Frequently asked questions

Why use a specialist criminal law firm?

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Just like anything else, you get what you pay for, and that is especially true in criminal law. Many lawyers have a go at criminal law because it means a new client, but they often have little experience of the processes or even the law that applies.

As a specialist criminal law firm, we only do criminal law, and as a result we do it exceptionally well. We know the law, we know the processes, and we know what it takes to get you the best result. It is this specialist experience that you are paying for, to guarantee the best result each and every time.

What do you offer?

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As part of our standard service to you, we offer comprehensive and accurate advice about your charges, the evidence and the strength of the case against you.

If you’re likely to be sentenced, or want to plead guilty, our strong and persuasive oral advocacy in the court room means you are in the safest possible hands.

We obtain and provide extensive material to the court by referring you to rehabilitation for issues like drugs, alcohol, violence and road safety.

We also arrange consultations, treatment and expert reports through close working relationships with leading experts in psychology and psychiatry — all with the goal of putting you first.

If you’re adamant it just didn’t happen, or didn’t happen the way they say it did, then we’re here to help defend you to the end, no matter what. Our expertise in criminal defence means that every possible legal avenue is explained to you and thoroughly investigated.

What happens at court?

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Depending on what your charge is, your matter could go one of a few different ways.

If it’s a fairly minor offence that you want to plead guilty to, it can usually be dealt with at your first court appearance. If you want us to try and have the charge dropped, then it will usually take a few more court appearances.

If the charge is more serious, or you want to contest it at a trial, it could go on for many months, and up to years, depending on which path you choose to take.

Serious charges that must proceed in the District and Supreme Court typically take about 9-12 months to be finalised for a plea of guilty, and 12-18 months if you want a trial before a jury.

Do I have to attend court?

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Generally, no.

You don’t have to personally attend court if you have a lawyer, unless you’re on a Notice to Appear (NTA), have failed to appear in court, or need to vary your bail conditons. If you are being sentenced or have a trial, you will also need to come to court.

In all other cases, we appear at court for you and take the stress and inconvenience out of having to worry about this.

Do I have to say anything at court?

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Usually you’re not required to speak in court other than to say the words “guilty” or “not guilty” when charges are read to you.

The reason you have a lawyer is so that they can speak on your behalf, and say the things that need to be said to get you the best result. It is this careful skill in advocacy that you are paying for, so there’s no need to worry about having to talk.

If you need to give evidence about what happened, then we will give you that advice and prepare you thoroughly to ensure that everything goes smoothly when the time comes.

What sentences can the court impose?

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The Queensland Penalties and Sentences Act is the starting point when determining sentences. Options available to the court include:

  • absolute discharge
  • drug diversion
  • good behaviour bonds
  • community service
  • fines
  • probation
  • intensive correction orders
  • suspended imprisonment
  • parole
  • actual imprisonment

For Commonwealth offences (e.g. using a carriage service to access/transmit child pornography material, or Centrelink fraud charges) the Crimes Act applies.

The sentencing options are essentially the same, but the most important distinction is that the only offence where no conviction can be recorded is a good behaviour bond under section 19B. This is often a very difficult thing to achieve, and takes a skilled and experienced criminal defence lawyer to get it.

What does this legal lingo mean?

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  • Mention: a review of your matter by a Magistrate at court
  • NTA: notice to appear — a slip of paper given to you by police with details of your charge/s and date you must attend court
  • Adjournment: a further court date has been listed in the future
  • Mention appearance required: a court appearance where you must personally appear
  • Bail undertaking: a document you sign with conditions of bail on it
  • NETO: no evidence to offer (police term for your charge being discontinued)
  • NOLLE: nolle prosequi (DPP term for your charge being discontinued)
  • DPP: Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (who prosecute more serious charges)
  • PPC: Police Prosecutions Corps (who prosecute most Magistrates Court charges)

Will I have a conviction recorded?

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The answer to this question varies depending on what the charge is, whether you have any criminal history, and a range of other factors.

Generally, if it’s a first offence which is not too serious, you can be fairly confident you won’t have a conviction recorded. But it still takes an experienced criminal lawyer to ensure this occurs, as it’s not automatic and it should never be assumed it won’t happen.

Any sentence of imprisonment means an automatic conviction.

Obviously every situation is different and we can give you more specific advice tailored to your circumstances.

Will I have to tell anyone about my conviction?

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If your conviction is not recorded, then it will not show up in a criminal history check and you do not have to tell anyone you have a criminal history.

However, just like most things, there are exceptions. Certain people can see it, including the Government, Blue Card services, and other employers or providers that ask whether or not you’ve been “found guilty or pleaded guilty to an offence”.

In addition, certain countries may ask whether you’ve been “found guilty of an offence”, so you should check before travelling to determine their specific requirements.

If a conviction is recorded, it will show up in a criminal history check for a period of 5 years (in the Magistrates Court) and 10 years (in the District and Supreme Courts). After that time, it automatically expires, provided you haven’t committed any other offences. If the sentence is longer than 2 and a half years jail, then the conviction lasts forever.

What can expect if I go to jail?

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If you’re given a sentence of actual imprisonment, then your sentence starts immediately. You’re taken from the courtroom and into a police watchhouse where you are usually held for a few days. Once transport to a prison is organised, you’ll then be taken out to the prison for processing.

Generally, men are sent to Brisbane Correctional Centre (BCC) and women are sent to the Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre (BWCC). Following your admission, you may be transferred to another prison depending on space, the length of your sentence and your classification.

Caxton Legal have a great guide about prison life which can be found here.

How much do you charge?

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The answer to this question depends on a large number of variables including the type of charge/s, your age, whether you have criminal history, the facts of the case, and what you want to do. If there’s some urgency to your matter, or it’s very complex, then your fees will be higher.

We can give you a specific figure once we know more about your case. Quite often we are able to offer a fixed fee for many types of matters once we know more about you and your charge/s.

Do you do Legal Aid?

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We are not on the Legal Aid preferred supplier panel and will only take clients on a private basis. This is so we can focus on our fee-paying clients and ensure we devote as much time as possible to your case.

Will the media find out about my case?

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Because all courts are generally open to the public, the media are free to come and go as they please – which means they can report on anything they see in court that day. They can’t report details that would identify children, or where a Magistrate or Judge makes a non-publication order.

While we have little control over whether your case will be reported, there are measures we can put in place if you want to protect your privacy. Our policy is not to talk to the media unless you specifically authorise us to.

What does NOLLE mean?

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NOLLE is short for nolle prosequi, a Latin word which means “to be unwilling to pursue”. In the criminal law, it’s a term used by the Prosecution (DPP) to indicate to the court that your charges are being discontinued.

This is always a great outcome and is the end result of skilful and successful negotiations by your lawyer.

It also makes a good licence plate.

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