What is a criminal offence?
A criminal offence is a charge carrying severe financial penalties or a period of imprisonment. A criminal charge must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Beyond reasonable doubt means that where doubt exists, the accused is entitled to the benefit of that doubt.
Being arrested and/or charged is a traumatic experience for most. Legalbit deals with all issues related to criminal law, including bail, hearings, appeals and sentencing.
We believe that regular communication with our clients is important and you will always know the status of your case and all the possible outcomes. We are here to help you and if you have questions in relation to your case our criminal lawyers are always on hand.
Overcoming the stress of being arrested
Being arrested will be a frightening traumatic and confusing time for most people. We will guide you through the whole process and ensure that in the first instance we advise you on the lawfulness of the arrest. Indeed, from our experience, there arises many occasions where the arrest itself is unlawful.
Criminal legal advice you can count on
We'll provide you with sound legal advice and quality legal representation in every situation from your initial arrest by the police through to representation in court or during parole and bail applications.
Why do you need a criminal defence lawyer?
Being arrested and charged with a criminal offence will be without a doubt one of the most difficult and stressful times in your life. Certainly not a time that you should go through alone.
Legalbit is a modern criminal law firm based on the Central Coast, with offices in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. The firm is currently comprised of Senior Criminal Lawyers, Consultants, Senior and a Junior Paralegals and Support Staff. We are a truly modern 24/7 flexible criminal law firm.
Criminal Offences Overview
Criminal offences can be broken up into three categories:
Summary offences are charges, generally minor in nature, dealt with by the Local Court and are not heard by a jury. The most serious of summary offences carry a maximum of two years imprisonment. An example of a summary offence is criminal trespass, or driving with a suspended licence. Summary offences must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
An indictable offence is an offence which carries a term of imprisonment greater than two years. An example of an indictable offence is burglary, or dangerous driving. Before a person is charged with an indictable offence, committal proceedings must be conducted. Committal proceedings involves the accused being served a brief of evidence, and the prosecution certifying that the evidence is capable of establishing the elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt.
Indictable offences are usually heard in the District Court or the Supreme Court and can be heard in front of a jury at the election of the prosecution or the defence. Indictable offences may be heard by Local Courts, however, as Local Courts can only impose a maximum sentence of two years, the prosecution will generally choose to have these offences heard summarily when the objective seriousness of the offence does not warrant a penalty greater than two years imprisonment. If you are charged with an indictable offence, Legalbit lawyers can provide advice on whether it is possible or preferable to have it dealt with by the Local Court.
Strictly Indictable Offences
A strictly indictable offence means the offence may only be tried on indictment. In other words, it must be dealt with in the District or Supreme Court of the applicable State. An example of a strictly indictable offence is attempted murder, supply drugs causing death or possession of an explosive with intent to commit serious indictable offence.
Whether summary or indictable, criminal charges are serious business. Both summary and indictable offences must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Whether you have come into contact with the justice system for the first time, or facing a custodial sentence, it is vital to obtain legal advice so as to ensure fully informed decisions are made throughout each step in the process.
At Legalbit, we will keep you informed about your options (including, but not limited to, whether the charges laid against you are appropriate or whether there are any defences available to you) every step of the way. We work tirelessly to obtain the best result possible for you.
Sentencing is a procedure followed after a plea of guilty, or a finding of guilt at trial. Sentencing is the most important part of the criminal procedure for those charged, as it is where the punishment is finalised.
The types of punishments given to offenders at sentencing include:
- Conditional Release Order (‘CRO’)
- Community Corrections Order (‘CCO’)
- Intensive Corrections Order (‘ICO’)
- Full Time Custodial Sentence
Conditional Release Order
A CRO (otherwise known as a ‘section 10’ order) refers to Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW). A section 10 is a dismissal of the charges upon a finding or plea of guilty.
A section 10 dismissal can be given in two ways:
- An unconditional discharge of the offences. This keeps the offence off a criminal record for the purposes of an employment background check.
- A conditional discharge of the offences. Conditional in this context means, for example, a period of good behaviour. After the conditional period expires, the charge is dismissed and will not appear on an employment background check, and the charge is not required to be disclosed to anyone.
Intensive Corrections Order
An ICO is the most serious form of sentence aside from a full-time custodial sentence. One sentenced to an ICO must report to a community corrections officer according to the reporting interval specified in the order. Many conditions can be attached to an ICO, including:
- Abstaining from alcohol/drugs
- Restrictions on attending places (e.g., bars)
- Non association requirements
- Home detention
- Community service
A breach of an ICO is extremely serious. Unless there is extenuating circumstances present, the offender may be liable to serve out the remainder of the ICO period in full time custody.
Community Corrections Order
A CRO is a flexible order that reflects the nature of the offender and the objective features of the offence. A CRO records a conviction on the criminal record of the offender, and imposes a condition (such as community service, or supervision by a community corrections officer). These orders can be imposed for a period of up to three years. Breach of a CRO may result in the offender being brought before the courts for a reconsideration of the order, and/or the imposition of a penalty such as a fine or a period of imprisonment.