Life can take unexpected turns. You may have found yourself charged with a criminal offence. You may face a road traffic, drink driving, assault or related charge, drug offences, council bylaw contraventions, infringement fines or other matters. If so, let’s talk and discuss the options. Our Lilydale and Berwick based criminal lawyers are able to assist; don’t go to court alone.
Contact us on (03) 8658-0040 to arrange your free initial consultation today.
What Happens if I Plead Not Guilty to the Crime?
If you have been charged with a crime, you are immediately faced with two options: either plead not guilty, or plead guilty. Clients always and understandably want to know – do I have a case, or should I plead guilty?
Everyone is entitled to plead not guilty, and force the prosecution to prove their case in court. It is up to the prosecuting body (often the police, but could be local council or the RSPCA, for example) to prove their case against you.
If you plead not guilty, your defence lawyer will seek to poke holes in the prosecution’s case, and find the weaknesses in it. Charges generally need to be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’; this is a high burden for the prosecution to meet.
A good defence lawyer will also be aware of any technical arguments which can be mounted to support your case; for example, whether certain evidence is admissible or not. In some cases, if the prosecution’s case is shown to be weak, the prosecutor can be convinced to withdraw the charges. This is because if the police proceed with a weak case, the police may have to pay some of your legal costs if they can’t prove their case against you.
It’s important to have a lawyer review your case early on and provide you with advise as to whether your case should be defended.
Should I Just Plead Guilty?
On the other hand, probably the vast majority of people going to court end up pleading guilty to the charges which have been laid against them. Why? Because if the evidence of the prosecution is very strong, and a conviction is inevitable, you may often be able to receive a significant discount in sentencing if you plead guilty and save the court time which would be otherwise spent hearing your case.
You should NOT plead guilty just because you want to avoid the stress of court. Many clients come to us and tell us about charges which they pleaded guilty to years ago – but they maintain they only pleaded guilty to as a result of pressure, and a feeling they would have no hope of proving their case in court.
Keep in mind that if you plead guilty you are admitting to the crime and it will generally go on your criminal record – this can have significant ramifications down the track.
It’s always important to discuss your case with a criminal lawyer who can advise you on whether you have a case which can or should be contested. Even if your case is not able to be contested, a good criminal lawyer can help you get the best possible result from entering a guilty plea.
Call us on (03) 8658-0040 for an initial, no-cost discussion about your case.
What is a Diversion Order?
If it is (generally) a first offence, it may be possible to obtain a Diversion, which avoids a conviction being recorded against you.
Generally this is only available if both the prosecution and the Court is happy with this option, and you are willing to admit responsibility for the crime. We can assist by negotiating with the prosecution and presenting your case in the best possible light to the Court if a diversion might be appropriate in your matter.
A diversion often requires an apology from yourself to the victim, and possibly compensation or restitution to be paid. The big benefit, however, is that it does not result in a criminal conviction.
Read more about how to get the best outcome from a diversion here.
Where can your Criminal Lawyers Assist?
Our criminal lawyers can assists in all areas, however being Lilydale based we of course best able to assist residents of Lilydale, Warburton, Healesville, Yarra Glen, Mount Evelyn, and other surrounding areas.
Our new Berwick based office is well placed to assist clients needing criminal law assistance in Narre Warren, Pakenham, Lynbrook, Cranbourne, Frankston, and other south eastern suburbs.
Our lawyers are well placed to appear for you at Ringwood Magistrates Court, Dandenong Magistrates Court, and Frankston Magistrates Court, along with other metropolitan and country Magistrates Courts. We can also arrange representation in County Court and Supreme Court if necessary.
Contact us now by calling (03) 8658-0040 for a no obligation, free initial consultation.