The Australia Legal System

1406 WordsMay 21, 20136 Pages
The Australian Legal System Introduction All countries are a reflection of their histories and this is very much the case with governmental structures and the associated legal system. The Australian legal system is based on a fundamental belief in the rule of law, justice and the independence of the judiciary. All people—Australians and non-Australians alike—are treated equally before the law and safeguards exist to ensure that people are not treated arbitrarily or unfairly by governments or officials. Principles such as procedural fairness, judicial precedent and the separation of powers are fundamental to Australia’s legal system. The common law system, as developed in the United Kingdom, forms the basis of Australian…show more content…
Each state and territory court system operates independently. All states have supreme courts and some also have courts of criminal appeal, which are the highest appellate courts at the state level. Courts known as ‘district’ or ‘county’ courts hear the more serious cases, with a judge presiding over the court to interpret and determine the law. For more serious charges it is usual for a jury (usually of 12 people) to determine the guilt or innocence of defendants. Serious offences such as murder, rape and armed robbery are usually tried in a higher court. Lesser offences are dealt with in lower courts, known as local or magistrates courts (or courts of petty sessions), where magistrates determine the guilt or innocence of defendants. In all cases, defendants are considered to be innocent until proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. There is no death penalty in Australia. Legal aid and representation Australian governments recognize that access to legal representation is an important element in ensuring justice for all. They provide some legal aid for people assessed as being least able to afford to cover the costs of a court appearance. The federal Attorney-General’s Department is responsible for administering funding for the provision of legal aid services for federal law matters through legal aid commissions, administering a Community
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