If a defendant pleads guilty at the committal appearance, the magistrate may either determine and impose a sentence on the defendant, or commit the defendant to a superior court for sentencing [Criminal Procedure Act 1921 (SA) s 110].
If a defendant does not plead guilty, the matter will be adjourned to an answer charge hearing . The DPP is required to prepare a committal brief, which is filed in the Magistrates Court and provided to the defendant (or their lawyer) as soon as possible after filing [s 111(3)]. The committal briefshould contain documents including witness statements, evidentiary material, any statement of the defendant (including any audio visual recording of that statement) and all other relevant material to the charge [s 111(1)]. The committal brief must be filed by the DPP at least 4 weeks' prior to the answer charge hearing [Criminal Procedure Act 1921 (SA) s 111].
Special provisions apply to witness statements which are included in the committal brief, where the witness is illiterate, a child under the age of 14 years, or a person with a disability affecting their ability to give a coherent account of their experiences - see section 111(6) of the Criminal Procedure Act 1921 (SA).
The matter is then adjourned to an answer charge hearing.
In the event negotiations between the parties are occurring at this stage, a defendant is able to request that the matter be called on in the Magistrates Court at any time within 4 weeks' after the committal appearance, for the purpose of entering a guilty plea [s 110(3)]. In this instance, for the purposes of sentencing, the defendant is treated in the same way as if they had pleaded guilty during the actual committal appearance i.e. the same sentencing discounts may apply [s 110(3)].
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