Preparing for Court
What can I do to get the best result in court?
For all criminal matters:
- Obtain effective character references
- Engage Armstrong Legal to act for you
For drug matters:
- Receive drug counselling if you have a drug problem
- Participate in the MERIT program
- Complete a Traffic Offender Program (drug driving offenders only)
For assault matters:
- Complete a course in anger management
- Receive alcohol counselling if you have an alcohol problem
- Agree to a final AVO if one is being sought
Obtain effective character references
In our experience, a well drafted court character reference can have an impact upon the sentence that is imposed by the court. We believe that a court character reference must paint a picture of your character. If your character references don’t help you stand out from the other offenders in court then you will be dealt with just like all the other cases. Most court character references make statements like this “James Brown is hardworking, energetic and generous with his time and money”. We believe that these references have very little impact upon the sentence imposed by the Court. As some magistrates comment “I have never read a bad character reference.” But by the use of examples, illustrations and stories a referee can bring your character to life.
Engage Armstrong Legal to act for you
Armstrong Legal has a team of criminal lawyers who specialise in representing clients charged with criminal offences. These lawyers appear daily before the Local Courts in New South Wales. The team includes two accredited specialists in Criminal Law.
What this means for you:
- Your lawyer will know the magistrate and how best to approach them
- Your lawyer has specialist knowledge as to what penalties and orders to ask for
- Your lawyer knows what to say and more importantly what not to say
Specific recommendations for drug offenders
Receive drug counselling
It is common practise where an offender has a number of drug related offences on their record for a magistrate to question the offender as to whether they have a drug problem. If you do have a drug problem it is wise to have drug counselling to help you abstain from drugs. Under the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act the court must take into account your attempts to rehabilitate yourself when imposing a sentence.
Participate in the Merit Program
MERIT (Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment) is a program based in Local Courts in New South Wales that provides the opportunity for adult offenders who have drug problems to work, on a voluntary basis, towards rehabilitation as part of the bail process. MERIT Teams, based in NSW Health conduct the assessment of participants. Based on the assessment, you may be accepted into MERIT to receive targeted drug treatment. The MERIT treatment program will be developed to match your individual needs. The Court will make your involvement in MERIT a condition of bail.
Participants are closely case-managed by the MERIT Team throughout the program and the Magistrate receives regular reports on your progress. The final hearing and sentence generally coincide with the completion of the MERIT program. Magistrates are then able to consider your progress in treatment as part of final sentencing. It is our experience that participants who commit to the program receive a marked discount in the penalty imposed.
Complete a Traffic Offender Program (Drug driving offenders only)
Completing a Traffic Offender Program demonstrates to the magistrate that you are serious about improving your driving behaviour. The Traffic Offenders Program is designed to increase peoples understanding of their social obligations, particularly where they relate to traffic laws. When sentencing a drug driving offender, a magistrate may take into account any changes of attitude displayed since you attended the traffic offender program The course is for normally 7 or 8 weeks, one day per week for approximately 2 hours.
Specific recommendations for assault offenders
Complete a course in anger management
Completing a course or counselling sessions in anger management demonstrates to the court that you are serious about ensuring that you will not commit similar offences in the future. Upon completion of the course you should obtain a report from the organisation providing the counselling/training. We also recommend that you write a letter to the court indicating what you have learnt from the counselling/training.
Receive alcohol counselling if you have an alcohol problem
It is common practice where an offender has a number of alcohol related offences on their record for a Magistrate to question the offender as to whether they have an alcohol problem. If you do have an alcohol problem it is wise to have alcohol counselling to help you abstain from alcohol or reduce your alcohol intake. Under the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act the court must take into account your attempts to rehabilitate yourself when imposing a sentence.
Agree to a final apprehended violence order
If you are pleading guilty to an assault offence and the victim of the assault (or the police on their behalf) is seeking an apprehended domestic violence order, the court is duty bound to make an order except in some limited circumstances. So it is in your interests to agree to the making of an order that the court is likely to make anyway. It demonstrates to the court that you are keen to ensure that the victim is adequately protected in the future.
WHERE TO NEXT?
If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.