If at her or his arraignment the accused pleads not guilty a pre-trial conference (also called a directions hearing) is fixed. The accused is required to attend, as is her or his lawyer. A Judge conducts the hearing to see if the case can be resolved without going to trial. There may be a number of different outcomes:
- the Director of Public Prosecutions (the DPP) may agree to withdraw some charges because the accused will plead guilty to others;
- the DPP may agree to change the charge to a less serious one to which the accused would plead guilty;
- the DPP may be persuaded to reconsider the evidence and/or re-interview some of the prosecution witnesses and decide not to proceed with the prosecution;
- the accused may maintain a plea of not guilty to all charges.
The pre-trial conference may be adjourned if the Judge feels that further negotiations may resolve the case or where additional material is still to be supplied by the DPP. If no agreement is reached at the pre-trial conference the judge sets a trial date. Questions such as which witnesses are to be called by the prosecution, whether there are any legal issues to be decided by a Judge before any evidence is heard by the jury and how long the trial might take are then discussed.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.