Crime Stats in Victoria

1
Approximate criminal offences per year in Victoria
1
Approximate family incidents per year in Victoria

Have you been charged with an offence or asked to attend an interview?

Criminal law matters have the potential to impact your life forever. Early advice can make a huge difference. The police often question a person having already identified key elements that they want confirmed. It may not be in your interest to give comments and you have the right to make two phone calls (not one like in the movies) – you can call a friend/relative AND your lawyerNot everyone who is charged will have a formal interview. If you have been asked to attend an interview, have been arrested and/or you have received charges, contact us today to find out how we can help you achieve the best outcome – it just might change your life! 

Our services

Assault

There are many charges that fall under the category of assault. Often you will be charged with intentionally cause injury, recklessly cause injury and summary assault, all for the one incident - normally only one of these charges will proceed and it is important that we talk with police without delay - call today to discuss your matter.

Family Violence

Offences of this nature are increasingly before the courts (as seen in the stats above) and often involve an attached intervention order where the police are the Applicant. Early advice is critical, so don't hesitate to call us!

Drug Offences

Certain drug offences result in what is called 'reverse burden of proof' - which means that rather than the prosecution proving you are guilty beyond all reasonable doubt, you need to prove that you did not commit the offence.

Theft

Theft can involve either a small sum of property or a large sum, but either way, it is an indictable offence. This means it is in the higher category of offences and legal advice is very important. These 'dishonesty' type offences can affect other aspects of your life in the future, such as insurances.

Sexual Offences

These matters are also increasingly before the court. Some are historic matters where the alleged incident occurred many years ago, and others are current day matters. Certain sexual offences can also result in the accused being place on the Sex Offence Register upon conviction.

Appeals

Appeals are in the spotlight at the moment with reform on the way. Currently, you can have a complete rehearing from the Magistrates' Court to the County Court. You are not bound by what occurred in the Magistrates' Court and you can change your plea. We have experience in Appeals all the way to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Do you have a matter listed in the Magistrates' Court?

Stage 1 - Mention

All matters begin the Magistrates' Court. Highly serious matters begin as a filing hearing - then move to a Committal Mention - and then to a Committal Hearing, where it is determined whether the Accused will stand trial in a higher court. In 2018/19 over 660,000 criminal hearings took place in Victoria's Magistrates' Court's.
The vast majority of matters (about 90%), begin and end in the Magistrates' Court and the first hearing for these matters is known as a Mention Hearing. At this stage, your matter is first 'mentioned' before the court and you are able to discuss your matter with the prosecution (called case conference). Your matter may resolve on the first day if you are pleading guilty or if the police are withdrawing the charges. If not, your matter may be adjourned for another Mention (e.g, to give you more time to get character references), or, it may be adjourned to a Contest Mention.

Stage 2 - Contest Mention

By the time your matter reaches this stage, it will have already had at least one Mention Hearing and negotiations will already have commenced with the prosecution. The Contest Mention provides the opportunity for further negotiation. It can also result in a Magistrate giving you a sentence indication - that is, telling you what your likely sentence will be if you plead guilty today. The Magistrate may also indicate to the prosecution that their prospects of success are low and that they ought to consider dropping one or more charges. If your matter does not resolve, then it is expected that the prosecution and defence will provide the court with details for the Contested Hearing, such as an estimate of time required, number of witnesses required and their availability etc.

Stage 3 - Contested Hearing

This is likely the final hearing for your case (although you may lodge an appeal) and very few cases make it this far. At the Contested Hearing, evidence is given, witnesses get in the witness box and ultimately, upon hearing the relevant evidence, the Magistrate makes a final decision.

FAQ

There are some questions that you must answer when being interviewed – they include the following:

– Stating your full name and date of birth;

– Whether you want to exercise any of your rights;

– Whether you are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia;

– Whether your are of Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander descent; and

– If relevant, the driver of your car, if your car was used in the commission of an offence. 

A lot of lawyers then advise their client to answer ‘no comment’ to ALL other questions. We generally agree with this approach. The important point is that you must be consistent in saying ‘no comment’. If you give a comment to some questions and not others, a negative inference may be drawn and may be adduced as evidence. On the other hand, giving a total ‘no comment interview’ cannot be used against you in court and does not suggest that you are guilty. 

There are two other options:

1. You can read a prepared statement that can be drafted with your lawyer – in those situations, you stick to reading just the statement. 

2. You can answer questions fully. This can be a risky strategy as although it may seem that the police are asking ‘easy’ questions, the questioning is targeted and if you say something inconsistent, or something damaging, you may not even know until it is too late. In some cases, such as allegations of a sexual nature, it can be a good strategy to state your denial in the interview. This may be heard by the jury if your matter went to trial. However, again, you must be very careful.

Our advice is that you contact us or another experienced criminal lawyer before you answer any questions, as is your right. 

You should call us immediately on 0491 626 283, no matter the date or time.

You should also ask to call a relative or friend. 

You should tell the police your name and date of birth and whether you are of Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander descent. 

If you have been charged by police, then yes, you will need to attend court at some stage.*

If you are on Summons (not bail, you can seek an adjournment of your first court date (known as a Mention Hearing), without needing to go before the Magistrate. 

If you are on bail or your matter has already had its first Mention Hearing, then you will need to attend court. 

*In May 2020, the Magistrate Court released a new Practice Direction in response to COVID-19. Some matters (summary offences only) may be able to be heard ‘on the papers’, without a physical court appearance. Contact us to find out more on 0491 626 283. 

You may be on bail because you were bailed from the police station, or you may be remanded and need to apply for bail in order to be released while your matter is completed. 

If you are bailed at the police station, it means that you must attend court on the next hearing date, and you must also comply with any other conditions listed on your Undertaking of Bail (a document will be provided to you with this title).

If you are kept on remand, you will need to apply for bail. This is a critical step in your matter and you or your family/friends should contact us immediately. 

We charge fixed fees for criminal matters. That means that our fee is fixed up to and including the next court date. Not all matters are the same of course. Some matters are in the Magistrates’ Court, some are in the County Court, some are Appeals etc. The fee will depend on your particular matter. Fixed fee means that you know exactly how much your matter will cost – there will not be any bill shock! Call us today for an estimate on your matter. We service all courts. 

Do you have a court date?

A conviction can result in the loss of your job, reduced job prospects and can even affect travel and insurance. Unlike all other Australian jurisdictions, Victoria does not have a spent convictions scheme and therefore convictions remain on your record for life – legal advice is essential!

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