of the pamphlets from:

Phone: 0800 587 847
Email: publications@justice.govt.nz

Fines

Ministry of Justice Collections Unit – www.justice.govt.nz/fines

Phone: 0800 4 FINES (0800 434 637)
From overseas: +64 4 915 8586
From Australia: 1800 144 239 (toll free)

You can check or pay your fines by phone or online. The website has information about both infringement fines and court-imposed fines, and about reparations. The website also has information about District Court Collections Units.

Department of Internal Affairs – www.passports.govt.nz/what-you-need-to-renew-or-apply-for-a-passport/before-you-travel/

This webpage has information about paying your fines to avoid being stopped at the border.

Phone: 0800 PAYORSTAY (0800 729 677)

“Giving evidence” (Law Society pamphlet)

www.lawsociety.org.nz/about-us/about-our-publications/law-awareness-brochures

This pamphlet is for people who have to give evidence in court as a witness.

You can order hardcopies from the New Zealand Law Society:

Phone: (04) 472 7837
Email: pamphlets@lawsociety.org.nz

Department of Corrections

www.corrections.govt.nz

This website has information:

for offenders

for family and friends of offenders

about the Department of Corrections’ role in the community, including community work, supervision, home detention, and the role of probation officers

about the New Zealand Parole Board.

Victim Notification Register

www.corrections.govt.nz/information_for_victims/victim_notification_register

This page on the Department of Corrections website has information about the victim notification register including, the process, how to apply, information victims can receive and how to make a complaint.

Restorative Practices Aotearoa

www.restorativejusticeaotearoa.org.nz

This website provides information on when Restorative Justice may be appropriate, and where in New Zealand Restorative Justice is available. You can also make an enquiry about Restorative Justice by filling out a form on their website.

Phone: 0800 RJA INC (0800 752 462)

Victim Support

www.victimsupport.org.nz

Victim Support provides 24-hour support services to help New Zealanders rebuild their lives following a trauma or crisis.

Phone: 0800 842 846
Email: nationaloffice@victimsupport.org.nz

Victims Information

www.victimsinfo.govt.nz

This is the website of the government’s “Victims Centre”. The site provides links to a range of services available to help victims deal with the practical and emotional effects of the crime, at each stage of the criminal and youth justice process.

Phone: 0800 650 654

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