No matter how serious the offence is, the accused person will in general be brought to a Magistrates’ Court to attend the first hearing. If the prosecution needs further time to investigate or seek legal advice, or if the prosecution decides to transfer the case for trial in the District Court or the Court of First Instance of the High Court, then the prosecutor will seek an adjournment (to postpone the hearing). Otherwise, the charge is read to the accused person at the first hearing, who is then asked to plead guilty or not guilty to the offence. If the accused person pleads not guilty, then the case will usually be adjourned to another date for trial.
Upon adjournment of the case, the accused person may apply to the Magistrate for bail. Bail should generally be granted by the Magistrate unless there is substantial ground for believing that the accused will fail to appear at the next scheduled hearing, or commit other offences whilst on bail, or interfere with witnesses or the investigation. The accused person has the right to submit an application for bail on further appearances before the Magistrate if bail was refused at the previous hearing(s). He may also apply to the Court of First Instance of the High Court for bail upon refusal by the Magistrate. For more details on this matter, please refer to Section 9D and Section 9G of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance (Chapter 221).