When the prosecution service has submitted a case to the court, a trial date and time is set for the court to hear the case. When the date has been set, you and any other defendants, as well as the witnesses in the case, will receive a summons to appear at the court hearing.
The court hearing during which the case is heard is also referred to as the trial proceedings. When your case is heard in court, you will normally have a defence counsel with you. Read more about your options for getting a defence counsel.
If you do not have a defence counsel, you will have to examine witnesses in court yourself and give your remarks about the case.
In the district court
In the district court, the hearing begins with the prosecutor’s reading out the indictment listing the charges. The defence counsel will then state whether you plead guilty or not. Next, you will be asked questions – first by the prosecutor and then by your defence counsel.
You do not have a duty to testify or answer questions in court.
When you have finished testifying, the witnesses will be brought into the courtroom – one at a time. Witnesses for the prosecution will first be examined by the prosecutor and then by your defence counsel. Witnesses for the defence will first be examined by your defence counsel and then by the prosecutor.
Any documents with a bearing on the case, such as medical reports or criminal records, are read out by the prosecutor when all witnesses have testified.
Finally, the prosecutor and your defence counsel will make their closing arguments. During the closing arguments, the prosecutor and your defence counsel will begin by addressing the question of guilt – i.e. the arguments for and against your being guilty. In their closing arguments, the prosecutor and your defence counsel will also state the penalty they think you should be given if convicted.
When the closing arguments have been delivered, you will be given the opportunity to make your own remarks.
Subsequently, the judges will leave the courtroom to consider their verdict. During their deliberations, the judges will consider whether you are guilty or not and the punishment to impose if so.
When the judges have finished their deliberations, they will return to the courtroom and deliver their verdict. In guilty plea cases presided over by a single judge, the judge will sometimes deliver the judgment without having left the courtroom. The same applies in fixed penalty cases and cases concerning traffic offences.
Everyone present must rise when a judgment is delivered and read out.
In some cases, the judgment is not delivered until a few days after the court hearing. The judge will announce the time and date of its delivery. Your defence counsel will contact the court to be informed of the outcome.
In the high court
In the high court, the hearing will begin with a reading of the district court’s judgment, after which you will be questioned. The testimony normally begins with a reading of your testimony from the district court, after which the prosecution and defence have the opportunity to ask supplementary questions.
When you have finished testifying, the witnesses will be examined. The testimony normally begins with a reading of the witness’s testimony from the district court, after which the prosecutor and your defence counsel may ask supplementary questions. The witnesses are usually examined first by the prosecutor and then by your defence counsel.
When you and all the witnesses in the case have been examined, and the prosecutor has presented all the other evidence in the case, the prosecutor and your defence counsel will make their closing arguments. You will also be given the opportunity to make your own remarks.
Subsequently, the judges will leave the courtroom to consider their verdict. The judgment is normally delivered during the same hearing. If it is not possible to deliver an immediate judgment, the judge will announce the time and date of its delivery. Your defence counsel will contact the court to be informed of the outcome.
If you plead guilty to the offence with which the police have charged you, the court hearing will proceed slightly differently.
No witnesses will be examined, and any other evidence produced will be very limited. The prosecutor and your defence counsel – if you have one – will not have to address your guilt in their remarks and will instead concentrate on the penalty to be imposed on you.