CRIMINAL LAW & LEGAL AID

Criminal Law

We represent clients from the moment they first come into contact with the Police and a request is made for them to be “interviewed” at a Police Station. This is often when a client is at their most vulnerable and it is also a point when Police can gather evidence which may prove vital in a prosecution.

From the point when a person is first charged, we will then represent them in respect of a bail application and all subsequent appearances in Court.

The Lawyers at Walker Pender Group Pty Ltd are experienced in all manner of Court hearings from Summary Trials, Committal Hearings, District and Supreme Court trials and appearance to the District Court and Court of Appeal.

We act in respect of all forms of criminal case including –

Serious crime including murder, manslaughter, assault and other violent offences, dishonesty offences including break and enter, fraud and stealing, prostitution offences and sexual offences against children including child pornography, drug offences, Weapons Act offences and driving offences including dangerous operation and disqualified driving and driver’s licence disqualification/suspensions

We also represent clients which are charged with less serious offences including offences against the Weapons Act, public order offences including public nuisance and willful damage and domestic violence cases.

Often when a person is charged, a summons or a Notice to Appear is given requiring the person to appear at Court. However there are occasions, particularly when a person is charged with a serious offence where bail is refused by Police and a person is held at a Watch house before appearing in the Magistrates Court as soon as reasonably practicable. It is at that stage that a bail application is made.

There is presumption for bail under the Bail Act however in certain cases known as “Show Cause” cases, there is a presumption against bail and the person must show cause why bail should be granted.

If bail is granted then there are usually conditions imposed including conditions of no contact, conditions as to residence and reporting conditions. There can also be sureties imposed.

If bail is not granted by a Magistrate then the Supreme Court has the power to grant bail.

It is important that a proper bail application is made in the Magistrates Court as there is no automatic right to make a second application to a Magistrate if bail is initially refused.

It is a basic common law right entrenched in our legal system that a person has a right to silence. The State brings charges and the State must prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Consistent with this basic principal, an individual has a right to decline to answer questions asked of him/her beyond stating their name and address. Interviews are recorded for the purpose of being played later in Court. Not only does an individual run the risk of providing information to Police in an interview that might assist the Police in later prosecuting them in Court, but an individual, if a charge is brought, who later gives evidence in Court in some way inconsistent with the version given in their interview at a Police Station runs the risk of being labeled untruthful at that later Court proceeding which of course would affect potentially the outcome of the case against him/her. It is for this reason that it is important in each case to gauge whether an interview is appropriate prior to that interview being undertaken. The Lawyers at Walker Pender Group Pty Ltd can assist at that early stage in making the correct decision to avoid prejudice.

Often a person’s livelihood revolves around their ability to drive and the loss of a driver’s licence through disqualification or suspension can impact significantly on a person’s financial situation and their ability to support a family.

There are a number of occasions when traffic offences that are seemingly minor in nature can lead to mandatory disqualifications and loss of licences in circumstances where there is no right to appeal against that loss of licence.

The Lawyers at Walker Pender Group Pty Ltd can provide assistance to minimize the impact of a licence disqualification in certain circumstances.

We act in all types of driver matters including drink driving, dangerous driving, driving unlicenced, and vehicle impalement, state penalty enforcement suspension matters, demerit point’s suspension matters, work licence applications, special hardship applications.

Traffic Infringements

Driving offences and loss of licence

Most persons at some time or other either lose points on their licence due to minor traffic infringements or experience a trip to Court as a result of a more serious breach of the Law e.g. drink driving.

Whilst these offences often appear to an individual to be quite minor, breaches of the Law can carry harsh consequences.

An accumulation of too many points will result in a suspension of a driver’s licence whereas many traffic offences carry mandatory disqualifications which an individual is often unaware of until they arrive at Court to have their matter dealt with.

Drink Driving

Being in charge of a motor vehicle whilst over the legal limit or driving that motor vehicle whilst over the legal limit exposes an individual to a mandatory loss of licence. The duration of the disqualification will depend on the individual’s traffic history, their reading and other factors personal to them. The very minimum a person will lose their licence for is 1 month which can have serious consequences for them in terms of their employment.

If you are charged with drink driving and require your licence for work, you may be eligible for a work licence depending on the blood alcohol reading and your traffic history.

There are prohibitions on your ability to apply and it is important to obtain advice as to your eligibility prior to applying. If an application has been made, it must be made prior to the charge being dealt with. It is not possible to obtain a work licence after you have pleaded guilty to your charge.

Some drink driving offences result in immediate suspensions of a driver’s licence prior to a person even appearing in Court. It is possible for apply for a work licence in these circumstances.

The Lawyers at Walker Pender Group Pty Ltd have extensive experience in successfully prosecuting work licence applications.

Special hardship order applications

If a person accumulates too many demerit points within a specified period, their driver’s licence will be suspended by the Department of Transport. In circumstances where the loss of a licence will cause severe hardship, an Appeal can be made to the Magistrates Court. The application is essentially an appeal against the cancellation of the licence. If successful, the applicant is allowed to drive during the periods of the cancellation for specified purposes. Special hardship includes not only the loss of a job and therefore, the ability to support oneself or ones family but also special hardship to a family e.g. in the case of a sick child requiring regular medical treatment.

Unlicenced driving/disqualified driving

It is a sad reality that mandatory sentencing is becoming increasingly popular with the Queensland Government.

Many in our community are unaware of the mandatory disqualifications that apply for relatively simple offences such as driving a motor vehicle when one’s licence has been suspended by the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER).
In this situation, even if a person is unaware of the suspension as a result of not having received a letter from Queensland Transport, if they are caught driving during the suspension, there is a mandatory minimal loss of licence of one month irrespective of one’s employment, will affect the disqualification will have on their life or that of their family.

Driving under a demerit point suspension attracts a minimum disqualification of 6 months. Again, with no ability on behalf of the Court to reduce that disqualification to take into account a person’s personal circumstances.

It is important given the punishments that can be imposed and in certain circumstances, must be imposed by importance, that person’s rights must be fully explained to them and that they are properly represented to ensure the disruption to their life and that of their family is kept to a minimum.

The Domestic Violence family protection act provides the right for individuals and Police to apply to the Magistrates Court for a Protection Order requiring a respondent to an application to be of good behaviour and not commit an act of domestic violence against an aggrieved person. Further conditions can be imposed including conditions of no contact, a condition not to attend certain premises and conditions not to approach an aggrieved person.

The category of applicant is wide and includes siblings, parents and children, as well as the more normal category of spouses, de facto partners and persons in an intimate relationship.

It is an offence to breach a domestic violence order and the punishment includes imprisonment.

The Lawyers at Walker Pender Group Pty Ltd have extensive experience in acting, not only for applicant’s to domestic violence applications but also respondents to DV applications and can provide assistance and advice in what can be a most challenging time.

Walker Pender Group Pty Ltd has extensive experience in both representing Applicants for domestic violence orders and respondents.

Whilst a domestic violence order is a civil order, a breach of an order is a criminal offence which can result in a period of imprisonment being imposed of up to 2 years.

A protection order can also impact of family law proceedings particularly those involving children. An order being made can also affect the person’s employment as respondents to orders are prohibited from holding weapons act licences and must surrender weapons which is sometimes required for employment e.g. prison guards, Police Officers.

It is therefore important for parties to be fully aware of their rights and obligations under an order and of the impact that the order might have on any family law proceedings under way or to be commenced or a person’s employment as the case may be.

A Magistrate sitting in the Magistrates Court as Coroner has the power in circumstances where the death is suspicious to convene an inquest at which persons of interest and witnesses are called to give evidence in relation to the circumstances leading to a person’s death. It is possible for recommendations to be made by a Coroner which can include recommending a person be charged with a criminal offence. The strict rules of evidence that apply in a criminal case do not always apply in an inquest. Persons who have an interest in the outcome of the enquiry can apply for a Leave to be represented at the inquest. The Coroner has the power to summons witnesses to give evidence at the inquest. Any person who has been summonsed or who is concerned about the outcome of an inquest should receive legal advice with a view to be represented at the inquest.
Neighborhood disputes are all too common in our community. A Peace & Good Behaviour Act endeavours to manage conflict primarily between neighbours but also in other circumstances. An application can be made to the Magistrates Court for an order requiring an individual to be of good behaviour. Extra conditions can attach to the Order.

An applicant must demonstrate that there has been a threat to assault the person or to damage property. It must also be demonstrated that the person who has been threated is in fear because of the threat.

The Lawyers at Walker Pender Group Pty Ltd have successfully acted for both applicants and respondents to Peace & Good Behaviour Applications.

If an Application is opposed, then the matter proceeds to trial in the Magistrates Court which requires an applicant to prove each element to the requisite standard. The Rules of evidence and Law are quite technical and there are costs penalties for an unsuccessful applicant. It is for that reason important to be properly advised prior to commencing proceedings and properly represented once those proceedings have been commenced in order to maximise your opportunity to obtain an order and to avoid the costs punishment that might flow for failing to do so.

Upon being sentenced to a term of imprisonment, a Court must decide whether to suspend wholly or partly that term of imprisonment or place an individual on parole at a certain point. Sometimes a Court can make a parole release date effectively setting the date a person will be released on parole. In certain cases, a Court can only make an eligibility date for parole requiring the prisoner to apply to the parole board for parole. As a result of an eligibility being imposed, there is no guarantee that parole will be granted and is often necessary for prisoners to undertake courses and counseling prior to being considered for parole. Access to courses is limited and often results in delays prior to a parole application being able to be determined.

The Lawyers at Walker Pender Group Pty Ltd can assist in ensuring that a prisoner makes the best possible application for parole to maximise their chances of being successful which includes ensuring they undertake the right courses and obtain the right reports and references.

In certain circumstances, parole applications, if refused, can be reviewed and we are also able to assist you in these circumstances whereby an application can be made to the Supreme Court for review of the decision by a Judge.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation (Personal Injury work exempted)

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