So far we have been arrested, charged with an offence, have been granted bail, and now your Court date is approaching.
If you haven’t already done so, now is a very good time to get some legal advice. If you are eligible for Legal Aid, there will be a duty lawyer present at Court on the day of your first appearance, however if you are unsure of your eligibility for Legal Aid, it is advisable to make an appointment with a lawyer well in advance of your first Court date. As a general rule of thumb, if you receive a full Centrelink benefit, you are more than likely, eligible for Legal Aid.
Unless you have instructed a lawyer, you should make yourself known to Court staff, and get your name “ticked off”. The Court day can be long, with everyone told to be there at 9.30, but obviously, not everyone can be heard at the same time.
There are times when you may not be prepared to enter a plea, or you need more time to get advice in relation to the charge or charges alleged against you. This is when you would seek an adjournment for typically two weeks.
If an adjournment is not needed and you are ready to enter a plea then the matter can proceed on the first Court date. If it is a plea of guilty, you need to have read and be prepared to accept what is called the “Facts Sheet” from the police. A plea of guilty translates to an acceptance of all those allegations made by the police in the Facts Sheet. After discussions with the police or if they are not agreeable after a disputed facts hearing, you may be able to have the facts altered to be more accurate.
This would arise in the situation such as being charged with assault where the Police version of facts allege that after being punched to the ground, the victim suffered from kicking to his body. It might be the case that you did punch the victim (which constitutes an assault) however you dispute the kicking allegation. Both allegations are assault, but the added kicking incident raises the level of criminality and all else being equal, means a harsher penalty.
In the next topic we’ll discuss what can be said in your favour by your lawyer after entering a plea of guilty in the Local Court.
If you have any questions you would like answered either confidentially or via this medium, please email us firstname.lastname@example.org
This is intended for general information and does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should be sought.