Cairns and Innisfail have both a Magistrates Court and a District Court, but each serve a different purpose in hearing cases and handing down decisions. Here is an easy guide for which court does what.
The Magistrates Court is the first level of Queensland’s court system. Cairns and Innisfail are no exceptions to this. Most cases, including all criminal and most civil, go through this level of the court system before being either dealt with or moved up to a higher court, so it’s likely that if you have to go to court for any given reason you will be starting off here.
The Magistrates Court in Cairns and Innisfail deal with minor offences and civil disputes, like traffic infringements, shoplifting and being disorderly, but also deals with more serious offences relating to drugs, breach of domestic violence orders, burglary or assault. If the offence is quite serious, it is likely the case will be committed to the District Court for sentencing or trial. For civil disputes, the Magistrates Court deals with amounts in dispute of up to $150,000.00.
Sitting a level above the Magistrates Court is the District Court. This is the highest level of court in Innisfail but not Cairns as Cairns also has a Supreme Court. There are far fewer cases that go through this court, but the ones that do are more serious. They deal with criminal offences like armed robbery, serious drug offences, dangerous driving and rape. While every criminal case must first be heard in the Magistrates Court, big civil cases may be heard first in the District Court and these cases deal in disputed amounts between $150,000.00 and $750,000.00. If a decision from the Magistrates Court has been appealed, it will be also be heard in this court.