Criminal Law FAQ’s
Gareth Stone LLB
Being charged with a criminal offence, or being asked to speak to Police, can be a daunting process and you need specialist legal advice to achieve the best outcome at any stage of a criminal proceeding.
Not all lawyers are equal – at WinterWoods Lawyers we have extensive experience in all aspects of criminal law, whether you are a first-time offender, all the way through to the most serious of criminal charges.
We are specialist criminal lawyers with extensive experience appearing across all criminal Courts from the District Court to the High Court and Court of Appeal. We have acted on a number of high-profile cases, and specialize in all types of advocacy, including Jury Trials.
We can help you achieve the best results, and we will work for you whatever your circumstances may be.
Q What do I do if Police want to speak to me?
There are some common misconceptions when it comes to what you have to do when Police want to speak with you. You do not have to answer Police questions (other than to provide basic contact details such as your full name and address). You do not have to accompany Police unless you are placed under arrest.
If Police want to speak to you about something you were involved in – seek professional legal advice immediately. It is common for people to think that if they get their side of the story out there, or accept offending right away when spoken to by Police, then they will be treated more leniently. This is often not the case – when Police speak to you, they are obtaining evidence which can and will be used against you later.
This includes informal statements or comments made to Police and is not limited to ‘formal’ signed statements, or interviews made on video.
If Police would like to speak to you, seek legal advice immediately from a Criminal Law specialist. We are here to assist you at times like these.
Q Can I get Diversion?
Diversion can be available to first-time offenders, usually for low-level charges. That process involves accepting what you have been charged with (this does not necessarily mean pleading guilty in Court).
You cannot get Diversion for Excess Breath Alcohol charges, or charges which carry a minimum period of disqualification. That does not mean there are no options for you. If you are in this situation, contact us to get complete legal advice – there are ways to avoid a conviction through the Court process, or to avoid a period of disqualification.
If Police say they have declined Diversion, we may be able to help review their decision or assess the evidence and charges against you.
Q I am worried about the consequences of a conviction, how can I avoid this?
If you have been convicted of an offence, or you have been charged with an offence and Police have declined Diversion, you may be able to make an Application to the Court for a Discharge Without Conviction.
A Discharge Without Conviction only applies in certain circumstances and involves a written Application to the Court. The Court will consider how serious your offending is, the consequences of a conviction, and assess whether the consequences are ‘out of all proportion’ to the offending.
We have extensive experience in making these Applications. Contact us to discuss how we can help you potentially avoid a conviction.
Q I have been disqualified/suspended from driving; but I need to drive for work, what can I do?
If you have been disqualified from driving by the Court or suspended from driving as a result of excess Demerit Points, we can help you apply for a Limited Licence.
A Limited Licence is an Application to the Court to allow you to drive to alleviate ‘extreme hardship’ to you, or ‘undue hardship’ to others. This can involve circumstances such as when you will lose your job if you cannot drive, or if other people will be substantially impacted by your inability to drive.
There are specific circumstances that apply when you make an Application which can be tricky to navigate. We are experts at applying for Limited Licence’s and helping our clients get back on the road.
Q What should I expect when I appear at Court?
Appearing in Court can be stressful, but it does not need to be. The way to make Court appearances less stressful is to be prepared. We make sure that you are prepared for any Court appearance, whether you are appearing for the first time, or appearing for Jury Trial.
When you are first charged with an offence you will be summonsed to appear at Court, or you may appear at Court following an arrest. At your first appearance, you may appear in front of a Court Registrar, Justice of the Peace, or Judge.
One of the first things you will have to decide is whether to accept a charge by pleading Guilty or deny the charge by pleading Not Guilty. The law, and circumstances of your case, are often not ‘black and white’. It is important you receive quality legal advice before making that decision.
The decisions you make at the early stages of your case can have a huge impact on whether you achieve a successful outcome – contact us to receive specialist legal advice at any stage of your case.