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Criminal Law

Criminal Law, Infringements & Driving Offences

At YourLawyer we provide representation in non-violent criminal offences including, but not limited to: driving and traffic offences, infringement warrants, drug offences, property offences, council offences, dishonesty and deception matters and children’s court matters.  

We seek to provide comprehensive, compassionate, fair legal advice and representation to our clients. We understand that matters are unique in their own way and treat them accordingly. We appreciate that the prospects of facing the criminal justice system can be extremely daunting and are able to guide you through the process from start to finish in a caring, professional and dignified manner. 

Pleading Guilty or Not Guilty?

We can advise you on the elements of an offence and any possible defences that are relevant to your particular situation to allow you to make an informed decision as to whether you will plead guilty or not guilty. 

If you agree that the charges are correct and you have broken the law we can represent you when pleading guilty. When pleading guilty the Magistrate will often see this as a sign that you are taking responsibility for your actions, co-operating and not wasting valuable court resources, often resulting in a less severe penalty. On your behalf we will negotiate with prosecutions to have possible charges reduced and/or dropped and can outline any relevant mitigating factors to help reduce any possible sentences. 

If you do not agree with the charges and believe that you have not broken the law we can assist you throughout this process. We can advise as to the issues and possible defences relevant to your matter and, when required, brief experienced criminal law barristers to appear on your behalf for contested hearings.

Driving Offences

Driving offences are treated extremely seriously in Victoria. Drink driving offences, driving whilst under the influence, driving whilst disqualified and driving whilst suspended are offences that, if found guilty, generally involve losing your license for a period of time, financial penalties, alcohol and road trauma courses or even a term of imprisonment. For these reasons it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice. 

Most common drink driving offences are for people who are charged with driving under the influence or driving while exceeding the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit. 

Generally, there are mandatory license cancellation and disqualification periods depending on the charge and level of your BAC. We can advise you of these and any other possible penalties depending on your circumstances. 

Infringement Warrants

Accumulated e-tag, city-link, traffic or speeding fines? These fines can often be contested, fully discharged or significantly reduced under the Infringements Act depending on your circumstances. 

If you have a mental or intellectual impairment, disease, disorder or illness, a serious addiction to alcohol or drugs or if we can show that given your circumstances imprisonment would be excessive, disproportionate and unduly harsh the Magistrate can reduce these fines by up to two thirds or in some instances can fully discharge these amounts. 

Drug Offences

Drug charges are serious matters and should not be dealt with lightly. From possession of small quantities to trafficking substantial or commercial quantities we can assist you if pleading guilty or in preparing a defence to contest the matter. 

For first time offenders with a ‘small’ or ‘personal’ quantity the diversion program can often be utilised to avoid a criminal record. 

Council Matters

Council matters generally involve family pets. Charges normally involve dogs escaping their premises and/or attacking other animals or people. It is important to note that even if you are not the owner and were only minding the dog you can still be charged with an offence. Most matters often will resolve via diversion or a fine. 

Dishonesty Offences (Theft)

As an indictable offence if you are charged with theft this should be treated seriously. The penalty received will all depend on what has been stolen, the circumstances surrounding the offence and your previous criminal history. We can advise you on possibly avoiding a conviction, if you have a defence and whether you may be eligible for diversion. 

Handling stolen goods occurs when a person knows or believes the goods to be stolen and dishonestly receives them or brings them into Victoria. This offence often arises when property is purchased from someone at a price that is so cheap that it caused you to believe the property was stolen. There is also a lesser charge of dealing with property suspected of being the proceeds of crime, where the police cannot prove you knew or believed the property was stolen, but where there were reasonable grounds to suspect that the property is a proceed of crime. 

It is important to be aware that for dishonesty offences the police may impose a restitution order requiring you to return the property stolen to the victim.  

Property Damage

It is a criminal offence to damage or destroy another’s property, whether purposely or recklessly, unless you have a lawful excuse. Property is defined broadly and can include almost anything that can be brought or owned. These offences can include threats to damage property, graffiti and vandalizing, arson and interfering with property. 

Appeals

A decision made in the Magistrates’ Court can be appealed to a higher court, most commonly the County Court, against the conviction and/or the sentence. An appeal must be lodged within 28 days from the day of the original sentence. If you are outside these 28 days you can seek leave from the court to lodge an appeal. In order to lodge an appeal a notice of appeal is filed with a registrar at any Magistrates’ Court in Victoria and must be served on the respondent, generally the informant in the matter, within 7 days of lodging the appeal. 

Importance of Legal Representation

These particular areas of criminal law can be extremely complicated. It is important to be well advised so that you can make an informed decision and to be represented so that you can achieve the best possible outcome. 

We encourage you to contact us at YourLawyer to receive our expert assistance in order to adequately prepare for your matter. 

Penalties

The 5 most common penalties/sentences imposed in Victorian courts are:

  • Diversion
  • Adjourned undertaking (also known as a good behaviour bond)
  • Fine
  • Community Corrections Order (CCO)
  • Imprisonment

Diversion

For (mainly) first time offences, the Diversion Program is available (with the prosecution’s consent) to avoid a conviction.

The program provides offenders with the opportunity to avoid a criminal record by undertaking conditions that will benefit the offender, victim and the community as a whole. The program operates in all Magistrates’ Courts throughout Victoria. The program provides the following benefits to offenders, victims and the community overall. It ensures that restitution is made to the victim of the offence if appropriate; ensures the victim receives an apology if appropriate; reduces the likelihood of re-offending; assists offenders to avoid an accessible criminal record; assists in the provision of rehabilitation services to the offender; increases the use of community resources to provide counselling and treatment services and assists local community projects with voluntary work and donations.

The charges are adjourned while the Diversion Plan is undertaken. If the conditions are successfully completed, the charges are discharged with no finding of guilt and the outcome is recorded in a similar manner as a caution. The record is not available to the public, including potential employers.