Have you been charged with a criminal or traffic offence and need representation in Court? Have you been handed a penalty or been found guilty of an offence and wish to appeal? Navigating the criminal justice system and court processes can be daunting but you do not have to face it alone. The outcome of your criminal law matter could be life-changing, so it is important to give yourself the best possible chance by retaining an experienced criminal defence lawyer to represent you.
We can help with:
- Traffic and vehicle offences including drink driving, dangerous driving and driving under the influence; and
- Criminal offences including drug matters, assault, murder, fraud, theft, arson, sexual assault, robbery, domestic violence orders, tax offences, malicious damage, public order offences, Centrelink offences, bail applications, trials, appeals and defended hearings.
Going to Court
Criminal law is distinct from other areas of law because the risks are so high – you can lose your liberty for life if you are found guilty of some criminal offences. To help make the criminal justice system in Australia fairer, defendants have certain protections, particularly the presumption of innocence. Someone accused of a crime is assumed to be innocent, and the legal system places the onus on the prosecution to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Because the prosecution must prove every element beyond reasonable doubt, you only need to break the case at one point.
At the court hearing, you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. We will guide you on the best course of action based on the circumstances of your case and can work with you to decide which of the elements you might admit (if relevant) and which you will deny.
If you plead not guilty, a trial will be conducted to determine your guilt or innocence.
If you plead guilty or are found guilty, the Court will proceed to sentencing which may involve fines, community service, probation, or imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offence and other relevant factors.
In deciding what is an appropriate sentence, a court considers ‘aggravating’ and ‘mitigating’ circumstances to guide the judge or magistrate. This usually involves putting a case (submissions) to the court and providing supporting material such as character references; details of your work history, family circumstances and community involvement; your criminal history; and any medical or other issues that may have been relevant to the offence.
When you are arrested and charged with an offence, you may need to apply for bail to be released before your matter goes to trial. Bail is the system that allows someone to remain in the community while awaiting trial. It is essentially a promise by the accused person to return to Court on a scheduled day. To back up this promise, a ‘surety’ may be required, which is money held by the court that is forfeited if the accused does not appear in Court. Conditions may also be imposed on a grant of bail, for example, the accused may need to report regularly to a police station, reside at a specific location, or be forbidden to associate with certain people.
Whether bail is granted depends on how a Court views the risk that the accused will:
- not attend Court
- commit further offences
- endanger another person
- interfere with witnesses
Domestic Violence Orders and Breaches
A Queensland Court can make an order called a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) to stop threats or acts of domestic violence. The order sets out rules for how the respondent must behave, such as staying away from the victim and their home or not contacting the victim.
A DVO is a civil matter. Accordingly, it is not necessary to prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that there were threats or acts of domestic violence and someone who is at risk can take out a DVO with limited evidence. Because the standard to obtain a DVO is relatively low, it is important to ensure that the respondent is not unfairly treated. To ensure this, a DVO does not create a criminal record. However, if the DVO is breached, it becomes a criminal matter.
An order is breached if any of the conditions listed in it are contravened. The penalties for breaching a DVO vary depending on the severity of the breach and whether the respondent has a history of domestic violence. The breach may result in fines, imprisonment, or both. Breaching a DVO will usually result in the respondent being arrested and they may incur a criminal record.
If you are facing having a DVO made against you, or you feel that you may be at risk of breaching an existing DVO, it is important to seek legal advice and support to help you comply with the terms of the order.
We are skilled criminal lawyers in Queensland with years of experience across a range of criminal law matters. Our team will defend your rights and ensure that you receive the strongest representation possible. We regularly appear in all Courts in Queensland and have lawyers available to assist those in police custody or prison. If your case requires a barrister, we can recommend and retain suitable counsel on your behalf.For expert legal advice, contact [email protected] or call 07 4982 4236.