A lot of people hear the following words and are familiar with them but don’t always know exactly what they mean. These are all important words when dealing with a criminal or traffic law matter:
You will likely already have been given the Apprehension Report or ‘AP’ from the police by the time you come to see us. If not, we can obtain a copy from them easily.
The Apprehension Report is useful to read alongside the complaint or information and summons. It tells us the basic story of what the police say you did. One of the first things we look for in an apprehension report is the identity of the accused to make sure you are the person they say you are. We then look at whether the charges contained in the complaint or information could possibly be ‘made out’ in the Apprehension Report. After that we have a detailed discussion about the allegations contained in the Apprehension Report, look at any defences that may be available to you and find out what your views are on the matter.
At all stages of our representation we will consult you. You will be in charge of the direction your matter goes in. This is important because the decisions you make about your case will affect you for the rest of your life.
When a person is charged with an offence they will be summonsed to appear in court, arrested and released on bail to appear at court or arrested and not released on bail to appear at court.
Bail takes place either at the police station or at a court. You should arrange legal representation hastily if you are going to court to ask for bail from a magistrate. Sometimes the decision by a magistrate to grant bail is a very close call. An experienced criminal lawyer will put forward a convincing case for release on bail.
If you are interviewed by police it is important to speak to a lawyer prior to answering any police questions.
Lawyers are either barristers or solicitors in South Australia. As solicitors we engage a barrister on behalf of our clients when we have a matter going to trial that calls for someone more senior or where we are unavailable. We generally advise clients that we should engage a barrister after a major indictable matter (e.g traffic in commercial quantity of controlled drug) is committed to trial in the District Court. Our practice is to engage a barrister early in the piece so as to ensure that they have plenty of time to think about our client’s case and to ensure that they are available for any future trial date.
Although we are technically barristers and solicitors, we do not practise as barristers. Lawyers who work as barristers are independent and always operate as sole practitioners, not in a firm or a partnership. Barristers do, however often work in chambers with other barristers. This allows them the convenience of shared administrative support, accommodation, and other overheads.
We do appear for our clients in court most of the time and when it is appropriate. For example, we appear as counsel for clients in the Magistrates Court and District Court on pleas of guilty, bail applications, trials, committals, arraignments, directions hearings, sentencing and pre-trial conferences.
This is the work that a defendant does to improve themselves or treat the issues that have led to them offending. It’s generally our advice to seek help as soon as possible for things that are troubling you and leading to offending. Tackling the root cause of someone’s offending not only makes them see their life more clearly and helps them to get to where they want to be, but it also shows the court that they are serious about never committing crime again.
Rehabilitation can be in the form of attending a special court such as a gambling court, or family violence court or it might be done one-on-one with a mental health care practitioner or in a group setting such as in a drug treatment facility.
Summary offences are a category of offences that are less serious such as theft where the value is less than $2500, most driving offences, and offences where the maximum term of imprisonment allowed is 2 years.
Minor Indictable offence
Minor indictable offences are serious offences which can be heard in the Magistrates Court. An example of a minor indictable offence is a serious criminal trespass (burglary) where the value of goods taken was less than $30000.
Major Indictable offence
Major indictable offences are the most serious offences, such as trafficking a commercial quantity of controlled drug, possess child exploitation material, murder, unlawful sexual intercourse, rape etc. This category of offences must be dealt with in the District Court and in some cases the Supreme Court. In certain circumstances they may be finalised in the Magistrates Court. All offences will begin in the Magistrates Court.
A person is reckless when they consider something risky but they do it anyway. An example would be running through a crowded room in a hurry and without much care holding a hot cup of tea. You know that it’s risky and that it might spill onto someone and scald them but you do it anyway. You didn’t mean to scald anyone – it wasn’t intentional.