The Best Way to Navigate the Local Court

Thinking of Flying Solo?

The Local Court in New South Wales is the workhorse of the criminal justice system with around 90% of criminal matters starting and finishing in the Local Court. The Court deals with a diverse workload ranging from minor traffic incidents to serious drug and violence charges.

In interacting with the Court most people get a bum deal and settle for a bad result.

This article will give you the secret used by lawyers in the Local Court to get the best possible result.

When you are charged by Police you are supplied with a document titled the “Court Attendance Notice”. This will specific what you have been charged with and will provide you with a court date. This court date is called the “First Mention”.

At the First Mention, the accused will be asked whether they are going to plead guilty or plead not guilty to the charges. If the accused tells the Court that they want to plead guilty the matter will be put over for sentence and they will receive a 25% discount for the utilitarian discount for their plea. When the accused is sentenced; they will be sentenced for all the charges they have plead guilty and the facts of what will be in front of the Magistrate will be the same as those provided along with the Court Attendance Notice.

It is important to note that Police have limited legal training. When Police charge you they often will charge you with things that they cannot prove, or alternatively they will charge you with much more serious charges than they should. Police will often also include details in the facts that are unduly prejudicial, irrelevant and are misleading.

That is why pleading guilty at the First Mention is often the worst-case scenario and will almost always give you the worst result.

It is very important that you obtain some legal advice before entering a plea!

The secret known by Lawyers for getting the best result is that you can always negotiate.

Lawyer’s will almost always advise you to plead not guilty at the First Mention. The reason being that if you plead guilty Police are required to (except in traffic matters) to serve on you a brief of evidence. You can then obtain legal advice about what the Police can prove; and importantly your lawyer can negotiate the charges and facts with Police.

Negotiations, called “Representations”, take place by a lawyer sending a letter to the Commander of the Police Area Command; outlining the problems in the prosecution case and proposing a resolution by either withdrawing, all or some of the charges, and amending the facts that would be before the Magistrate. This process usually takes around 6 weeks.

If successful, you will achieve a better result on sentence. You will also be entitled to a full 25% discount for the utilitarian discount of your plea.

If unsuccessful, Representations may be used as part of an application for the Police to pay your legal costs if you are ultimately found not guilty. However, if you are convicted and sentenced you will not receive the full 25% discount.

Criminal matters, especially where negotiations are required, need an experienced criminal solicitor to get the best result.

At Green & Associates, we are experts in applying for no convictions; and have an excellent success rate in achieving this for our clients. Regardless of the charge, we are ready to be in your corner and assist you during this uncertain time. If you or someone you know needs assistance with a local court case, contact our office today.

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