In Queensland, all criminal cases start in the Magistrates Court, even if they must ultimately be dealt with in the District or Supreme Courts.


Who hears criminal cases in the Magistrates Court?

The person who hears/decides cases in the Magistrates Court is a Magistrate. If you plead guilty to a criminal offence, it is the Magistrate who will decide on the penalty you receive. Likewise, if you go to trial, it is the Magistrate who will decide if you are guilty, or not guilty of the criminal offence. There are no juries in the Magistrates Court.


What types of offences does the Magistrates Court deal with?


The Magistrates Court deals with a wide variety of offences, including offences such as:


  • Assaults. 
  • Drug offences.
  • Frauds. 
  • Property offences such as burglaries or break and enters of premises.
  • Public nuisances.
  • Shop lifting.
Brisbane Magistrates Court

The above image is a drawing of what the inside of a Queensland Magistrates Courtroom looks like.  You will see there are various positions marked with numbers in circles on the drawing. Each of these positions are explained below.


1 – This is where the Magistrate sits.


2 – This is where a clerk of the court sits. The clerk of the court assists the Magistrate.


3 –  This is the witness stand where witnesses sit when giving evidence in Court.


4 – This is where the prosecutor stands. The police prosecutors usually wear a blue suit with police like badges on it.


5– This is where the defence stand at the bar table. If you have a lawyer representing you, they will stand at this position.


6 – If you have a lawyer representing you, this is where you stand.


7 – This is the dock. If a defendant is in custody, they will sit in the dock during court proceedings.

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