Aitken Whyte Lawyers provide criminal defence and advocacy for all police charges. We can assist with any offence that is proceeding before the Queensland Courts. We also provide investigation stage advice and representation for regulatory offences. We assist both individuals and businesses who require skilled and knowledgeable representation.
Our lawyers understand that the prospect of going to Court can be daunting. Our criminal justice process can become overwhelming if you don’t know what to expect. We make it a priority to explain all aspects of the process and provide you with guidance at each step. Our experience with the Court process allows us to provide clear explanations.
Even though the process is familiar to us, we carefully consider each case. Criminal charges can carry serious repercussions. As such, we understand that these matters cannot be taken lightly.
Below we discuss:
If you would like to speak to a criminal lawyer about your case, please contact us.
While you can seek legal advice at any stage of your matter, it is a good idea to speak to a lawyer at the earliest opportunity.
If police are investigating you or intend to charge you with an offence, one of these will likely occur:
If the police have contacted you, it can be a good idea to speak to a lawyer before answering any questions. There is a right instilled in our justice system to remain silent and not to incriminate oneself. This means you do not have to:
You may, however, be obligated to provide police with your identifying particulars. Police can generally ask you to provide your name and address if they consider that you have broken the law. In certain circumstances, you must also give your date and place of birth and police may have the power to take:
The police should caution you if it is an offence not to provide certain information.
Generally, you should not offer any other information during the preliminary stages of questioning. Rather, you can find out what information the police are looking for and then contact us to discuss:
You should expect that anything you say to the police can be used by them and quite often recorded. They may record your conversation even if you are only talking to them on the street.
If you do not want to answer any questions but do not know if you have the right to refuse, you can ask to speak to a lawyer first.
Unless you are under arrest, you do not need to go to a police station. You also do not need to provide a statement. More than likely, despite what you may be told, doing so will not assist your position.
Remember, the police themselves are not able to give you legal advice.
If in doubt, ask to see a lawyer.
We can attend the police station with you or provide you with legal advice before you talk to the police. We may also be able to speak to the police on your behalf and assist you in providing a statement if you wish to do so.
The most urgent priority if you have been arrested and remanded in custody is usually to:
It may be that a loved one has been arrested and you wish to engage a lawyer to make a bail application on their behalf.
We understand the urgency of such applications as well as the need to properly prepare. We can prepare for and appear on bail applications on an urgent basis. We can also engage a barrister to appear in Court on an urgent basis, where appropriate.
We will let you know if any additional preparation should be undertaken for the best chance of success. You can usually only make one application for bail in the Magistrates Court. This is unless there is a significant change in circumstances. Otherwise, if bail is refused in the Magistrates Court, you must apply to the Supreme Court for bail. Supreme Court bail applications are more involved and require more preparation. The Supreme Court, however, is sometimes more likely to grant bail. We can assist with a Supreme Court application if bail has previously been refused. We are also able to expertly represent those in a “show cause” position.
We will discuss your prospects, options, and the process of bringing an application.
We are also often able to undertake bail applications for a fixed fee, to give you costs certainty.
Our aim is to minimise the time you, or your friend or family member, spend in custody.
If you require representation to apply for bail, contact us to speak to a lawyer.
When you appear in Court, you will usually broadly have the following options:
These options can vary depending on the severity of the charge.
For more minor offences, there may be alternate ways to finalise the matter outside of Court.
For more serious offences, there will be other decisions to make as the charge progresses.
We will provide you with guidance so that you are fully informed of your options at every stage.
You will need to attend Court if you are given:
All people over 17 who are charged with a crime will have to go to Court. If you do not turn up when you are meant to, a warrant may be issued for your arrest. We are also able to assist with youth justice matters if you (or your child) need to appear in the Children’s Court.
Engaging a lawyer before your first Court date will mean you are fully appraised of your options. If you have not yet contacted a lawyer, however, you can ask the Court for an “adjournment” to obtain legal advice.
Your first Court appearance, called a “first mention“, will be in the Magistrates Court. This is the case regardless of whether the offence is a “summary” or “indictable” offence.
Summary offences will stay and be finalised in the Magistrates Court. If you decide to plead guilty, you may be able to finalise your matter on the first Court date. One or more adjournments may still be necessary, however, if:
If the charge is indictable it will need to progress to the District Court or Supreme Court to be finalised. This is the case whether you are pleading guilty or pleading not guilty and going to trial.
If you are unsure how you wish to proceed, we can consider the evidence and advise you on your options and prospects. Contact us for legal advice.
Indictable offences must go through the committal process. This process allows them to proceed from the Magistrates Court to a higher Court.
The first step is for the prosecution to produce a Full Brief of Evidence to the defendant or their legal team. At a mention in the Magistrates Court, we can order the Brief of Evidence from the prosecution. They will then compile all evidence against the accused that they intend to rely on. It is important to go through this evidence and make sure nothing is missing. Making sure you have all the evidence will give you a clear picture of the case against you and to ensure there is sufficient evidence.
There are then two main ways for a charge to be transferred, or “committed”, to one of the higher Courts.
The first step is by way of a “committal hearing”.
Committal hearings can only take place if the prosecution agree or the court makes orders for it to occur and may only involve particular witnesses and about parts of their evidence.
At a committal hearing, the prosecution will present its evidence to the Magistrate. This evidence will be in the form of oral evidence given by each of the prosecution witnesses and statements of evidence. The defence will have an opportunity to cross-examine these witnesses. This will allow them to question the evidence and the witnesses’ credibility.
The purpose of the hearing is to determine if there is sufficient evidence to place the accused on trial. The Magistrate will not consider or determine the guilt of the defendant. They will only assess the evidence. The Magistrate will then decide if it would be possible for a jury to find the defendant guilty. This is on the basis of the evidence available being presented to a jury, properly instructed.
If the Magistrate determines there is sufficient evidence, the matter will be committed. Alternatively, the Magistrate may determine there is insufficient evidence for a trial. In this case, they must dismiss the charge against the defendant.
A committal hearing gives the defendant the opportunity to:
The potential disadvantages are that:
The prosecution may then have time to strengthen any weaker areas before trial.
The defence cross-examining witnesses or leading evidence can also sometimes be disadvantageous. It can give the prosecution advanced warning of the defence’s arguments and trial strategy.
The second way to commit a charge is by consent. This applies where the defendant:
The matter may then be committed in one of two ways.
The first is by way of a “full hand-up committal”. A full hand-up committal occurs in Court. It involves the prosecution handing up the evidence for the Magistrate’s review. The Magistrates will ensure there is sufficient evidence before committing the matter. Oral evidence, however, will not be heard. The defence can also not cross-examine any witnesses.
The second is by way of “registry committal”. This is a streamlined committal process. The defendant must agree to forego a committal hearing and full hand-up committal.
Paperwork is submitted and processed by the Court. The charge is then administratively committed to a higher Court. This is the most economical way of proceeding if you do not wish to question the evidence at this stage.
Following committal, the next step is to wait for the presentation of an “indictment“.
Police prosecutions will transfer their file to the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Commonwealth offences, however, will be prosecuted by the Commonwealth DPP.
The prosecuting body then has up to 6 months to present an indictment (a formal charge sheet) in a higher Court.
Until a date is set for the indictment presentation, you will not need to appear in Court. We can use this time to consider applying or reapplying for bail if you are in custody. It may be the case that you are at risk of spending too much time in custody before an indictment is presented. This can constitute a change of circumstances, meaning you can make another application.
Following a review of the evidence, we will discuss:
In some cases, it can be advantageous to cross-examine witnesses at an early stage. In others, it may be better not to ‘play our hand’ before trial.
It is a good idea to consult with a barrister at this stage of your matter. We can recommend barristers who have experience with your particular charge.
If you have been charged with an indictable offence and require committal advice, we can help.
If you wish to defend against the charges, you or your lawyer will advise the Court.
If the charge is a summary offence, the matter will be listed for a “summary hearing“. A summary hearing is a trial in the Magistrates Court before a Magistrate.
If the offence is indictable, it must first progress to a higher Court before being listed for trial. In District and Supreme Court trials, there is usually a Judge (or Justice in the Supreme Court) and a jury. The jury (a panel of the public) will decide questions of fact. The Judge or Justice will decide questions of law.
If you decide to plead guilty, your matter will proceed to sentence before the relevant Court.
Your lawyer will speak to the Court on your behalf. Their role in Court is to make sentencing submissions in mitigation of any penalty. These submissions should cover your background and any mitigating circumstances. We aim to obtain the most lenient sentence appropriate to each case.
Prior to your sentence, we will discuss the possible and likely outcomes so that you know what to expect.
Undertaking preparation before your sentence date is important to obtaining the best result. The Courts will consider the preparation you have done, and this can result in a lighter sentence. We will provide advice and guidance on what you can do. This may include:
We will also ask you to provide us with information so that we can prepare thorough submissions.
There are a wide variety of sentencing options available to the Court.
There are legislated governing principles the Court must consider when sentencing, including:
The Court will ultimately exercise its discretion when sentencing while following these principles.
In addition to the above, the Court will also consider:
For this reason, it is important that the Court is informed of all relevant factors that go in your favour.
Below are some of the sentencing options that may be available.
Contact us if you would like to discuss your specific circumstances.
A sentence of imprisonment should be a last resort for the Court. A sentence that allows the defendant to stay in the community is preferable in most cases. Nevertheless, imprisonment is an available sentencing option.
Imprisonment will often be imposed on defendants who:
If there is a possibility that you will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, we will discuss this with you. We can assist you in undertaking preparation and put forward alternatives to the Court to avoid your spending actual time in custody.
A sentence of imprisonment does not always mean the defendant must spend time in custody. In some cases, the Court may decide to “suspend” the term of imprisonment.
This means that, for the term of the sentence, the defendant may remain in the community. If they commit a further offence, they may be brought back before the original Court. The Court may then activate the term of imprisonment.
This sentence is usually handed down when the Court:
A suspended sentence can only be imposed when the term of imprisonment is less than 5 years.
The Court may make a Probationary Order, putting the defendant on probation. This Order might state that the defendant:
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, we will discuss what this means.
Before your sentence, you will meet with a Court liaison from Community Corrections. The court liaison will assess your suitability for the program. They will then attend at your sentence to advise the Court of their view.
A Community Service Order involves performing work within the community. Work is undertaken as directed by a corrective services officer.
The Court may make a Community Service Order 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.
A defendant may be fined in addition to or instead of another sentence.
The maximum fine which can be imposed is determined by the type of offence which has been committed. When imposing the fine, the Court will consider the defendant’s financial circumstances. Fines can generally be referred to SPER for payment.
If a defendant has committed a crime against a person or property, they may be ordered to pay;
The Court may order them to pay the victim of the crime:
It may be that we can arrange for you to repay the victim, if appropriate, prior to your sentence. This will be looked on favourably by the Court and can lead to a better outcome.
The Court may release a defendant, without conviction, on the condition the defendant:
A Good Behaviour Bond will only be imposed for minor offences.
At sentence, the Court has the discretion to decide whether to record a conviction. The exception is where a term of imprisonment is imposed, in which case the Court must record a conviction.
If a conviction is not recorded, the charge will not show on your criminal history. You may still need to disclose it in some cases.
We can submit to the Court about:
The result of a criminal offence can impact you for years to come. When choosing a criminal lawyer to advocate for you, it is important to know what to look for.
Our aim is to obtain the best possible outcome for you. We have a record of accomplishing results and are trusted by our clients to achieve the results they need.
We will advocate for your rights before the police and before the Court.
We will also consider all options that may result in a better outcome and advise you of these.
If you would like to discuss these matters with a lawyer, we are happy to speak over the phone.
Our lawyers appear daily in Courts across South East Queensland. We are known within Queensland Courts from the Gold Coast to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.
We know from experience how best to present your case to achieve the optimal result.
Our Solicitor Director, Robert Aitken, has over 25 years of experience practicing law. In addition, we have a team of lawyers who are passionate about practicing criminal law. They apply this dedication and experience to every client’s case.
In addition to your lawyer, you may also require assistance from other professionals.
While your lawyer will be at the forefront of your defence team, we also work closely with:
This means you will have the support you need for your specific case.
It is important to know what your legal representation will include. While this will be tailored to your individual needs, our lawyers will, generally:
It is important to know what your legal representation will include. While this will be tailored to your individual needs, our lawyers will, generally:
We can assist you if you have been accused of or charged with any criminal offence.
Some of the specific charges we provide representation for include:
If you have been charged with one of the above or another offence, contact us for advice.
We aim to make our legal services easily accessible. The first step is for us to have an obligation-free conversation about your situation. We will set out the ways we can help and our costs so that you can decide whether you would like to engage us.
We aim to have a lawyer in the office available to take your call.
If all our lawyers are currently in Court, one of our team will take your details and arrange for a lawyer to call you. If there is a preferred window you would like to receive this call, just let us know.
Your discussions with our office are confidential and obligation-free.
Once one of our lawyers has spoken to you, they’ll send the information discussed to you by email. This way you can consider it and let us know when you’re ready to proceed.
If you need legal advice and representation for a criminal matter, we’re here to help. Our lawyers are knowledgeable and experienced in all areas of criminal law.
We strive to provide guidance and assistance that results in the best outcome for you. If you would like to know more, contact us to talk to one of our criminal defence lawyers
Aitken Whyte Lawyers Brisbane
2/414 Upper Roma Street
Brisbane QLD 4000