Types of trials

There are 2 types of trials:

  • judge-alone trials
  • jury trials.

Check your summons or with court staff to identify the category of the crime (the offence) you’ve been charged with.

  • Category 1 or 2 crimes: For less serious crimes, you have no option other than a judge-alone trial. Depending on the nature of the crime (offence), your case will be heard by either by a judge, justice of the peace or community magistrate. There will be no jury.
  • Category 3 crimes: For category 3 crimes (offences), you have a choice of a judge-alone trial but you could choose  to have a jury trial within the District Court.
  • Category 4 crimes: If you are charged with a category 4 crime (offence), you’ll have a jury trial at the High Court.  Members of the public will be summoned to the court to form a jury, to hear the facts of your case. They will then decide if you’re guilty or not.

Find out more about the stages of a jury trial

The different people in the court room

This picture shows the different people who might be in the court room for a criminal case:

  • some of the people are part of the hearing, such as the judge, jury and witness
  • other people are there to watch the hearing or support friends or family. These people might include the media, members of the public, the victim's family/ whānau and your family/whānau.

 Criminal courtroom image

Key to people shown in the picture

  1. Witness or victim – a person who tells the court about what happened or what they know about the case.
  2. Support person – a person who the judge has agreed can support a witness or victim in court.
  3. Court victim advisor – a court staff member who helps the victim understand the court process.
  4. Defendant – the person charged with an offence.
  5. Prosecutor – the Crown lawyer who is trying to prove if the defendant (you) is guilty.
  6. Defence lawyer – your lawyer.
  7. Judge – the person in charge of the court.
  8. Registrar – the person who makes sure court processes are followed, helps the judge and records what happens in court. The Jury/Court Attendant sits alongside the Registrar. The Jury/Court Attendant is a court staff member who looks after the jury and will oversee them when deliberating.
  9. Jury –these 12 people decide if you are guilty or not.
  10. Media – the journalists who report on the case.
  11. Prisoner’s escort – the person who escorts the defendant in court.
  12. Public gallery – this is where members of the public sit, including the victim's and your families and whānau. Victims and witnesses can also sit here after they‘ve given evidence, not before.

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