Yes! Whether you have been charged with a crime or are being investigated by Police, or if you are just uncertain and want legal advice, it is absolutely essential that you speak to an experienced criminal lawyer. When you engage a lawyer, not only can you get good guidance and advice, but it also takes an enormous amount of stress off your shoulders.
Think about it this way – if you were sick and needed an operation, you wouldn’t try to perform your own surgery would you? The law can be a minefield and more often than not, people who try to work it out for themselves create more problems in the long run.
There can be massive differences in quality between lawyers. However, the difference often does not lie in one lawyer being smarter or tougher or more talented; more often than not, the difference will be the amount of time that a lawyer devotes to preparing a case.
Unfortunately, a lot of people charged with criminal offences become fixated on the court hearing stage of proceedings, because that’s where results are usually given. But what is frequently overlooked is that most of the result comes down to the quality of the preparation before court. The better the preparation, the better the result will be.
In criminal law, the legal fees will almost always vary from case-to-case. This is because there are often variables which affect a case – for example, if someone who is charged with sexual assault wants to plead not guilty and take the case to a trial, there is likely to be several court hearings. Conversely, if someone wants to plead guilty at the earliest opportunity, there may only be one court hearing. This is likely to result in a difference in legal fees.
At Josh Smith Legal, we try our best to give an overall cost estimate for the entire case right at the beginning so that our clients have certainty about what their legal fees will be and what they are paying for. We also quote legal fees upfront to avoid a situation where a client receives a big bill at the end of their case which they were not expecting.
The answer to this depends on what type of criminal charges you are facing. However, all criminal charges in Victoria start off in the Magistrates Court – some remain there until they are finalised, whilst others will go to the County Court or Supreme Court to finalise.
Some examples of the different types of charges each court hears are:
- Magistrates Court: Most traffic charges, unlawful assault charges, certain drug charges, certain sex charges etc.
- County Court: Rape, commercial drug trafficking, culpable driving causing death etc.
- Supreme Court: Murder, manslaughter and treason.
Fortunately, in Victoria people have the option of appealing a result they disagree with.
Sometimes people charged with a crime will be found guilty when they are innocent – here, they have the option of appealing their conviction.
Other people may accept that they are guilty but feel that the penalty they received in court was too harsh – they have the option of appealing the sentence.
You can refer to our Appeal page for more information about this, including the strict time limits that apply to lodging appeals in court.
Yes, you can. Everyone who is charged with an offence and who is subsequently remanded into custody has the right to apply for bail, regardless of what the criminal charge is.
There are different tests which people applying for bail need to overcome depending on their criminal charges and their criminal history, but the bottom line is that anyone can apply for bail.
You can refer to our Bail page for more information on bail applications in Victoria.
Absolutely you should! One of the most common mistakes people make in criminal law is not getting legal advice before a police interview.
Another common mistake is when lawyers tell their clients to “just say no comment to all questions” in the interview. Whilst there are many times when a ‘no comment’ interview is the wise choice, there are also many other occasions when it is beneficial for people to make a comment in their interview. Each situation is different and each needs to be assessed individually.
The bottom line is that it always helps to get legal advice from experienced criminal lawyers before a police interview. The trick is to find a lawyer who won’t just give you the lazy advice, but who will spend time getting to know you and understand your legal situation so they can give considered and thorough advice on what to say and do in your interview and what your rights are in the interview.