The existing court process for sexual violence cases
The District Courts or the High Court
3.15Charges for all criminal proceedings are filed in the relevant District Court, with the subsequent ability to transfer the case to the High Court if necessary.
3.16Category 3 offences are generally tried at District Court level, unless a judge orders that they be transferred to the High Court. As such, most charges of sexual violence are filed and heard in the District Courts. However, charges of sexual violence can be transferred to the High Court if:
- an application for transfer is made by either of the parties and the application is granted by a High Court judge;
- the charges are to be heard together with charges that must be heard in the High Court, in which case all the charges will be heard in the High Court; and
- the case includes charges for an offence listed on the “court of trial” protocol. The protocol identifies offences and classes of cases that must always be considered for transfer to the High Court in accordance with section 66 of the CPA 2011. Offences of sexual violence involving two or more complainants, for example, are on the court of trial protocol. A High Court judge must determine whether or not to transfer the offence and make an order accordingly.
3.17In 2014/15, the District Courts heard 429 trials involving sexual violence, while the High Court heard 22 trials involving sexual violence.