The County Court of Victoria
The County Court of Victoria hears and determines indictable offence matters. If you have been charged with a criminal offence, please contact our defence specialists at Sher Criminal Lawyers immediately for expert advice and representation.
What is the County Court of Victoria?
The Victorian criminal court system has a hierarchy, and different types of cases can be heard in each court. The County Court deals with all indictable offences, except murder, manslaughter, treason, and indictable offences tried summarily in the Magistrates’ Court.
Before an indictable matter can be tried in the County Court, it must first proceed through committal proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court. During the committal proceedings, the Magistrates’ Court considers whether there is enough evidence to warrant a trial in the higher courts. Please see ‘Committal Stream’ for more information.
Criminal matters in the County Court are heard and finalised by jury trial. That is, the jury delivers a verdict based on the evidence presented in court and the Judge imposes the appropriate penalty if the accused is found guilty. The jury normally consists of 12 people, although sometimes this number may be increased to 15 for long trials. Please see ‘County Court and Supreme Court Procedure’ for more information.
The County Court sits in 12 locations across Melbourne and regional Victoria. The average run time of a trial in the County Court of Victoria is between 10-14 days.
If you have been charged with an offence, please contact our defence specialists at Sher Criminal Lawyers immediately for expert advice and representation.
Matters Heard in the County Court
The County Court hears and determines indictable offences. Indictable offences carry a maximum penalty of more than 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine greater than 240 penalty units for a single charge.
Examples of indictable offences in Victoria include:
- Aggravated assault
- Drug trafficking
- Burglary, robbery and theft
The only indictable offences that cannot be heard in the County Court are murder, manslaughter and treason. These offences are considered too serious to be heard in the County Court and must be tried in the Supreme Court. Some indictable offences can be tried summarily in the Magistrates Court. For more information please see ‘Indictable Offences’.
In some limited circumstances, summary offences may be heard summarily in the County Court. This occurs if:
- The summary offences are related to indictable offences being tried in the County Court (unless the accused and the prosecution agree otherwise);
- The summary offences are unrelated, but the accused is before the County Court for an indictable offence and consents to the trial court hearing and determining the summary offence because they intend to plead guilty to that offence.
In such cases, the County Court determines the summary charge summarily (i.e. in accordance with summary procedure). This means that no jury can be involved in determining the summary charges and the County Court can only impose a sentence that the Magistrates’ Court could have imposed in relation to those charges.
Penalties in the County Court
The County Court interprets sentencing laws and relevant criminal legislation when determining an appropriate sentence in indictable offence matters. The most serious indictable offences in Victoria carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. To learn more about the maximum penalty for any given offence, please see ‘Legal Services’ and choose the relevant page.
How We Can Help You in the County Court
Sher Criminal Lawyers regularly advises and represents clients facing criminal charges in the County Court. Our specialist defence experts are extensively experienced in jury trials and often work alongside Senior and Queens Counsel when running matters before the County Court of Victoria. Further, we forensically analyse each case to create a compelling legal strategy that will result in the best possible outcome for our clients.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, please contact Sher Criminal Lawyers immediately. We are available 24/7 and offer free consultations by way of Zoom, Facetime or in person at our Melbourne and Moorabbin offices.