Criminal Law

Being charged with a criminal offence is a very serious matter and you should make sure that you have the right lawyers advocating for you in court.

We can help you if you have been charged with the following:

  • Drug offences: Under the NSW Drug and Misuse Trafficking Act 1985 it is an offence to possess, use, produce or supply a drug that has been declared prohibited.
  • Driving Offences: Police are allowed to immediately suspend your licence for a number of serious driving offences. However, imprisonment can also follow in some cases. Serious offences include causing death or grievous bodily harm, reckless driving, speeding in excess of 45 km/h over the speed limit, middle to high range alcohol concentration, or street racing and aggravated burnout.
  • Breach of Bonds and AVOs: A court may reissue a warrant for an offender’s arrest under s98 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. The sentence imposed must not exceed the sentence that is appropriate for the original offence.
  • Assault: Offences include common assault, reckless wounding, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, domestic violence, AVO breach, intent to cause grievous bodily harm, among others.
  • Theft: Offences include break enter and steal, steal from a dwelling, car theft, receiving stolen goods. Usually first time offenders will receive a lower sentence than repeat offenders. Reasons for reduction in a sentence include good character, need for rehabilitation, greater remorse, extra curial punishment.
  • Murder and manslaughter: The maximum charge for a penalty of murder is life imprisonment, and for manslaughter or conspiracy to murder it is 25 years imprisonment. Possible defences include duress, necessity and self defence.

What are your options?

If you plead guilty to the offence or, if there are multiple offences, you plead guilty to some but not all the offences, then your case will usually go straight to sentencing and the court will decide which penalty to impose.

If you plead not guilty, the case will go to hearing where evidence will be examined and witnesses may be called. Less serious criminal charges will be heard and finalised in the Local Court. More serious offences may start in the Local Court for a committal hearing where a magistrate will determine whether there is enough evidence to go to trial, and if there is will progress to either the District or Supreme Court to be heard for trial and/or sentencing.

Usually, to prove that a person is guilty of a crime the standard of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt.

Are you a minor?

For children aged under 14 years, the prosecution must show that the child understood their act was “seriously wrong”. Children under 10 years of age cannot be charged for a criminal offence.

For less serious offences, the Young Offenders Act provides a number of alternatives to arrest including:

  • issuing a warning
  • cautioning the young person in the presence of their parent(s)/guardian(s),
  • referring the young person to a young justice conference at which victims are invited to attend to talk about how the crime has affected them

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, contact Wollongong Legal for an initial consultation to find out your legal rights on (02) 4225 8611

Useful links:

www.courts.lawlink.nsw.gov.au

http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/merit