Students are required to visit any Magistrates’ Court in Victoria and observe at least 3 criminal cases being heard by the court. Your Report is to discuss the following:
1. Name, address of Magistrates’ Court and date of court visit.
2. The role and function of the Magistrates’ Court.
3. Draw a diagram of the court- include labels for the following features and participants and describe their function:
a. Magistrate b. The bench clerk; c. Defence; d. Prosecution; e. Witness; f. Defendant.
In relation to EACH of the 3 cases you observed explain the following:
Facts of the case-
Court procedure- What evidence did the Police Prosecutor produce in support of their case? Did the Defence raise any defences? Were any witnesses called to give evidence? What were the stages of questioning?
Outcome of the case- was the defendant found guilty? If yes, what sentence was imposed by the Magistrate and what factors were taken into account when sentencing the defendant.
5.Identify the i) 5 principles of sentencing and ii) 5 purposes of sentencing.
6. Select one of the three cases in your answer to question 4 and explain how each of the purposes of sentencing was applied in that particular case by the Magistrate.
7. Select one of the three cases in your answer to question 4 that involved a plea. Now explain what the defendant’s legal representative raised (or could have raised), including in mitigation, to address the purposes of sentencing – for example, legal counsel for the defendant Pebbles advised the court that her reckless driving had killed her only child, that she could also no longer have children, she was now in counselling for depression since the accident, her husband of 22 years had instigated divorce proceedings and so she had arguably already suffered significant consequences/punishments for her actions already. Be very clear in your answer whether your point was actually raised by the defendant’s legal counsel OR you are suggesting something that realistically could have been raised AND if it is the latter, that is your idea, ensure it has some merit (as courts/Magistrates frown on frivolous, time wasting issues being raised before them).
8. “The Magistrates’ Court’s objective is to provide an efficient, modern and responsive court to meet the needs of the community”. Discuss this statement with regard to the strengths and weaknesses of the Magistrates Court and what you actually observed on your court visit.