If you are facing criminal charges it is important to obtain clear, forthright advice from a competent criminal lawyer. We will explain the criminal court process, give you realistic expectations, and provide you with the tools and best representation possible to deal with the charges. We can represent you in the Local Court, District Court, and Supreme Court for a range of criminal and traffic matters including:
- Traffic offences – minor and major
- Drink driving and drug driving offences
- Drug matters, possession, cultivation, dealing
- Sexual assault, indecent assault, resisting arrest
- Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs)
- Arson, robbery, larceny, break and enter, theft, malicious damage
- Bail applications
Driving and Traffic Offences
Most drivers have infringed more than one driving or traffic rule, whether it is inadvertently breaking the speed limit, failing to properly stop at a stop sign, or running a red light. This usually results in a fine and a loss of demerit points. Repeat offenders might lose their licence. While a loss of licence can be a serious inconvenience, the courts are often sympathetic to the difficulties that this can create. Depending on the circumstances, if you make a good case, you may be able to retain your licence for at least some purposes (such as driving to work).
Some traffic offences, however, are criminal offences, and the penalties can be more serious than a fine or even the loss of a licence. This is particularly the case with dangerous driving offences and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (especially if someone was hurt as a result). In that case, you can expect the offences to appear on your criminal record, and you may face large fines, loss of licence and/or a period of imprisonment. If you have been charged with a serious traffic offence, you should seek urgent legal advice and, if possible, speak to us before you make any statement to the police.
Apprehended Violence Orders
An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is a civil matter and does not result in a criminal record. However, breaching one of these orders is a criminal offence. If an AVO has been issued against you, it is important to follow the rules outlined in it. If you breach the terms of an AVO, the police may arrest you and charge you with an offence. If you are convicted, you may be imprisoned, fined, or put on a good behaviour bond. You may also end up with a criminal record.
You can be convicted of breaching the AVO if you knowingly do something that the AVO prohibits you from doing. However, you will not be convicted if you can prove that you were not served with the AVO and you were not in court when the order was made. You will also not be convicted if the reason you breached the AVO was because you were following an order of the court by attending mediation with the person named in the AVO or a Property Recovery Order.
The Criminal Justice System
The criminal law in New South Wales is designed to protect the community, and to punish those who commit serious crimes. However, the system is far from perfect. Some people who are charged with crimes are not guilty, and even those who have committed the acts as charged often have circumstances which reduce their culpability. Fortunately, in Australia the law recognises the seriousness of the consequences to those charged with criminal offences, and there are protections which your solicitor can help you to access.
For instance, if you are charged with a criminal offence in Australia, it is up to the prosecution to prove the elements of the crime. They must prove those “beyond a reasonable doubt”, which means that they must be able to convince the jury or judge that there is no real doubt that things happened as they say it did.
For instance, in NSW you can be charged with common assault under section 61 of the Crimes Act. The common law defines the elements of an assault as:
- the threat of force or use of force
- applied intentionally or recklessly
- without the victim’s consent
- without lawful excuse
The job of a defence solicitor is to force the prosecution to prove every element of the crime, and to help the court to understand the circumstances of the person who has been charged.