You've been charged with domestic violence related offences? What now?
Have you been charged with an offence relating to domestic violence? If so, before you make a decision about what plea you will enter, you need to make sure you understand the nature of the charges against you and what options are available to you. Be aware there can be unexpected consequences that come along with a criminal conviction. It is important to get legal advice early, so that you can make an informed decision.
If you are charged with a domestic violence related offence, the police are, in most cases, obliged to make an application for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO). The application will ultimately be heard in court with the criminal charges, but the police can issue you with a provisional ADVO. This means that until your first court date, you will be subject to the conditions imposed on the provisional ADVO. The conditions will vary from case to case.
Going to court
Before you get to court, you will ordinarily receive a copy of the charges along with the ADVO application. Sometimes the police will also give you the statement of facts, but sometimes you may not receive these until the first court date. The ADVO application will have a summary of the facts that the police rely on which will give you an idea of their case against you. In most cases, what’s known as a mini-brief will be provided to you after the first mention, which has the main parts of the evidence the police will rely on.
At the first mention, the court will ask you whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty. It is recommended that you seek legal advice before making this decision. You should also be aware that you can ask the court for an adjournment so you can get legal advice, but this will probably only be for 14 days.
What happens if I want to plead guilty?
Before making any decisions, it is wise to get some legal advice – give us a call.
It is important to read the statement of facts carefully. Why? Because if you enter a plea of guilty, this is the document the court will take into account when deciding what your sentence will be.
If you want to plead guilty, but you disagree with some of the things in the police facts, you can make representations to the police to amend the facts. The lawyers at Kingston Fox Lawyers can provide advice to you about your individual matter and make representations to the police on your behalf.
After you agree to the facts, it will be provided to the court. During your sentence hearing, your lawyer will provide the court with any explanation you may have for the offence occurring and information about you that is relevant to the court when considering sentence.
What happens if I want to plead not guilty?
If you plead not guilty, orders will be made for the brief of evidence to be served and a hearing date will be set. It is important you contact a lawyer if you wish to plead not guilty. The court process can be tough and is unfamiliar. Your lawyer will appear in court on your behalf. Your lawyer can also advise you if there is further material you can prepare or obtain to assist your case.
What happens during the hearing?
During the hearing, the police witnesses will give evidence. this will include the victim. You and other defence witnesses may also give evidence. The prosecution will then make submissions to the court about why the court should find you guilty. You or your lawyer will then make submissions about why you should not be found guilty. If you are found not guilty, your case will be dismissed, but if you are found guilty, the court will decide your sentence either at the time or on a later date.
How will I be sentenced if found guilty?
After weighing up a number of factors including the details of the offence, its seriousness, your plea, your criminal history if you have one, and the likelihood that you will re-offend, you will be sentenced. This could range from a fine all the way to imprisonment.
If an application for an ADVO had been made by police, in most cases, the court will make a final order. It is important to keep in mind that any breach of an ADVO is itself, a criminal offence with serious consequences.
If you require assistance with domestic violence related charges, contact our friendly team of experienced criminal lawyers today at firstname.lastname@example.org by phone on 0455 039 660 or 0455 039 707.
This information is provided as a general guide only and does not constitute legal advice.