As a regional general Practice, this firm maintains a ready interest in Criminal Law and we regularly appear at Court on behalf of defendant clients.
This is an area that given the encroachment of the State into our everyday lives, a Summons to a criminal court is no-longer a matter only reserved unto the Felonry but is likely to be brought to many of us or else to someone close to us. The Criminal jurisdiction is therefore a matter about which we should all be somewhat circumspect.
The jurisdiction is principally governed by the Criminal Procedure Act, the Sentencing Act and the Crimes Act. In addition, there is a wide variety of ancillary Acts also with Criminal sanctions, typically: Road Safety Act; Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act; Family Violence Protection Act; Summary Offences Act etc, etc., etc…
All matters are brought before the Magistrate at first instance and the less serious cases usually resolve upon an admission of guilt and a Plea in mitigation to the allegations against the accused. Many of these matters are entirely trivial and involve simple breaches of some Regulation or other.
The more serious cases require the Magistrate' Court to act as a clearing house, so to speak, and to assess whether a matter has sufficient merit to warrant being brought to trial. This process, the Committal, is in the form of a mini trial.
If the accused is to plead Guilty, then in delivering a Plea to the Court, it is necessary to have a good understanding of the process and of the likely sentence so as to properly make submissions to the Magistrate and as to what an appropriate sentence should be.
Much of the work involved necessarily relates to liaising with the Police prosecutors in determining the proper course of the matter and in seeking to arrive at some mutually agreed settlement.
We also appear at or otherwise conduct Appeals on Conviction and/or Sentence in the County and Supreme Courts.
Some useful and interesting articles in relation to the criminal Law appear in the Blog pages of this website.