The law in Victoria states that anyone accused of an offence is innocent until they are proven guilty in court. Always seek legal advice as soon as possible if you’re being charged for a crime.
Facing criminal charges is extremely stressful for any individual, their family and friends. A criminal offence or breaking the law is defined as a crime against the state. Seeking legal advice as soon as you’re charged is vital because you could be sentenced time in prison, given a substantial fine or both. Having an experienced criminal lawyer ensures you’re protecting your best interest by helping mitigate any charges held against you.
How you are Charged
Police usually charge people with criminal offences through:
- Arrest – If you are arrested, you may be held in custody until you can be taken to court where you can apply for bail.
- Notice to Appear – If you’re not held in custody by police, instead you may receive a notice to appear which provides a general description of what you’ve been charged with, when and where you must go to court. Police can issue a notice to appear on the spot.
- Application and Summons – This is a more formal charge in writing which has been sworn on oath before a justice of the peace and served on you. It requires you to appear in the local Magistrates Court a few weeks later.
If you fail to appear in court on the date instructed by your notice to appear or application and summons, the court can issue a warrant for your arrest and you may be charged with the offence failing to appear. In some cases, if you fail to appear, the court may automatically find you guilty and sentence you in your absence so it’s very important to make it on time.
Summary vs Indictable Offences
When it comes to criminal offences, there are two different categories, summary and indictable.
Summary Offences are much less serious than indictable offences. A summary offence could fall under property damage, offensive behaviour or careless driving. These cases are heard in the Magistrates’ Court where the outcome is determined by a judge.
Indictable Offences are more serious crimes such as sexual assault, murder, manslaughter and drug trafficking. Hearings for indictable offences take place in front of a judge and jury at the County or Supreme Courts. In certain cases, indictable offences such as theft or causing serious injury will be heard at the Magistrates’ Court.
Pleading Guilty or Not Guilty
The law in Victoria states that anyone accused of an offence is innocent until they are proven guilty in court. When it comes to pleading guilty, or not guilty, it’s essential to speak to a professional lawyer to discuss your potential outcomes. A criminal lawyer will be able to request the evidence from the police and make a full assessment of the strength of the prosecution case against you.
Why you Need a Dedicated Lawyer
Facing criminal charges can be a complex matter which is why your best option is appointing an experienced lawyer to provide you with expert advice. A dedicated criminal lawyer can help you with:
- legal and moral support during police interviews;
- reduce risks in court by presenting bail and other applications properly; and
- identify the weaknesses in the opposition’s case.
With an experienced lawyer, you can rest assured that they will look after your rights and work to your advantage throughout the course of your court proceedings.
At Le Brun & Associates, we understand facing criminal charges can be a daunting experience. Our expert, criminal lawyers with years of experience are here to provide you with ongoing support and sound advice no matter your circumstances. For a FREE 30-minute phone consultation, contact us today.