The court process is kicked off with a document called an information. This is the allegation against you and this document is filed in court and often a defendants copy will be issued which is served on you. It will have the date in the right hand corner when you have to attend at court. The allegation on the information will be under a particular section of a statute. Often it will be the Crimes Act if it is alleged you have committed a crime or it may be under another statute such as the Transport act or the Summary Offences Act. Parliament gives the courts jurisdiction to deal with these informations under the Summary Proceedings Act. The Summary Proceedings Act is the procedural statute which governs the process by which you are initially prosecuted. If the information is laid indictably then the matter must proceed through the indictable process of the District Court which involves firstly a preliminary hearing and then a jury trial. Sometimes a person or the Crown can seek a judge alone trial in the indictable jurisdiction. Indictable charges are more serious as a rule. Summary charges are usually less serious and are dealt with by a judge alone in the summary jurisdiction. Drink drive charges for instance are usually dealt with by a summary judge alone. The government in nz is moving faster and faster to remove the right to jury trial and soon jury trials may be a thing of the past for crimes carrying a maximum penalty of 3 years jail. In fact I think that has already been enacted. This is a cost driven issue. Jury trials are much more deliberate and more expensive than summary trials which can often be fairly shallow in their scope.
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