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When charged with a criminal offence, the first thing you should consider doing is seeking legal advice.

You should consult a lawyer as soon as you become aware that you are being, or may be, charged with an offence (usually when you are arrested).

Before you are formally charged with an offence, you may be requested to participate in a Video Record of Interview with the police. You are entitled to seek legal advice prior to participating in the Video Record of Interview and it is recommended that you do so, as it may not always be preferable for you to answer questions put to you by the police in that Video Record of Interview.

If you are charged with an offence, you will ultimately need to consider whether you intend to plead guilty or not guilty to that offence. It is again recommended that you consult a lawyer in relation to this decision and, in particular, obtain advice regarding the strength of the prosecution case against you.

Below are some relevant considerations in relation to any plea:

  • Presumption of Innocence

Under law, you are presumed to be innocent. This means that the prosecutor must prove, to the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, that you have committed the offence with which you were charged.

  • Strength of the Prosecution Case

Is there not enough evidence? If the prosecution do not have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the offence you have been charged with, then you will be found not guilty. It is always beneficial to obtain advice regarding the strength of the evidence against you. We can assist you in obtaining that evidence and providing you with advice in relation to it.

  • Discount for early plea of guilty.

The earlier you plead guilty, the larger the potential discount on the sentence the court will impose. This is because you have accepted your actions and co-operated with the prosecution.

  • Do you have a defence?

There are numerous defences that may be relevant to defend the charges against you. Examples include:

  • Self defence;
  • Accident;
  • Emergency; and
  • Insanity.
  • Is there a technical defence?

At times it may be possible for the charges to be dropped, due to a ‘technical defence’. The entire charge may be dropped or evidence which may be critical to the prosecution’s case. Examples of these technical defences:

  • Admissibility of evidence. The evidence may not be admissible under the Evidence Act and will not be able to be used in Court. If the evidence is critical to the case the State’s case may fail.
  • Charges too late: Time limits apply to some charges. If they are too late the case may be thrown out of court.

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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