women looking at wardrobe deciding what to wear to court

I’m going to court
what should I wear?

Going to Court can be a very stressful and confusing time.  We often have clients who are unsure of what to wear, particularly if our client has not been to Court before.

It is important to present yourself appropriately, and to dress suitably for Court.  There are a few simple guidelines to follow to ensure that you are dressed appropriately.

Dress Conservatively

You should dress conservatively and make sure your clothes fit you, and that you are modestly covered.  If you are wearing a dress or skirt, you should ensure the length is appropriate for Court.  You should not wear shorts, dresses and skirts that are shorter than knee length.  If you do not have knee length attire, we recommend that you wear stockings underneath or choose to wear pants instead.

Present neatly

You should present as well groomed, with tidy hair and clean clothing.  Facial hair should be neat and any tattoos should be covered if possible.

Avoid certain items of clothing

You should avoid wearing jeans, shorts, t-shirts and thongs.  You should also avoid any item of clothing with logos or slogans that could be deemed offensive or inappropriate.

Avoid being too formal

It is not necessary for you to wear a suit and tie, dress suit or a tuxedo.  You should be aiming to be dressed in smart casual or office appropriate attire.

Avoid buying expensive new clothes

While it is important that you dress appropriately, you should not go to the unnecessary expense of purchasing expensive clothing for your Court appearance.  This would not be practical for many clients.

Many clients have appropriate clothing to wear to Court, without needing to purchase new clothes.  For example, you could wear the following:-

  • A simple ironed button down or polo shirt, dress pants and dress shoes; or
  • A dress or skirt and blouse, conservative in length (knee length or longer) and appropriate footwear.

For more information, or if you would like to speak with someone about your pending court matter, please contact our office.

(07) 4963 2000
ONLINE ENQUIRY
Brittany McIntyre, Law Clerk, Wallace & Wallace Lawyers

Brittany McIntyre
Law Graduate
Criminal Law

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What is a Police Banning Notice?

A Police Banning Notice may be issued by the police if you are behaving in a disorderly, offensive or violent manner in proximity to a licensed venue.  The Police Banning Notice will ban you from a specific area or event, by stopping you from entering or remaining at:-

  • a licensed premise (such as a bar or nightclub);
  • a safe night precinct (such as the CBD of Mackay or another town);
  • a public event where alcohol is sold; or
  • an area surrounding one of the above areas.

The police are required to explain the notice to you.  The Police Banning Notice will then take effect immediately.  The notice will generally remain in place for a period of 10 days or until the event you are banned from is finished.  However, in some circumstances the Police Banning Notice can be extended for up to 3 months.

What is the Mackay Safe Night District?

If you are issued a Police Banning Notice while in the Mackay CBD (at a nightclub or hotel), you will often be banned from attending the Mackay Safe Night District.  The Mackay Safe Night District is bordered by Milton Street, Shakespeare Street, Tennyson Street and the Pioneer River.  If you are subject to a Police Banning Notice, you are not able to enter this area.

The Police Banning Notice will usually only prevent you from entering the area at night  and you will generally be able to enter this area during the day.  However, this is not always the case and it is important that you understand and comply with the conditions of your Police Banning Notice.

What happens if I do not obey the Police Banning Notice?

The police can distribute the Police Banning Notice to venues and events, to ensure compliance.  The Police Banning Notice will also be linked to identification scanners at licensed venues.  Should you attempt to enter a premise fitted with identification scanners, the police will be automatically notified.

It is an offence to breach a Police Banning Notice, unless you have a reasonable excuse for failing to comply.

Do I have to go to Court if I ignore the Police Banning Notice?

You will be required to attend Court if you are charged with breaching a Police Banning Notice.

The maximum penalty the Court can impose is a fine of 60 penalty units (as at 1 July 2018 a single penalty unit had a value of $130.55 which equates to a maximum fine of $7,833.00).  You can find out more information about penalty units here.

You will also be required to pay the Offender Levy, in addition to any other fine that is imposed.  You can find out more information about the Offender Levy here.

You can contact our office on 07 4963 2000 or via our online contact form if you would like to speak to our experienced team regarding your Police Banning Notice.

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Public nuisance sign

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.

Do I have to go to court if I have been charged with public nuisance?

Yes, you will be required to attend Court if you are charged with this offence.  It is considered a ‘simple offence’, which means that your matter will be finalised in the Magistrates Court.

What is the penalty for public nuisance?

The maximum penalty is a fine of 10 penalty units, or a period of imprisonment of 6 months.  The current value of a penalty unit is currently $130.55 (as of 1 July 2018).  Therefore the maximum fine that is able to be imposed by the Court is $1,305.50.

You will also be required to pay the Offender Levy on conviction.  You can find out more information regarding the Offender Levy here.

Will I go to jail?

The penalty will be reliant on the facts of your particular matter and your previous history.  If you have prior criminal history, it is particularly important that you receive legal advice as to the penalty that is likely to be imposed by the Court.

What do I do if I get charged with public nuisance?

We recommend that you seek legal advice if you have been charged with this offence.  Court can be stressful, and it is important that you receive legal advice before your matter proceeds.

Getting legal advice, and representation at Court, will ensure the Court understands any mitigating features in your favour.  This can result in a lesser penalty being imposed.  We are also able to seek (in some circumstances) that no conviction be recorded on your criminal history for the offence.

You can contact our office on 07 4963 2000 or via our online contact form if you would like to speak to our solicitors regarding public nuisance.

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Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi
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Offender Levy

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Judge and gavel

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.

How much is the Offender Levy?

The Offender Levy is prescribed in section 10 of the Penalties and Sentences Regulation 2005 (Queensland).  The current prescribed Offender Levy (as at April 2019) is $123.00 if you are convicted in the Magistrates Court and $368.90 if you are convicted in the District or Supreme Court.

How do I pay the Offender Levy?

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.

If you would like more information regarding the Offender Levy, please contact our office on 07 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.

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Drug Offences?

There are many offences relating to illicit substances.  These offences do not only relate to possession, but also to trafficking, producing and supplying dangerous drugs.  These are serious offences which may carry severe consequences.

There are also less serious offences regarding drug paraphernalia, such as bongs, pipes, needles an scales.  These items are referred to as “utensils” and “things”.

You should seek legal advice if you are charged with any form of drug offence.

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.

What is the penalty for possession of a utensil?

The penalty for possessing a utensil used to administer, consume or smoke a dangerous drug is 2 years imprisonment (jail).

However, you may be eligible for a drug diversion program.  The programs are aimed at diverting minor drug offenders away from the Court system, by referring offenders to a drug education session.  Diversion is provided as an alternative to the other penalties available to the Court, such as issuing a fine or imposing a community based order.

You can find out more about drug diversion by clicking here.

What do I do if I get charged with possession of a utensil?

You should seek legal advice if you are charged with possession of a utensil.  You can contact our office on 07 4963 2000 or via our online contact form if you would like to speak to our solicitors or find out more information regarding your drug offence.

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Police executing a search warrant

Search Warrants in
Queensland

The police don’t have a warrant.  Can they search me?

There are some circumstances where you, your home or your vehicle can be searched without a warrant.

Searching your home without a warrant

The police are able to enter and search your residence without a warrant in several circumstances, including:-

  • they have a reasonable suspicion that evidence will be destroyed if they wait for a warrant;
  • they are required to enter to arrest someone;
  • there is a crime scene;
  • they must enter the property to prevent domestic or family violence occurring;
  • they need to enter to investigate a traffic offence (such as obtaining a breath test);

There are several other circumstances in which officers can enter your home without a warrant.

You should seek legal advice if you believe your home has been entered unlawfully.

Searching you without a warrant

The police can search you without a warrant if they reasonably suspect that you are carrying various items, including:-

  • dangerous drugs;
  • stolen property;
  • a weapon (or any item you intend to use to harm yourself or others);
  • evidence of an offence (in certain circumstances).

You may also be searched if there is a reasonable suspicion that you are carrying tools that are used to break into houses or cars.

The police must respect your dignity and ensure minimal embarrassment to you.  They must also limit public searches to frisking and conduct anything more thorough away from public view (where possible).

Searching your car without a warrant

The police can search your vehicle without a warrant should they reasonably suspect there are certain items in the vehicle, including:-

  • dangerous drugs;
  • stolen property;
  • a weapon (or any item you intend to use to harm yourself or others);
  • evidence of an offence (in certain circumstances);
  • tools used to break into houses or other vehicles.

The police are also able to intercept, detain and search a vehicle to arrest someone if they reasonably suspect the vehicle is being used unlawfully.

Do I have to consent to the search?

You do not have to consent.  If you do not consent, you should clearly tell the attending officers that you do not want to be searched and do not agree to it being conducted.

However, the officers do not require your consent if one of the above circumstances apply.

You should comply with any direction given to you by the police, regardless of whether you consent.  If you do not comply with the directions, you may be charged with obstructing a police officer or failing to comply with a direction.

You can contact our office on 07 4963 2000 or via our online contact form if you would like to speak to one of our solicitors in relation to being searched by the police.

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Assault

There are several different offences relating to assault in Queensland including common assault, assault occasioning bodily harm or grievous bodily harm.

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There are several different offences relating to assault in Queensland including common assault, assault occasioning bodily harm and grievous bodily harm.

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Man with head in hands

Assault

Being charged with Assault, Grievous Bodily Harm or Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm in Queensland.

Assault is broadly defined in Queensland, with many different behaviours held to constitute assault. These behaviours commonly include:-

  • hitting;
  • kicking;
  • pushing;
  • touching; or
  • applying force of any kind.

There are several different offences relating to assault in Queensland. The type of offence you are charged with is directly related to whether the incident resulted in:-

  • an injury to another; and
  • the severity of any injury caused.

If no injury is caused, you may be charged with common assault. However, if an injury requires medical assistance, you may be charged with a more serious offence such as:-

  • Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm; or
  • Grievous Bodily Harm.

What is bodily harm and grievous bodily harm?

Bodily harm is any injury that a person has suffered as a result of an assault. Bodily harm is broadly defined, and can include:-

  • bruising;
  • swelling;
  • cuts, scratches and scrapes; and
  • fractured bones.

Grievous bodily harm is an injury that is far more serious than bodily harm. Grievous bodily harm is defined as:-

  • serious disfigurement or maiming;
  • the loss of a body part or organ; or
  • any other injury that would endanger a person’s life or cause permanent injury if left untreated.

You may be charged with Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm, or Grievous Bodily Harm, if you have caused an injury to another person. These are very serious offences and if you have been charged with Common Assault, Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm, or Grievous Bodily Harm you should seek legal advice immediately.

You may also be charged with Serious Assault in certain circumstances. Please click here to learn more about that offence.

Will I go to jail for assault?

The likelihood that you will spend time in custody (jail) is dependent on:-

  • the injury caused; and
  • the offence you are therefore charged with.

Common Assault is a misdemeanour and is the least serious charge of this nature. The maximum penalty is a period of imprisonment of 3 years. This charge will be dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm is a crime. The maximum penalty is a period of imprisonment of 7 years. However, the maximum penalty increases to 10 years imprisonment if you were armed or pretended to be armed during the incident, or if you were in company at the time. The charge will be dealt with in either the Magistrates Court or District Court, at the discretion of the Prosecutor.

Grievous Bodily Harm is a crime. The maximum penalty is a period of imprisonment of 14 years and the charge will be dealt with in the District Court.

What do I do if I get charged with Assault, Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm or Grievous Bodily Harm?

Getting legal advice, and representation at Court, will ensure the Court understands any mitigating features in your favour. This can result in a lesser penalty being imposed. We are also able to seek (in some circumstances) that no conviction be recorded on your criminal history for the offence.

It is important to obtain legal advice if you have been charged with assault. You can contact our office on 07 4963 2000 or via our online contact form, if you would like to speak to our experienced team regarding your charge.

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi Lawyer

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi
Associate
Criminal Law

Read More

Failure 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.

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.

What are the penalties for failing to appear?

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 (currently equating to $5,046.00) 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.

Do I need to see a lawyer?

It is important that you seek legal advice if you have missed a Court date. Your lawyer will be able to discuss with you the process for surrendering into custody, and the potential impact on your matter.

If you would like to discuss your matter, or have one of our local and experienced team represent you, please contact our office on 07 4963 2000 or by completing our online contact form.

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi Lawyer

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi
Associate
Criminal Law

Read More
Assault

Serious Assault

Being charged with serious assault in Queensland

Assault is broadly defined in Queensland, with many different behaviours held to constitute assault. These behaviours commonly include:-

  • Hitting;
  • Kicking;
  • Pushing;
  • Touching; or
  • Applying force of any kind.

There are several different offences relating to assault in Queensland. If no injury is caused, you may be charged with common assault. However, if an injury requires medical assistance, you may be charged with a more serious offence such as Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm (AOBH) or Grievous Bodily Harm. You can find out more information about Common Assault, Common AOBH and Grievous Bodily Harm here.

Serious assault

There are some circumstances in which an assault will be considered a “Serious Assault”, regardless of whether any injury is caused. These circumstances aggravate the assault charge as the victims are assumed to be more vulnerable. Assaulting a person in one of the following situations would constitute serious assault:-

  • a police officer while the police officer is on duty;
  • a person who is over the age of 60 years; and
  • a person someone who relies on a guide dog, wheelchair or other device.

These are some common examples of Serious Assault, however, there are other situations where you might be charged with this offence.

If you have been charged with Serious Assault, you should seek legal advice immediately.

Will I go to jail for Serious Assault?

The maximum penalty for Serious Assault is imprisonment (jail) for 7 years. However, some factors aggravate the charge further and increase the maximum penalty that may be imposed by the Court. These factors include:-

  • spitting or biting a police officer;
  • carrying or pretending to carry a weapon; and
  • causing an injury to a police officer or public officer.

In the above circumstances, the maximum penalty increases to imprisonment for 14 years.

What if the other person assaulted me first?

There are certain circumstances that may give rise to a defence of provocation. This defence may apply if you assaulted a person because you were provoked in a manner that deprived you of your ability to maintain self-control, and you reacted before you were able to regain control.

The defence will only apply in limited circumstances. You should seek legal advice about whether this defence is available to you.

What do I do if I get charged with serious assault?

We recommend you seek legal advice immediately. The charge may result in spending time in jail. It is important that you properly understand your options and any defences or mitigating issues that may be raised prior to proceeding.

You can contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form if you would like to speak to our solicitors regarding serious assault.

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi Lawyer

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi
Associate
Criminal Law

Read More

Factors for Sentencing

When you plead guilty or are found guilty of an offence, a Magistrate or Judge will impose a sentence as a penalty for committing the offence.  There are many different sentences available to the Magistrate or Judge, such as a fine, a community based order (including probation and community service) or a term of imprisonment.

The sentencing Magistrate or Judge must be guided by the sentencing principles set out in the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld).  A sentence can be imposed to:-

  1. punish the offender;
  2. assist in rehabiliting the offender;
  3. deter the offender from committing further offences;
  4. deter the community from committing offences; and
  5. protect the community from the offender.

The sentencing Magistrate or Judge must also take certain factors into consideration when deciding the appropriate sentence.  These factors include any mitigating features relevant to the matter.

Mitigating Features

The sentencing Magistrate or Judge must take into account any mitigating features that you have in your favour.  Mitigating features are your personal circumstances that should be taken into account to reduce your sentence.

The following are some examples of mitigating features that may be able to be relied on to reduce your sentence:-

  1. pleading guilty to an offence, particularly in circumstances where your plea has been entered at an early stage;
  2. a lack of criminal history;
  3. co-operation with authorities;
  4. remorse; and
  5. personal circumstances at the time of the offending, such as illness.

Your solicitor will tell the sentencing Magistrate or Judge the mitigating features in your favour, and will often hand up material to support their submissions.  This can include character references, or medical reports.

As your sentence will depend on your personal circumstances, as well as the nature of your offence, you should not assume that you will receive the same sentence as a friend or someone you have heard about in the media who was charged with a similar offence.  While our solicitors are able to provide advice as to the expected penalty range, the sentence you receive is ultimately at the discretion of the sentencing Magistrate or Judge.

Appeal

The sentencing Magistrate or Judge must give reasons for the sentence imposed on you.  If you do not agree with the sentence, or you think it is unfair, you are able to appeal the sentence.  You must file your appeal within 1 calendar month (for all Magistrates Court, District Court and Supreme Court matters) or you may lose your right to do so.

If you would like to discuss your matter, or have our office represent you, please contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi Lawyer

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi
Associate
Criminal Law

Read More
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