Writing a Character Reference for Court

How to write a Character Reference for Court

Character references are a very helpful piece of evidence for a Judge or Magistrate to take into consideration prior to imposing a penalty/sentence. References can include:

  1. Personal character references – from a person who has known the accused for some time and can attest to his previous good character.
  2. Professional character references – from a person who has known the accused in a professional environment, for example as an employer or employee of the accused person.

Continue reading “Writing a Character Reference for Court”

Preparing for Imprisonment

I’m going to jail, what do I need to do?

Preparing for Imprisonment

The reality for many people charged with any offence is that if found guilty they will go to jail. There are a number of things you should do to prepare yourself and your family:

  • Get your affairs in order. Make sure arrangements are made to pay the mortgage or rent before you go in to custody. This may be achieved by discussing your situation with your bank and requesting a period of time where your mortgage is frozen and you are released from any repayments or ensuring there is enough money in the account when payments are due.
  • If you have school aged children who are being made aware of your situation, speak with the school counsellor or someone in a similar role to ensure appropriate arrangements are made.
  • Continue reading “Preparing for Imprisonment”

Pleading Guilty in Court

How to prepare for a plea of guilty at Court

Pleading Guilty in Court

A large part of defence work is negotiating charges our clients face. If we are able to negotiate an acceptable resolution of the charges, your case will be listed for a plea hearing. This general information applies whether you are pleading guilty in the Magistrates’, County or Supreme Court.

It is important to ensure that every effort is made to present your case in the best and most detailed way. The Court will expect evidence to support the submissions made by your lawyer, for example if you instruct your lawyer that you have competed a drug rehabilitation program, the Court will expect to see a report from your treating professionals and evidence of your abstinence from drugs in the form of drug urine analysis results.

Continue reading “Pleading Guilty in Court”

Penalties in Criminal Cases

What sentences can the Court impose?

Penalties in Criminal Cases

The Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) is the legislation that governs criminal penalties.

The maximum penalty for any offence is stated in the law that governs the criminal offence and is most often found in either the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) or the Commonwealth Crimes Act 1914 for federal offences. This page will detail sentences as they apply for state based (Victorian) offences for adult offenders.

Continue reading “Penalties in Criminal Cases”

What is Metadata – Cell Phone Towers and Police Investigations

Metadata is the data you don’t see when you read your email or SMS message or take a phone call. Metadata is the information about the content of an electronic communication, but does not include the content.

Metadata is the data that provides all the details the recipient, the author, the length, the language, the date and time of the message,

but not what the message says.

Continue reading “What is Metadata – Cell Phone Towers and Police Investigations”

Drug Court – Eligibility and procedure

What is Drug Court?

Drug Court – Eligibility and procedure

What is the Drug Court?

The Drug Court is a separate division of the Magistrates’ Court that provides for supervised treatment of offenders who have committed crimes while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or their offending is motivated by their drug or alcohol addiction. The Drug Court currently operates as part of the Melbourne and Dandenong Magistrates’ Courts.  

Continue reading “Drug Court – Eligibility and procedure”

Court Procedure – Summary Hearings in the Magistrates’ Court

What is the procedure in a Summary Case in the Magistrates’ Court

Court Procedure – Summary Hearings in the Magistrates’ Court

The Magistrates’ Court is divided into two streams:

  • Summary Stream – for cases that will begin and end in the Magistrates’ Court
  • Committal Stream – for cases that are more serious and will likely proceed to trial in either the Supreme Court of the County Court.

Continue reading “Court Procedure – Summary Hearings in the Magistrates’ Court”

Court Procedure – Committal Cases

What is the procedure in a Committal Case in the Magistrates’ Court

Court Procedure – Committal Cases

The Magistrates’ Court is divided into two streams:

  • Summary Stream – for cases that will begin and end in the Magistrates’ Court
  • Committal Stream – for cases that are more serious and will likely proceed to trial in either the Supreme Court of the County Court.

Continue reading “Court Procedure – Committal Cases”

Common Defences

Defence to criminal charges

To be guilty of any criminal charge, the prosecution must establish beyond reasonable doubt all of the elements of the offence/s charged. Each crime has a set of elements that the prosecution must establish before criminal liability can be proven.

Even where all the elements of the offence are made out, a person is not guilty of a charge if they can successfully argue they have a defence. Once a defence is raised it is ordinarily a matter for the prosecution to disprove that defence beyond reasonable doubt. For example if a person raises they acted in self defence, the prosecution must establish beyond reasonable doubt that they were not acting in self defence. All defences must be supported by evidence; that is there needs to be some evidentiary basis for the defence to be raised. Some common defences are outlined below.

Continue reading “Common Defences”

Children and Criminal Responsibility

Children and Criminal Responsibility

At what age can a child be held criminally liable for their behaviour?

A child under the age of 10 cannot be prosecuted for a criminal offence – this is known as the doli incapax principle.

If a child is aged between 10 and 14, the doli incapax principle applies on a rebuttable basis. Doli incapax is not a defence but rather an element that the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt where the alleged offender is between 10 and 14 years of age.

Continue reading “Children and Criminal Responsibility”