Aitken Whyte Lawyers provide a complete service for all criminal defence matters and crime in Brisbane and South East Queensland and including matters funded by Legal Aid Queensland. While not exhaustive, our law firm of dedicated and experienced criminal defence solicitors provide a full range of crime defence including drugs charges, crimes against the person, property related offences, white collar crime including Centrelink fraud charges and other Commonwealth Criminal Code offences, sex crimes, task force Argos arrests, violent crimes and other police charges.
Being arrested or accused of a crime can be particularly traumatic for the most part as it will involve police, investigations, processes and procedures that are not a regular part of most people’s daily lives. The criminal justice system and those involved can be threatening and confusing. The prospect of being prosecuted, fines, a criminal record and the potential of imprisonment are not matters that can be taken lightly. Aitken Whyte Lawyers in Brisbane can advise you in all respects from start to finish and of your rights and obligations.
Aitken Whyte Lawyers' aim is to obtain the best outcome possible in the criminal matter you are facing. We can be trusted with your information and freedom and our approach towards all legal matters is focused on achieving results.
When faced with criminal charges, trying to find a lawyer, quickly, is generally a first thought. People who have been recently arrested need to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. The most urgent priority is often getting a lawyer to help arrange bail and provide some information about what's to come in the days ahead. Aitken Whyte Lawyers can assist you with the full range of criminal offences and can represent you at police stations and in court and will handle your matter form start to finish. We accept matters that are funded by legal aid and can help you in making the application for funding if appropriate.
We have access to experts who can assist you in your defence, such as barristers, senior counsel and consultants. Finding the right team is important in what is usually one of the most stressful times of your life and we will make sure that those people are there to provide the specialist and professional services you are need.
There is a right instilled in our justice system to remain silent and not to incriminate oneself. Police can generally ask you to provide your name and address if they consider that you have broken the law. In drug matters you are also obliged to give your date and place of birth and there are wide ranging powers available if the matter is a traffic related offence. The police should caution you that an offence is being committed if certain information is not correct or not provided.
It is usually a good idea not to offer any other information at preliminary stages of questioning, but rather, find out what information the police are looking for and then contact us to discuss your options, rights and how best to proceed. You can expect that anything you say to the police will be used by them and quite often recorded, even if you are only talking to them on the street. If you don’t want to answer any questions but don’t know if you have the right to refuse, then ask to see a lawyer for advice first.
Unless you are under arrest, you don’t need to go to a police station. You don’t need to provide a statement and more than likely, despite what you are told, it will not assist your position.
Police in certain circumstances have powers to take fingerprints, photographs and DNA samples from persons charged with certain criminal offences. It will depend on the particular charge and if in doubt, ask to see a lawyer. The police themselves are not able to give you legal advice.
You have to go to Court if you are arrested and given a Bench Charge Sheet, if you are given a Notice to Appear or a Summons. All people over 17 who are charged with a crime will have to go to Court. If you don't turn up when you are meant to, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
The first step for offences in Queensland is appearing in the Magistrates' Courts. All matters whether they are finally dealt with by a Magistrate first appear in a Magistrates' Court. If pleading guilty to the offence you have been charged with then, it might be that you can have your matter dealt with finally on the very first appearance in Court. That is the case for more than 90% of criminal matters dealt with by the Queensland Court system. For more serious offences however, it might be that even if you want to plead guilty to the offence, it has to be dealt with by the District or Supreme Court. There might also be some preparation that should be undertaken to present your matter on sentencing that means that an adjournment is necessary or to take time to make submissions to the prosecution to consider some aspect of the matter.
If you want to defend the charges that have been laid against you, then the Magistrates' Court can be asked on that first occasion to have the matter listed for a summary hearing if the Court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter, or alternatively, start in process the procedures to have the matter moved to the District or Supreme Court as the case may be, which might include first proceeding through a committal hearing. The main difference between trials heard in the Magistrates' Court compared with trials heard in the District or Supreme Courts, is that a Magistrate alone decides your guilt or innocence and then sentences you (if guilty), whereas there is a Judge and Jury in the higher courts. Juries are panels of the public who decide questions of fact and the Judges (or Justice as they are referred to in the Supreme Court) decide questions of law and impose sentences on those found guilty.
Committal hearings are also heard in the Magistrates' Courts. Their purpose is to decide, not whether you are guilty or not, but whether there is enough evidence to be put to a Judge and jury.
Aitken Whyte Lawyers can advise you of the various steps involved, which court or courts have jurisdiction to hear your matter or sentence you and the pros and cons of taking different steps and having the charges heard in either the Magistrates' Courts or a higher Court. Representation at an early stage is vitally important so that you are aware of your rights and the benefits that might apply to your matter. In all cases, if pleading guilty, the Courts will take that into account in sentencing and a lighter sentence will be imposed because of that.
If you are in doubt as to whether you should plead guilty or not guilty, then it is important that you contact us at an early stage and if need be, obtain an adjournment from the court to obtain legal advice.
The role of a solicitor acting for a client on the sentencing of a matter is to prepare and present submissions to the court about the client and the circumstances of the case. The aim of the submissions is to ensure that the client obtains the most lenient and most appropriate sentence available.
In sentencing offenders the court must take into account a number of governing principles such as the need to punish the offender, the need to deter the offender and others from committing the offence, the need to rehabilitate the offender and the need to protect the community. Although the court is bound to take these factors into consideration, ultimately the court exercises its discretions in determining what sentence is imposed.
Prior to appearing on your behalf for sentencing we will ask you to provide us with as much information as possible. In determining what sentence to impose the court will have regard to;
The maximum penalty that can be imposed.
The nature of the offence and the seriousness of the offence.
Whether or not the offence involved violence.
The offenders, age, character and intellectual capacity.
The offender's cooperation with law enforcement agencies and any assistance given to law enforcement agencies.
Therefore it is important that the court is informed of all of the relevant circumstances. There are a wide variety of sentencing options available to the Court. Please find listed here some of the sentencing options available to the court.
A sentence of imprisonment is a last resort for the court. A sentence that allows the offender to stay in the community is preferable. Nevertheless imprisonment is a sentencing option which is available. Imprisonment will often be imposed in cases involving serious crimes or a repeat offender who has a long criminal history.
On being sentenced to imprisonment the court may decided to suspend the sentence. This often occurs in circumstances where the court feels as though a sentence of imprisonment is appropriate however they are willing to give the offender one more chance. On imposing a suspended sentence the court will sentence the offender to a term of imprisonment however this sentence will be suspended thus the offender will not be sent to prison. Rather during the sentence operational period the offender must not commit another offence punishable by imprisonment. A suspended sentence can only be imposed when the term of imprisonment is less than 5 years.
The court may make a Probation Order which states that the offender does not commit another offence, that they must report to the corrections officer and that the offender must take part in counselling or other specified programs. A term of probation can be imposed for a period of no less than 6 months and no more than three years.
If probation is a suitable sentencing option in your case, prior to being sentences we will organise an appointment for you with a court liaison from Community Corrections prior to the matter coming before the court for sentence. The court liaison will assess your suitability for the program and will attend court to confirm their view with the court.
A community service order involves performing work within the community as directed by a corrective service officer. The court may make a community services ordered for a minimum of 40 hours and a maximum of 240 hours. The community service must be completed within 1 year from the making of the order.
A fine is the most common sanction imposed by the Courts. An offender may be fined in addition to or instead of any other sentence. The maximum fine which can be imposed is often determined by the type of offence which has been committed. In imposing the fine the court will have regard to the offender financial circumstances and their ability to pay the fine.
It is common for the court to impose restitution or compensation order in situations where the offender has committed a crime against a person or property. An offender may be ordered to pay compensation to the victim for any loss or destruction or damage caused or alternatively for any personal injury suffered by the victim.
The court may release an offender without conviction on the condition the offender be of good behaviour and appear before the court if required for the entire term of the bond. This will only be imposed in the least serious of cases.
In cases where a term of imprisonment is not imposed the court has the discretion to decide whether or not to record a conviction. If a conviction is not record you will not have a criminal record. We will make submission to the court as to why a conviction should not be recorded in your particular case. Although no conviction may be recorded, the court will still imposes a sentence which you will have to comply with for example the payment of a fine or restitution.
Aitken Whyte Lawyers
Level 2, 303 Adelaide Street, Brisbane
Ph: +617 3229 4459
Fax: +617 3211 9311