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What to do after being charged with a criminal offence

You should read this article if you, or someone you know, has been charged with a criminal offence and is considering pleading guilty / has been found guilty. It is important to remember that there are positive steps you or an accused person can take to mitigate and reduce the penalty that is going to be imposed by the Judge or Magistrate. Consider the following questions:

Are you on bail?

After being charged with a criminal offence, securing bail to get out of custody should be an immediate priority. While bail allows an accused to be removed from custody, it imposes a variety of restrictive conditions on the defendant.

It is important to comply with the conditions of the bail agreement because breaches can negatively impact a guilty plea or verdict resulting in a more severe sentence. Furthermore, a breach of bail alone can result in up to a two year prison sentence or a $10,000 fine. If a breach of bail occurs for an initial offence, it may also result in the presumption of bail under s 10 of the Bail Act 1985 (SA) being rebutted for subsequent offences, denying a successful bail application.

Have you been served with an Intervention Order?

Depending on the offence the accused has been charged with, an Intervention Order (formerly known as a restraining order) may have been implemented to restrict their behaviour or actions. Intervention Orders can be imposed by both the police or the court and can carry varying restrictions or durations. Often arising in situations of domestic or family abuse, they can further restrict an accused’s right to interact with certain vulnerable parties or visit specific locations. Compliance with an Intervention Order is  assists in minimizing sentence. Failing to abide by the terms of an Intervention Order can result in a carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment. Furthermore, following a breach, the court may order the defendant to attend an intervention program pursuant to section 13 of the Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009. Failing to complete the program may result in in a fine up to $1,250 as well as a $160 expiation fee. As such, it is essential that the terms of an Intervention Order are upheld in order to minimize the severity of any subsequent sentencing as well as to avoid any unnecessary criminal sanctions.

Preparing your case for court

Following a guilty verdict or plea, the court may have regard to the circumstances outlined in s 10 of the Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988 (SA). However, certain actions can be taken by the accused in order to assist in demonstrating to the court that the rehabilitation process has begun.

Domestic Violence

For example, in domestic abuse or cases of violence, an accused person may seek to participate in an Abuse Prevention Program. The successful completion of which would demonstrate that the defendant has actively sought rehabilitation and reflected on the significance of their actions.

Abuse prevention programs are offered by a variety of organisations such as Centracare of United Communities who aim to stem the frequency of such issues as well as offer support to victims.

Gambling or Fraud

For issues regarding gambling or fraud, a variety of services are offered by organisations such as Problem Gambling SA, in which multiple approaches can be taken to pursue rehabilitation. Services ranging from on the phone hotlines to group therapy can all be undertaken. In doing so, the accused may further demonstrate their commitment to breaking their addiction, the act of which may result in a lighter penalty.

Driving Offences

Other forms of rehabilitation may be more appropriate based on the nature of the offence. For driving offences, the South Australian Police (‘SAPOL’) and the Motor Accident Commission (‘MAC’) courses may be more appropriate. SAPOL and the MAC offer a wide range of courses, allowing one to cater their course to the charged offence. Alternatively, for driving matters regarding drug or alcohol intoxication, services offered by Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia (‘DAASA’) may be the most relevant. DAASA offer services seeking to treat, education and rehabilitate, all of which may be given consideration in sentencing.

Speak with a criminal lawyer

Being able to successfully demonstrate the pursuit of rehabilitation to the court may have a profoundly positive impact on the severity of a received sentence. Following a charge, you may wish to seek legal advice as to the best way to seek rehabilitation. At Georgiadis Lawyers, our team of Adelaide Criminal Lawyers can provide all the necessary advice in seeking help as well as provide legal representation ensuring you receive the lowest sentence possible. We offer fixed fees and welcome legal aid. At Georgiadis Lawyers we seek success for every client.

If you need more information or if you need assistance or advice on how to proceed please call us on 08 8210 5400 or email lawyers@georgiadis.com.au.

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