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Types of offences

In New Zealand, there are four different categories of offences. The officer in charge or prosecutor will explain what offence the defendant has been charged with.

You can read more in Offence categories and types of trial [PDF, 323 KB] (Ministry of Justice).

Category 1 offence

Category 1 offences are relatively minor offences, such as careless driving. These offences are punishable by a fine only. Category 1 offences are heard by a judge alone in the District Court.

Category 2 offence

Category 2 offences, such as common assault, have a maximum punishment of up to two years imprisonment or a community based sentence. These offences are usually heard by a judge alone in the District Court.

Category 3 offence

Category 3 offences are more serious offences, like aggravated assault, kidnapping or threatening to kill. These offences are punishable by imprisonment for 2 years or more. Category 3 offences can be heard by a judge alone or, if the defendant chooses, by a judge and jury. They are usually heard in the District Court but can be transferred to the High Court.

Category 4 offence

Category 4 offences, such as murder or manslaughter, are the most serious offences. These offences are punishable by life imprisonment or by imprisonment for 2 years or more. Category 4 offences are heard by a judge and jury in the High Court.

Types of hearings

The hearings you can go to are different depending on the type of offence. Ask the officer in charge or see The court process for more information.

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