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Criminal Law

It can be very stressful and overwhelming to be questioned by police, or charged with an offence. This is particularly true if you do not have any criminal history and are unfamiliar with the criminal law process.

It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible after a situation arises.  This will ensure you understand the criminal law process, and your rights and obligations throughout any investigation and/or subsequent charge.

The criminal law process ordinarily involves one or more appearances at Court.  It is important that you seek legal advice prior to going to Court to make sure you understand the Court process and the implications of your actions at Court.

We offer advice and representation across all criminal law charges, from summary offences heard in the Magistrates Court to more complex matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the District and Supreme Courts.  Our firm appears in Mackay and regional Courts on a regular basis and is able to represent you effectively in Court.

We can assist you with:

Traffic & Driving Offences

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Licence Applications

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Assault & Violent Offences

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Firearms & Weapons Offences

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Fraud, Theft & Dishonesty

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Drug Offences

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Robbery Offences

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Domestic Violence

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Sexual Offences

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Other Offences

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If you have been charged with a criminal offence

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Intensive Correction Orders

If you have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment for one year or less, you may be granted an intensive correction order.

Mandatory Imprisonment
for Drink Driving Offences

Have you been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or a drug? Is it your third offence? You may be subject to a period of mandatory imprisonment.

The media and criminal law matters

The media are often present in court, and may be interested in your case. It is possible your matter will be reported in the newspaper, on news programs or on social media. Find out the answers to some of the most common questions in relation to just what the media can and can’t do.

Criminal Law Team

Our criminal law team is overseen by Greg Smart, a partner at Wallace & Wallace Lawyers. Greg is assisted by Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi, associate, Lara Tom, solicitor and Brittany McIntrye, law graduate.

Criminal Law FAQs

Can I be charged with drink driving, if I wasn't actually driving?

A person may be charged with drink driving if they are over the legal blood alcohol limit and they are:-

  • driving a motor vehicle, tram, train or vessel; or
  • attempting to put in motion a motor vehicle, tram, train or vessel; or
  • in charge of a motor vehicle, tram, train or vessel.

You can therefore be charged with a drink driving offence if you were in charge of a vehicle, not just if you were driving.

A person is “in charge” of a vehicle if the person has the ability to exercise physical control over the vehicle.  This is a broad definition, and may include situations such as:-

  • sitting in an idling vehicle;
  • sitting in a stationary vehicle while in possession of the keys; and
  • sleeping behind the wheel of a stationary vehicle.

If you have been charged with a drink driving offence it is important you seek advice immediately.

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What is a Protection Order / Domestic Violence Order?

A Protection Order is also referred to as a Domestic Violence Order (“DVO”). The Applicant in an Application for a Domestic Violence Order can be either the person applying for the DVO or an authorised person, such as a Police Officer, who is acting on their behalf.  The person who will be primarily protected by a DVO is known as the Aggrieved.  The person who the DVO will affect is known as the Respondent.

The purpose of a DVO is to protect the Aggrieved by requiring the Respondent to be of good behaviour towards the Aggrieved, and preventing the Respondent from committing acts of domestic violence against the Aggrieved. There may be further conditions of the DVO, such as conditions preventing the Respondent approaching or contacting the Aggrieved.

An Application for a Protection Order is a civil matter. However, if you are the Respondent to a DVO and you breach the DVO, you will be charged with a criminal offence.

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What is a Police Protection Notice?

A Police Protection Notice (“PPN”) may be issued by a Police Officer if they reasonably believe a person has committed an act of domestic violence.

The purpose of a PPN is to provide an Aggrieved with temporary protection, and will require the Respondent to be of good behaviour towards the Aggrieved, and not commit acts of domestic violence against the Aggrieved.

The PPN may also include a “cool-down” condition, which prevents the Respondent from contacting or approaching the Aggrieved for a period of 24 hours. The PPN may also include further conditions to prevent the Respondent from contacting the Aggrieved or approaching the Aggrieved for a further period.

The PPN will be treated as an Application for a Protection Order, and will remain in place until the matter is heard by the Magistrates Court of Queensland.

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Is it illegal to possess a bong or pipe?

Yes, it is an offence to possess “things” that are used to administer (or “take”) illicit substances if the items have been used for a drug offence.  For example, it is an offence to be in possession of a bong that has been used to smoke cannabis.

It is also an offence to be in possession of a thing which you intend to use in connection with an offence. For example, it is an offence to have a pipe that you intend to use to smoke methylamphetamine (commonly known as “ice”).

The prohibition includes any item that is used in connection with illicit substances, and can therefore include clip seal bags, scales and vacuum sealers.

You should seek legal advice if you have been charged with possession of a utensil.

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What is public nuisance?

Public nuisance is described as a person behaving in a disorderly, offensive, threatening or violent manner that interferes with the peaceful enjoyment of a public area.  There are numerous examples of behaviour that would be considered public nuisance, including:-

  • using inappropriate or explicit language;
  • threatening or disrupting a person or group;
  • encouraging others to engage in a fight;
  • being intoxicated and disturbing others;
  • behaving in a manner that causes another to be intimidated or threatened.

The offence is broad in nature.  You should seek legal advice if you have been charged with this offence.

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What if I fail to appear at Court?

It is an offence to fail to appear at Court when you are required to do so. If you do not attend Court in accordance with your Notice to Appear, Complaint and Summons or Bail Undertaking, a warrant may issue for your arrest. You may also be charged with the offence of failure to appear.

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What if I couldn't go to Court when I was supposed to?

You will have the opportunity to explain why you did not attend Court when you were supposed to. If you have a genuine reason for being unable to attend, you may be able to “show cause” as to why you failed to appear.

You should provide evidence to the Court as to why you were not able to attend. For example, if you were too ill to attend, you should obtain a medical certificate from your treating practitioner stating that you were not able to appear on the relevant date.

If you are able to show cause as to why you did not attend, the Court will not take further action against you.

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What are the penalties for failing to appear at Court?

If you are not able to show cause as to why you did not attend Court, or do not have any reason to have missed Court, you will be charged with failing to appear.

The maximum penalty for failing to appear is a fine of 40 penalty units or a period of imprisonment of 2 years.

In addition to the penalties available to the Court, a conviction for failing to appear may impact your bail undertaking. In some circumstances, you may be considered an unacceptable risk of failing to appear and your bail may be revoked.

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What is the offender levy?

The Offender Levy is a fee payable on sentence.  The Offender Levy is used to help pay for the costs associated with Court.

Every adult sentenced in Queensland must pay the Offender Levy.  You are not able to appeal the imposition of the Offender Levy, as it is a mandatory levy applied to all adults who are convicted of an offence in Queensland.  You must pay the Offender Levy whether or not a conviction is recorded for a particular offence.

The payment of the Offender Levy, and its impact on you, cannot be taken into account in determining your sentence.

The Offender Levy is prescribed in section 10 of the Penalties and Sentences Regulation 2005 (Queensland).

You are able to pay the Offender Levy at the Court Registry following your sentence.

If you do not pay the Offender Levy at the time of sentence, you will receive an enforcement order from the State Penalties Enforcement Register (SPER).  SPER will provide further payment options for your Offender Levy.  It is likey that you would be able to negotiate a payment plan with SPER, if you are unable to pay the Offender Levy in full.

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