DISTRICT AND HIGH COURT PROCEEDINGS
The majority of criminal proceedings in New Zealand are held in the District Court.
In the District Court, a Justice of the Peace or a Community Magistrate, or a District Court Judge could deal with your case, depending on the severity of the penalty that could be imposed.
All Criminal offences in New Zealand are categorised into one of four categories depending on the seriousness of the offence. This category influences how your case will progress through the justice system, including the type of trial, and the court it may be heard in.
Each category of offence is outlined below. The most serious category of offence is category 4:
- A category 1 offence is an offence that is punishable by a fine only, or punishable by a maximum penalty of a community-based sentence. (For example, careless driving). These offences will be heard in the District Court by a Judge or Community Magistrate;
- A category 2 offence is an offence punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of less than 2 years. These offences are generally heard in the District Court by a Judge alone
- A category 3 offence is an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment for life or a maximum term of imprisonment of two or more years, excluding any offence listed in schedule 1 to the Act. These offences are generally heard in the District Court. A subset of category 3 offences, called protocol offences, can be heard in the High Court though. Category 3 offences can be heard by either a Judge alone, or by a Judge and jury; and
- A category 4 offence is an offence listed in Schedule 1 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011. These are the most serious offences, for example, murder or manslaughter. These offences will be heard in the High Court by a Judge and jury.
If you’re aged under 18 years and have been charged with a crime, your proceedings will most likely be dealt with in the Youth Court.Let's chat