Section 32 Application

Eligibility for Section 32 Application

If you suffer from a mental illness, condition or disorder, or a developmental disability, and you have been charged with a criminal offence, you may possibly be eligible for a section 32 application. This is an application which is made pursuant to the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act, 1990.

section 32 application

Section 32 Applications – Discretion

Section 32.(3) gives a discretion to the Magistrate to make an order dismissing the charge and discharge the defendant:

(a) into the care of a responsible person, unconditionally or subject to conditions, or
(b) on the condition that the defendant attend on a person or at a place specified by the Magistrate for assessment of the defendant’s mental condition or treatment or both, or
(c) unconditionally.

Purpose of Section 32

The purpose of section 32 is to allow defendants with a mental condition, a mental illness or a developmental disability to be dealt with in an appropriate treatment and rehabilitative context, which can, if necessary, be enforced by the court. The practical purpose of these diversionary powers is that they allow the Local Court to deal more humanely with defendants with a mental illness or cognitive impairment than its general powers otherwise allow.

Section 32 Application – Implications

If an order is made in accordance with section 32, as the result of a section 32 application made on your behalf:

  • there will be no finding of guilt;
  • the charge will be dismissed without conviction; and
  • you will be discharged from the Court system, usually on specific conditions that you comply with certain treatment requirements.

These types of orders can result in offenders improving their mental health and not coming back before the courts.

Section 32 Application – Treatment Plan Treatment Plan for Section 32 Application

Generally a Magistrate will not consider an application under section 32 unless there is a treatment plan put before the Court which will be sufficient to support a defendant through his/her recovery/treatment phase for at least the next six month period. The person who will be overseeing the plan often needs to be identified to the Court, and should agree to both overseeing the defendant’s compliance with the treatment plan, and reporting any non-compliance to the Court.

Failure to Comply with Treatment Plan

Any failure to comply with the treatment plan can result in the defendant being brought back to Court and dealt with according to law. It is therefore important for a defendant to understand this potential ramification of non-compliance, before a possibly futile section 32 application is made to the Court.

Where to From Here?

Criminal Lawyers Sydney Criminal Lawyers Sydney are experienced in making section 32 applications in the Local Court. In fact, Brigitte Simeonides, the principal of Brigitte Simeonides & Associates, has also presented several educational papers to the Mental Health Professionals Network on this topic.

If you have been charged with an offence and you believe you have a mental health issue, particularly if that issue impacted on your offending behaviour, call us today, on (02) 9533 2269 – and find out whether a section 32 application can be made, to keep you out of the criminal system and into a treatment plan to help you stay well and out of further trouble!

 

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Criminal Lawyer

A criminal lawyer from our team will discuss your options with you. If you are facing Court for any type of charge, you would do well to seek legal advice before you make any decisions on whether to plead guilty or not guilty, and as to whether you would benefit from retaining a criminal lawyer to appear on your behalf.  We also appear in appeal matters, whether or not you were represented in the original matter which you are now considering appealing.

Speak to a Criminal Lawyer

Criminal lawyers appear in Court on your behalf in relation to any type of criminal charge.  If you have been charged with a criminal offence, you should call to enquire about representation as soon as possible. Don’t leave it until just before your Court date to call us, or your choice of solicitor may not be available to represent you on the day, and your matter may need to be adjourned unnecessarily.

Criminal Lawyer - Solicitor

Criminal Lawyer – Matter Types

We take instructions in all types of criminal matters from the very serious to the relatively minor charges. Types of offences that we can represent you for include:

–  very serious matters such as armed robbery, robbery in company, murder, malicious wounding, assault occasioning grievous bodily harm and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, domestic violence matters, drug importation matters, drug supply matters, fraud related matters, white collar crime, and many more.

– criminal matters that may be considered less serious, such as PCA (drink driving) charges, common assault, malicious damage, traffic offences, possession of relatively small quantities of drugs, and many more.

People often underestimate the seriousness of the offences they are charged with, and represent themselves, often to their detriment.

No matter what type of charge you are facing, we can assist you in providing timely advice, and representation in Court.

Speak to a Criminal Lawyer now!

Call to speak to a criminal lawyer now, on (02) 9533 2269

 

 

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Criminal Defence Lawyers

Have you been charged with a criminal offence and you want to plead Not Guilty?

Or are you unsure whether you should plead Guilty or Not Guilty?

Criminal Defence Lawyers

Criminal Defence Lawyers - Criminal Solicitors - Criminal Lawyers Sydney
can help you with your defence, and will advise you on whether you should be defending your matter (pleading Not Guilty), or pleading Guilty with an explanation about the circumstances of the offence.

It is important that you obtain legal advice at the earliest possible opportunity.  A competent criminal defence lawyer can certainly represent you if you decide you need representation at a later stage, but to ensure that your solicitor is in a position to fully prepare your case, the earlier you obtain that legal advice, the better it is likely to be for you.

Call Criminal Defence Lawyers to Find Out Your Options

So call us now to find out what your options are.  We will advise you on your best course of action so you will have a clear plan ahead of you, and an understanding of what steps will need to be taken to defend your case (or to plead Guilty as the case may be).

So what exactly is involved in defending a criminal charge? Well, that depends on the type of charge, but the prosecution must prove every element of each charge. You as the Accused do not have to prove anything. However, if the Police have some reasonably strong evidence against you (even if it is purely circumstantial), good criminal defence lawyers look for every opportunity to cast doubt on aspects of the prosecution case. If once all the evidence has been heard there is sufficient doubt such that a Magistrate or Judge is not able to find guilt beyond reasonable doubt, then you will be acquitted (found to be not guilty of the offence).

Call our Experienced Criminal Defence Lawyers

Our experienced criminal defence lawyers will be happy to discuss your options with you – call us on (02) 9533 2269.

 Criminal Defence Lawyers Sydney

Drink Driving Lawyers

If you have been charged with a PCA offence (prescribed concentration of alcohol in the blood) – colloquially known as drink driving, then you are probably looking for drink driving lawyers to assist you.

Drink Driving Lawyers

Drink Driving Lawyers

from our team are experienced in all facets of the law as it relates to offences of drink driving.  They will advise you on how you can achieve the best possible outcome in the circumstances of your case.

Whether you have been charged with Low Range, Mid Range, or High Range PCA, there is often a good deal of scope for arguing that your penalty should be less than would be imposed if the Magistrate knows nothing about you.  Only an experienced drink driving lawyer will be able to canvass all necessary information with you so as to maximise your prospects of achieving a good result, and can expertly argue on your behalf so as to convince the Magistrate that your circumstances are deserving of some leniency.

A driver’s licence is important to almost all of us, and minimising the disqualification period is something that only an experience driving driving lawyer can do well.  Fines can also be significantly reduced if the right case is put forward to the Magistrate.

Circumstances that Drink Driving Lawyers Can Put Forward on Your Behalf:

There are numerous aspects of both the circumstances in which the offence arose, your history (criminal and traffic history, or lack of either may be relevant), and your personal circumstances generally, that can be taken into account by a Magistrate when determining the appropriate sentence or penalty. Experienced drink driving lawyers are used to eliciting from you the most pertinent information, and presenting the most important factors in the best possible light.

Call Drink Driving Lawyers – (02) 9533 2269

If you have been caught and charged with a PCA (drink driving) offence, call one of our experienced criminal solicitors to discuss your particular circumstances.

Our drink driving lawyers can help you.

 

Mental Health Outcomes in Criminal Matters (Section 32 Application)

Mental Health and the Criminal Law

If you suffer from a mental illness, condition or disorder, or a developmental disability, and you have been charged with a criminal offence, you may possibly be eligible for a section 32 application under the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act.

Arguments Pursuant to Mental Health Legislation:

Mental Health Criminal Solicitor - Section 32 - Mental Health LawyerMental Health legislation in New South Wales provides for the opportunity for some people who commit offences to bypass the criminal justice system.

Unfit for Trial

This may be because a person is so mentally unwell that they are unfit to be tried (an argument available in the District and Supreme Courts). or

Local Court Mental Health Outcome

In some circumstances, if a person is suffering from a mental illness, condition or disorder (or is developmentally disabled) on the facts alleged it may be more appropriate to deal with the person in accordance with the provisions of the Mental Health legislation rather than according to law (an argument available only in the Local Court).

Special Verdicts – Not Guilty by Reason of Mental Illness

Special verdicts of not guilty by reason of mental illness are also available if a person is fit to plead and is then tried (in the District and Supreme Courts).

Detention in a Forensic Mental Health Facility

Being found to be unfit to plead, or being found not guilty by reason of mental illness, will both result in the person being detained in a mental health facility.

Mental Health Discretion in Criminal Matters in the Local Court

The Local Court, however, has a wide discretion available to it to discharge a person into the community, usually on condition of compliance with a specific treatment plan, where a Magistrate is of the view that it is more appropriate to have a person treated for their illness, condition or disorder as opposed to imposing criminal sanctions, penalties and sentences.

Criminal Charges in the Local Court – Mental Health Considerations

Section 32 Applications - Criminal Solicitor Sydney - Criminal Lawyers Mental HealthIf you are facing a criminal offence in the Local Court, and you suffer from a mental illness of any description, or suspect that you may suffer from a mental illness but have never been to a doctor who has made a diagnosis, make sure you advise your criminal Solicitor of this.

Section 32 Application or Other Relevant Mental Health Considerations

Experienced criminal advocates will advise you as to whether or not an application should properly be made to the Court to deal with you pursuant to the Mental Health legislation. This is known as a Section 32 Application, under s.32 Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act.

Even if you do not fit the criteria for a section 32 Application, your mental health issues may still have some relevance to the Court when determining how to construct your sentence.

Making a Successful Section 32 Application

Making a section 32 Application to the Court can be tricky. There are 2 discrete aspects to it. The first is whether the person charged fits the criteria to enable the Magistrate to deal with the matter pursuant to this diversionary measure, and the second is whether the person charged should be dealt with in that way (and this depends on a number of factors, including the nature of the offence, the relationship of the illness to the offending behaviour, subjective matters and so on). This is not an area of law where the person charged should attempt to represent him or herself.  It requires a detailed understanding of this area of the law.

Our mental health criminal solicitors have made numerous successful section 32 applications, as well as other types of applications relating to mental health conditions as they may relate to criminal offences, and are very experienced with dealing with these types of matters

so call us on (02) 9533 2269 and ask about your options.

Criminal Solicitor – Drink Driving

Drink Driving Solicitor

One of the most common offences that criminal solicitors deal with is drink driving. As you may know, the majority of these offences are not committed by hardened criminals. More often than not, they are regular people like you, who have had a few drinks on the way home and they happened upon the breathalyzer tests that are randomly being conducted by officers that patrol the roads.

Criminal Solicitor You may even have felt that you had all your wits about you and were not “over the limit” but it is very easy to exceed the legal limit of alcohol concentration in the blood, and as you may already have discovered, if you have broken the law, you will be arrested and charged, and now are facing a Court appearance.

There are, for fully licensed drivers in New South Wales, three levels of prescribed concentration of alcohol in the blood, classified as low range, mid range or high range. Those that are found to be in the low range will generally have less severe outcomes (which include fines and loss of licence for a specified period) than those that are in the higher ranges. Aggravating factors (which will increase the level of penalty you can expect to receive) include being involved in an accident, casualties, speeding and other types of reckless driving, or even more minor driving infringements such as failing to give way on a roundabout.

Criminal Solicitor for Drink Driving Offences

Many people think that drink driving is a traffic offence. It is not. It is a criminal offence, which is why you need a criminal solicitor. This type of law is actually quite complex and you will need an expert to explain to you all your options and to help you get the best outcome possible. Perhaps one of the most important factors you should consider when looking for a criminal lawyer is the experience they have in this area. This can mean the difference between coming out with a criminal record or not, or the difference between a 3 year disqualification or 12 months, or the difference between imprisonment or a fine, or even the difference between a $3,000 fine or a much lower amount.

Call (02) 9533 2269 to speak to a Criminal Solicitor Sydney today.

Drink Driving Charges

Criminal Lawyers Sydney for Drink Driving Charges

Criminal Lawyers Sydney for Drink Driving ChargesMost people never even consider the possibility of needing the services of criminal lawyers Sydney, until they are arrested and charged for an offence, the most common of which in many areas of Sydney are drink driving charges. You may have always considered yourself a responsible citizen who would never commit or offence, or compromise your life or the lives of other people by operating a vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol.

Well, most people underestimate the amount of alcohol they have consumed, or miscalculate the period over which they have had it, or just plain don’t think. Most people know that if they have a blood alcohol concentration that exceeds the legal limit of .05 blood alcohol concentration, then they can be in serious trouble.  And yet scores of otherwise sensible people do commit these crimes every day.

The consequence if this is you – you have probably been charged with drink driving and are looking for a criminal defence lawyer to advise you and ideally to appear for you in Court.

If you came to the attention of police via any circumstances other than a random breath testing, the charge could be viewed more seriously, and you would be well advised to call criminal lawyers Sydney earlier rather than later. All types of drink driving charges are treated seriously by the Courts, but especially if the drink driving is accompanied by speeding or other types of traffic offences, or worse still, an accident, since these are considered to be aggravating factors, which increase the seriousness of the offence.

Criminal Lawyers Sydney for Drink Driving Charges – Your Court Appearance

When you appear in Court, you have the option to either represent yourself, or to be represented by a drink driving lawyer with expertise in the technicalities of criminal law as it relates to drink driving, to help you get the best outcome possible.

Criminal lawyers Sydney – a team of experienced professionals whose main objective is to ensure that you receive the lowest punishment or penalty possible in your particular circumstances, are experienced in drink driving charges – so call us on (02) 9533 2269.

Drink Driving Penalties

Drink Driving PenaltiesDrink Driving penalties are a relatively complex area of the criminal law. To begin with, there are several offences that come under the drink driving offences umbrella. For fully licensed drivers, there are three drink driving offences – low range PCA (prescribed concentration of alcohol), mid range PCA and high range PCA. But different penalties apply if you are charged with a second (or third or more) offence within a five year period.

In addition, there is the less common offence of Driving Under the Influence, which adds another range of penalties.

So there are basically seven different ranges of penalties that may apply to a fully licensed driver who is charged with a drink driving offence.

Refusing a breath test and refusing breath analysis also attract penalties within the drink driving sphere.

Lastly, there are also different categories and penalties that apply to drivers who are not fully licensed.

So if you have been charged with any of these offences, you would do well to seek the expert advice of a drink driving lawyer.

Drink Driving Penalties:

OFFENCE FIRST OFFENCE (Within 5 years) SUBSEQUENT OFFENCE (Previously convicted of offence within 5 years)
High Range PCA 0.15 and over Fine: $3,300 Imprisonment: 18 mths ADP: 3 yrs MDP: 12 mths Fine: $5,500 Imprisonment: 2 yrs ADP: 5 yrs MDP: 2 yrs
Mid Range PCA 0.08 – under 0.15 Fine: $2,200 Imprisonment: 9 mths ADP: 12 mths MDP: 6 mths Fine: $3,300 Imprisonment: 12 mths ADP: 3 yrs MDP: 12 mths
Low Range PCA 0.05 – under 0.08 Fine: $1,100 ADP: 6 mths MDP: 3 mths Fine: $2,200 ADP: 12 mths MDP: 6 mths
Special Range PCA 0.02  – under 0.05 Fine: $1,100 ADP: 6 mths MDP: 3 mths Fine: $2,200 ADP: 12 mths MDP: 6 mths
Novice Range PCA 0.00 – under 0.02 Fine: $1,100 ADP: 6 mths MDP: 3 mths Fine: $2,200 ADP: 12 mths MDP: 6 mths
Driving under the   influence Fine: $2,200 Imprisonment: 9 mths ADP: 12 mths MDP: 6 mths Fine: $3,300 Imprisonment: 12 mths ADP: 3 yrs MDP: 12 mths
Refuse Breath Test Fine: $1,100 No ADP or MDP. Court may disqualify   as it sees fit.  There is no designated First or Subsequent Offence so the same penalties apply – i.e. Fine $1,100 No ADP or MDP. Court may disqualify   as it sees fit.
Refuse Breath   Analysis Fine: $3,300 Imprisonment: 18 mths ADP: 3 yrs MDP: 12 mths Fine: $5,500 Imprisonment: 24 mths ADP: 5 yrs MDP: 2 years

Drink Driving Penalties – Fines, Imprisonment, Disqualification

As you can see, drink driving penalties attract fines (and/or imprisonment periods) as well as periods of disqualification from driving. Most of these offences carry an automatic disqualification period, and some also carry a minimum disqualification period. The automatic disqualification period may in certain circumstances be reduced (or increased) by a Court. Minimum disqualification is self explanatory – a Court has no discretion to, and cannot, reduce it, although a longer disqualification period can, and often is, imposed as part of the drink driving penalties determined by a Court.

 

Should You Make a Bail Application?

Criminal Lawyer - Bail ApplicationMaking a Bail Application

If you or a friend or loved one have been arrested and charged with criminal offences and refused bail by the Police, then you might think that the most important first step is to apply for Bail by making a Bail application to the Court.

Well, not so fast.

It may be in your interests to make an application for Bail during your first Court appearance, and depending on the circumstances you may indeed be more likely to be granted Bail by a Court.

But exercise caution before you take the step of making a Bail application.

Why is that?  Well, if you apply for Bail and do not succeed – i.e. the Magistrate denies Bail – then you cannot make another Bail application unless you can demonstrate some change of circumstances.

You May Only Get One Chance at Bail

In the past, accused persons could make as many Bail applications as they liked, and the Courts often heard a Bail application every time an accused person appeared before the Court.  Not so any more.  You need to be very circumspect when deciding to apply for Bail without putting all pertinent information before the Court in a coherent and logical fashion. If you do so, you run the risk of being locked up on remand until your matter is finalised, which could be weeks or even months away if you are defending the matter.

Of course, there is always the option of making a Supreme Court bail application if your application for bail has been refused by the Local Court. However, the current wait time between making an application to the Supreme Court and having the bail application heard by that Court is approximately 6 weeks.

Legal Aid for Bail Applications

All persons going before a Court when they are in custody are entitled to a Legal Aid Duty Lawyer who will appear for you and, if so instructed, will make a Bail application on your behalf.  Most of these Legal Aid lawyers are very competent and experienced in seeking Bail for clients. Legal Aid lawyers are sometimes slightly rushed due to high workloads, so you do need to be very careful that you give your lawyer all relevant information.

If the Legal Aid Duty Lawyer advises you not to apply for Bail because more information needs to be presented to the Court – listen, and take that advice, even if you then have to pay for a private criminal lawyer to make a considered and complete Bail application on your behalf at a later date.

Private Lawyer for Your Bail Application

If for any reason you are not confident in the Legal Aid Duty Lawyer and you would prefer to be privately represented, then Criminal Lawyers Sydney are often available at short notice to appear for you.

Call (02) 9533 2269 for advice on Bail Application representation.

Children’s Court

In NSW, the Children’s Court sits in three courthouses specifically designated for the Court. These courthouses are located at Parramatta, Glebe (known as Bidura Children’s Court) and Broadmeadow.

The Children’s Court is a specialist court to deal with criminal cases, applications for apprehended violence orders, as well as other matters concerning children.

The Children’s Court also sits at courts located at Campbelltown, Port Kembla, Sutherland, Nowra, Woy Woy and Wyong on a permanent basis.

In regional and rural areas outside these locations the Children’s Court sits on a regular basis. At these locations the sittings of the Children’s Court usually coincide with the sittings of the Local Court and are conducted by Local Court Magistrates.

Children’s Magistrates

There are 13 specialist Children’s Magistrates, who are appointed for periods of up to five years. Children’s Magistrates are selected from the general pool of Magistrates appointed having regard to their knowledge, qualifications, skills and experience in dealing with children, young people and their families.

Non-Children’s Magistrates

Children’s Court cases are dealt with by Local Court Magistrates in locations where a specialist Children’s Magistrate is not available.

Serious Criminal Offences Committed by Children and Young Persons

Not all cases involving children are dealt with in the Children’s Court. Matters that are “strictly indictable” – i.e. would not be heard in the Local Court if an adult committed the offence – are not heard in the Children’s Court. The Children’s Court hears the committal proceedings initially, but the matter is then transferred to the District Court or Supreme Court, where the child or young person will be tried as an adult. The age of the offender, will, however, be taken into account as a relevant factor if the offender pleads, or is found, guilty.

Criminal Matters Heard in the Children’s Court

The Children’s Court deals with the following types of criminal cases across NSW involving children and young people:

  • Criminal cases in which the defendants were under 18 years of age at the time of the alleged offence.
  • Traffic cases where the defendant is not old enough to hold a driver’s licence or permit, or where the Children’s Court is already dealing with other related criminal offences.
  • Applications for Apprehended Violence Orders where the defendant is under 18 years of age.
  • Breaches of parole and in some cases the eligibility of children and young persons for release on parole.

How Does the Children’s Court Process Work?

When a child or young person is charged by police with an offence they are provided with a Court Attendance Notice indicating the details of the offence, the location, the date and time the case will be listed before the Children’s Court. Usually the case is listed about three weeks ahead. However, if the police have refused bail the case will be listed as soon as possible, usually the same or the next day.

On the first day the child or young person will have the opportunity to obtain legal advice about their case from the Legal Aid/Children’s Legal Services duty lawyer. If after obtaining legal advice the child or young person enters a plea of guilty the magistrate may impose a penalty on the same day. However, sometimes the magistrate will adjourn the case to obtain a background report from Juvenile Justice to assist them in determining the most appropriate penalty.

If a plea of not guilty is entered, the case will be adjourned for the police to prepare and serve a ‘brief of evidence’. This will include statements from witnesses and other material the police are going to rely on to prove that the offence has been committed by the child or young person.

If, after the evidence is served, the young person maintains his or her plea of not guilty, the court will adjourn the matter for a defended hearing where witnesses will give evidence and the magistrate will make a decision whether the child or young person is guilty or not guilty of the alleged offence.

What Types of Orders Can be Made by the Children’s Court?

If the magistrate determines that the child or young person is not guilty of the offence the case will be dismissed.

If the magistrate determines that the child or young person is guilty there are different types of penalties that can be imposed depending on the seriousness of the offence and the circumstances of the child or young person including any previous criminal record.

The types of orders that the Children’s Court can impose when a child or young person is found guilty of an offence are:

  • dismissal with or without a caution
  • caution
  • fine
  • good behaviour bond
  • probation order
  • community services order
  • control order (which may be suspended depending upon the circumstances) placing the child or young person in detention.

 

All children and young persons are entitled to representation by Legal Aid/Children’s Legal Services. There is no charge for this representation. However, if you require private representation for a criminal matter in the Children’s Court, call Criminal Lawyers Sydney on (02) 9533 2269.