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Steps in the prosecution process
Serious criminal cases can be before the courts for many months, or even years. It can be a very stressful and uncertain time for victims and other witnesses. So you know what to expect, we describe below the main steps in a criminal prosecution.
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This following information about the prosecution process is also available in a brochure.

Investigation, arrest and bail

If you are a victim or witness in a serious crime, police will ask you to make a statement about what happened as part of their investigation.

Committal process

Nearly all criminal cases start off in the Local Court before a magistrate.

Matter goes to the District or Supreme court

 When a matter goes to the District or Supreme Court the case may be mentioned several times before a Judge, before the accused is tried or sentenced.


Trials in the District and Supreme Courts are before a judge and jury.


If a defendant is convicted in a criminal prosecution, the event that follows is called sentencing. A sentence is the penalty ordered by the court.


The offender has 28 days from a conviction or sentencing to appeal, or let the court know that they are planning to appeal.

Other outcomes

Not all criminal cases will end with a verdict of guilty or not guilty; there are a number of other possible outcomes.

Charges and EAGP

The Early Appropriate Guilty Plea reforms were introduced in NSW in 2018. The reform is designed to encourage early pleas of guilty in criminal cases.