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Common questions that lawyers are asked about criminal cases in Australia

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions that criminal lawyers hear. There are not questions that ask for legal advice (you can only get that from a lawyer who considers your specific circumstances), but they are questions that are commonly asked about the legal system.

I have no criminal record. Will the judge go easy on me?

First offenders have a better chance of leniency than people who have a criminal conviction. Still, penalties depend upon several factors, including the nature and severity of the offence, not just the offender’s record. A lawyer can help you evaluate the case and make the best argument for leniency.

Will my case be dismissed if the victim drops the charges?

Criminal charges are brought by the police and prosecutors on behalf of the government. They are not brought by victims. It is up to the prosecutor, not the alleged victim, to decide whether to drop the charges.

A victim can tell a prosecutor that he or she does not want to cooperate with the prosecution, but victims can be forced to testify in court. It is up to the prosecutor to decide whether a case is worth pursuing against a victim’s wishes.

If the case involves an accusation of assault against a spouse or vulnerable victim, the prosecutor might think the victim has been bullied into asking for dismissal of the charges. That might make the prosecutor more reluctant to dismiss the case. The accused should never pressure an alleged victim to drop charges or to take any other action. Doing that only makes things worse.

Can I avoid a conviction if I tell the judge that I’ll be fired if I’m convicted?

Making an assertion of fact to a judge won’t carry much weight unless you can prove the fact is true. A letter from your employer or a work policy that shows a conviction will result in the loss of employment might satisfy the judge that the consequences of a conviction would be unduly harsh. But it also depends on the circumstance of the offence and whether the judge feels you’ve learned your lesson.

Can I avoid jail for a drink driving charge?

If the charge is a first offence with a relatively low blood alcohol concentration, the answer is probably yes, although other penalties will be assessed. If the charge involves a repeat offence, a high blood alcohol concentration, or driving that caused property damage or an injury, it may be more difficult to avoid a jail sentence.

Every case is different and, contrary to what many people believe, it is often possible to get a drink driving charge dismissed or to win a “not guilty” verdict. It is important to have a lawyer conduct a full evaluation of the evidence before you make any decisions about how to proceed.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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