A Guide to Queensland Courts by Brisbane Criminal Lawyers

To make things a bit easier for you, the Brisbane criminal lawyers at Guest have put together this handy guide to Queensland courts with everything you need to know about them.

Supreme Court

In Queensland, the Supreme Court is the highest court, and is split into the trial division and the Court of Appeal. The trial division deals with the most serious of criminal cases such as murder and serious drug offences. It also handles civil disputes involving amounts greater than $750,000. The other half of the Supreme Court, known as the Court of Appeal, hears all appeals from the trial division and the District Court.


District Court

The District Court in Queensland deals with serious criminal offences, including things like armed robbery, sex offences, fraud and dangerous driving. However, it’s important to know that under Queensland law, all criminal cases must first be brought to the Magistrates Court. Then, more serious criminal offences are committed to the District Court either for trial or for sentencing. As for civil disputes, those involving amounts between $150,000 and $750,000 are handled by the District Court.


Magistrates Court

The Magistrates Court is the first level within Queensland’s court system, and hears about 95% of all cases in some form. When a person is charged with a criminal offence, they must be brought before the Magistrates Court as soon as possible. Here, the Magistrates Court will decide on the seriousness of the case, and commit more serious cases to higher courts such as the District Court or Supreme Court. However, the Magistrates Court will deal with less serious offences such as shoplifting, disorderly behaviour and traffic infringements.

Unlike the District and Supreme Courts, Magistrates Courts hear cases without a jury, and therefore the magistrate makes all decisions in criminal and civil matters. In terms of civil matters, the Magistrates Court hears all cases involving amounts under $150,000. In Queensland, Magistrates Courts can hear cases in approximately 130 locations. You can find your nearest courthouse here.


Specialist Domestic and Family Violence

Located in Southport, a specialist domestic and family violence (DVF) court exists to deal specifically with criminal and civil DVF cases. Beenleigh and Townsville will begin hearing DVF cases in 2017-2018 with Mount Isa and Palm Island opening specialist DVF locations in 2018-2020.



The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) exists to efficiently and inexpensively make decisions on a number of matters. QCAT makes decisions about issues of debt, retail shop leases, residential tenancies, administrative decisions, disputes involving children and a number of other civil disputes. Those who attend QCAT are usually self-represented throughout their hearing, mediation, compulsory conference or hybrid hearing. However, members, adjudicators and mediators may help parties resolve their dispute.


Getting Help from Brisbane Lawyers

The Brisbane lawyers at Guest will act for any person charged with a criminal offence. In addition to representing people all over Queensland, we often travel to other states and territories. Our criminal lawyers are admitted to practice all over Australia. We offer free initial consultations (including in prisons) to assist with a number of criminal matters. Please get in touch with us either by emailing or by calling (07) 3211 3007. Our team of experienced Brisbane lawyers will be more than happy to assist you.