We often receive inquiries from people who have found themselves in trouble with the Police. Sometimes this may relate to traffic or driving offences or theft and sometimes it relates to other criminal matters such as assault.
In some of these cases a person may have a legal defence to the charge and at Andersons, we can help them to have the charge withdrawn or to defend the charge.
In many cases we find that the person has broken the law but often they are an ordinary person who has found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time or has, through a set of circumstances, ended up committing an offence when they would not have otherwise done so.
In these situations we are able to advise the person about entering an early guilty plea with the court and making submissions asking the court to give the person a minimum penalty.
How might that work?
For example, in the past I was able to assist a truck driver who had been charged with a number of offences relating to breaching the Fatigue Management Regulations that drivers are required to observe when operating heavy vehicles like a truck. For the critical risk breaches he faced a maximum penalty of $15,000 for each offence and then a further $4,000 maximum penalty for each of the minor risk breach offences.
Unfortunately this person had faced employment pressures at the time and although he knew the requirements of the regulations, he ended up breaching those requirements. He sought our assistance to help him to explain the situation to the Court and to seek the minimum possible penalty for the offences.
I was able to make submissions to the Court asking the Court to deal with this person leniently taking into account their otherwise good driving record and lack of prior offending history.
The Magistrate noted that the maximum penalty for the offences faced was almost $100,000 in fines. However, after the Magistrate took into account my explanation as to the circumstances of the offending and the information regarding my client’s personal circumstances, the Court was prepared to provide for a lenient penalty so that my client was fined a total amount of under $5,000.
In South Australia current legislation allows a defendant to have the benefit of a 40% discount to their penalty if they plead guilty within 4 weeks of their first court appearance in a Magistrates Court in relation to a summary offence. It is important then for someone charged with a criminal offence to get advice as soon as possible, even before they are charged if they know that the police are investigating them for an offence. You may also find it useful to read our article “Should I answer Police questions?”
At Andersons we understand that sometimes people need help with legal matters when circumstances have led to them being in a difficult situation like this. It is important that people obtain legal advice from solicitors experienced in their field to help them in dealing with their matters to achieve the minimum penalty where possible.
If you need help with police offences or criminal charges, we encourage you to contact our office to obtain legal advice and assistance.