Criminal Law FAQ
Below are some of the more common criminal law FAQ that we get asked. If you have a question that is not listed give us a call or send us a message and we’ll be in touch with the answer shortly.
What should I do if someone I know has been arrested?
If someone you know has been arrested and taken into custody it is essential that you call us as soon as possible so that we can advise them as to their rights in custody, how to conduct themselves when participating in a record of interview, and prepare a bail application if required. Our criminal lawyers are available to advise on urgent matters 24/7 on 1300 616 183.
Should I make a ‘comment’ or ‘no comment’ interview?
If you are participating in a record of interview with police you may make a ‘comment’ or ‘no comment’ interview.
It is important to remember that whatever you say during a record of interview may be used by the police to prove their case against you in court. For this reason we usually advise clients to make a no comment interview. However, whether you should make a comment or no comment interview will depend on a number of factors specific to your case.
You should discuss your situation with an experienced criminal lawyer to ensure that you make the right decision for you.
If you choose to make a no comment interview you must be very careful not to answer any of the questions put to you by police (you simply say, “no comment”). If your answer some questions but not others a jury may be allowed to make inferences based on what you did and did not say, which may harm your defence.
There are some cases in which openly participating in a record of interview can be helpful.
For example, if you intend to plead guilty to the offence if charged, cooperating with police and making admissions will be considered favourably by the court at the time of sentence.
Or, if you have a valid defence to the allegations it can be beneficial to put this on record immediately.
Regardless of what you choose to proceed it always best to discuss your options with an experienced criminal lawyer before participating in a record of interview. How you conduct yourself in a record of interview can have a significant impact on your ability to defend yourself against any charges that result. Speaking to a lawyer is your right and cannot be held against you.
Our lawyers are available to advise you of your options 24/7 on 1300 616 183.
Is it possible to avoid a conviction?
Yes, in many cases it is possible to avoid a conviction being recorded against you.
Diversion – adults
If this is your first offence you may be eligible for placement on a Diversion Plan.
A Diversion Plan provides eligible offenders with an opportunity to avoid having a criminal record. Diversion is increasingly hard to obtain and requires approval by the police, the Diversion Coordinator, and the Magistrate. Having a lawyer advocate on your behalf increases your chance of overcoming the many hurdles to diversion.
Diversion is available for both adults and children.
To discuss your eligibility for diversion call our office on 1300 616 183 or click here to speak with one of our criminal lawyers.
Diversion – children
If you or your child is appearing in the Children’s Court for a first offence you/they may be eligible for participation in the ROPES program. The ROPES Program provides eligible child offenders with an opportunity to avoid having a criminal record by participating in a one day ropes/obstacle course. The program is positively geared and aimed fostering better relations between child offenders and police.
To discuss your/your child’s eligibility for the ROPES Program call our office on 1300 616 183 or click here to request an appointment.
If you are not eligible for diversion or ROPES you may still be able to avoid a conviction being recorded against you. This will depend on what you’ve been charged with and your specific circumstances. To speak to us about your options call our office on 1300 616 183 or click here to book an appointment.
Is my driver’s licence is at risk?
The law in relation to driving offences is complex and the courts have a very wide discretion to suspend your licence or disqualify you from obtaining a licence for a period of time. For more information about licence cancellations and driving offence penalties click here to view our Traffic Law information.
If you are worried about losing your licence call our office on 1300 616 183. We can advise you as to the likelihood that you will lose your licence, additional penalties that may apply, and what you should do in order to achieve the best outcome in your matter.
Can I appeal a court decision?
If you have been found guilty of an offence, or you pleaded guilty but feel the sentence received was excessive, you may appeal the decision to a higher court. You may also appeal if it appears that a technical error has occurred.
If your matter was heard in the Magistrates’ Court your appeal will be heard in the County Court. You do not need the Court’s permission to lodge an appeal as long as you file the necessary paperwork within 28 days of the decision.
If your matter was heard in the County or Supreme Court you must apply to the Court of Appeal for leave (permission) to appeal the decision. This application must be made within 28 days of the decision. If leave is granted your appeal will be then be heard in the Court of Appeal.
Although exceptions are made, the time limits for appealing a decision are strict. It is therefore essential that you contact us to discuss your options as soon as possible.
Do I qualify for legal aid funding?
Victoria Legal Aid has recently tightened the eligibility requirements for funding in criminal law matters. To be eligible for Legal Aid funding you will usually need to be receiving a Centrelink benefit and be facing a likely term of imprisonment if found guilty of the offence charged.
Driving offences cannot be funded by Legal Aid.
However, eligibility for Legal Aid funding is ultimately assessed on a case by case basis. If you would like to discuss your eligibility for Legal Aid funding call our office on 1300 616 183 or click here to book an appointment.
If you are not eligible for Legal Aid funding our lawyers will work with you to ensure that you do not have to go to court unrepresented.
If you have a question that is not listed click here to email your question to our office. One of our lawyers will be in touch shortly.