People charged with an indictable offence will always appear first in the Magistrates Court.
In the case of an indictable offence the formal charge is contained in an information which is filed in court. Unlike summary offences there is generally no time limit within which to charge a person with an indictable offence. However, where there has been an extraordinary delay it may be possible to defend a matter on this basis alone, although this is a complex area of law and legal advice should be sought.
A person may be arrested without a warrant and then, subject to special provisions of the law allowing a delay, must be taken to a police station in as short a time as reasonably possible to be formally charged with the offence. She or he may be granted bail by the police (police bail). If granted police bail, she or he will not receive a summons but will be required to go to court for the first appearance on the day set out in the bail papers and on every other time that the case may then be before the Court. If refused police bail she or he must be taken before the court as soon as possible, where she or he may again apply for bail (court bail), see Bail.
A person may not be arrested but be spoken to by the police and a report made. If the police later decide to lay a charge she or he would then receive a summons to appear in a particular court at a time and on a date stated in the summons. This is most likely to happen with a person who the police believe will not try to avoid the first court date.
A further option is that a warrant may be issued. This allows any police officer to arrest the person named in the warrant and take her or him to court. This step is usually taken when the person's address is not then known and any police officer coming upon the person must have the power to arrest. Another situation in which a warrant is issued is when a person has not come to court in answer to their bail or in answer to a summons.
[See generally Summary Procedure Act 1921 (SA) s 103].
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