The COVID 19 Pandemic and Crime

The legislative amendments, Public Health Orders and restrictions put in place by the NSW government in light of the COVID 19 pandemic mean that police are now issuing people with infringement notices and court attendance notices where they believe a law has been broken.

These legislative amendments, combined with the closure of certain businesses and restrictions placed on our day to day lives, has impacted the type of matters people are seeking our assistance for. Since the pandemic has taken hold and NSW have implemented its social distancing measures, many criminal lawyers have noticed a change in the charges which people are seeking assistance for.

Before the crisis hit, everyday people seeking assistance with drink driving charges were common. The same can be said about charges relating possession of drugs at music festivals or in the vicinity of licensed premises. Offences involving violence and/or intoxication in licensed premises were also a norm. While people are still being charged with these offences, it seems as if it’s occurring much less frequently – particularly with the complete shutdown of licensed premises and music festivals.

This apparent reduction in crime is undoubtedly a positive to emerge from the pandemic, however unfortunately not all crime has dropped. There have been reports of increased domestic violencecyber-crime or fraud offences. In our experience, domestic violence is sadly much too prevalent, all year round. However, in recent weeks we are seeing more people seek our services relating to apprehended violence orders and/or criminal charges. With people increasingly confined to their homes and in some cases facing significant financial or health stressors a rise in domestic violence, offending is sadly not unexpected.

We have experienced an increase in enquiries from people seeking assistance concerning domestic violence and associated matters, whether they are the ones that have been charged, are alleged victims or are seeking the protection of an apprehended violence order (AVO).

We have also experienced an increase in people seeking help with court dates during this time. We have been able to assist many by providing them with advice and liaising with the court to adjourn their matter without them needed to attend in person.

Here at Armstrong Legal have already received some enquiries in relation to infringement notices or court attendance notices. We expect to see many more as time goes one. A person issued with an infringement notice can elect to have the matter dealt with in court. It is important you obtain legal advice before electing to have the matter determined in court as doing so exposes you to the risk of a criminal conviction, increased fines and/or harsher penalties that can be as severe as imprisonment in some cases. If you have any questions arising from this article, or if you would like to speak to one of our lawyers you can reach us on 1300 038 223.

Author: Trudie Cameron

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