Anastasia Qvist is an outstanding lawyer. My criminal law situation (family violence order) was difficult, complex and Ana's diligence saved me as I was going through the most difficult period of my life. Ana is down to earth, commonsense and she even kept our costs to a minimum. She is a skilled litigator and knows the ins and outs of the ACT Magistrates Court. She dealt skillfully with the DPP and is an excellent negotiator. You will get a fair representation and she genuinely cares about her clients. She has my complete recommendation. The lady goes to bat for her clients.
I would strongly recommend Anastasia to anyone who is seeking legal representation. As a first-time offender who was charged with a Level 2 Drink Driving offence, she walked me through every step of the matter and was very upfront and clear on all aspects of my case. She was always accessible when I needed advice. Her approach and advice were excellent. Under her representation, I received the best possible outcome and managed to avoid a criminal conviction. She was a pleasure to deal with throughout the whole matter.
Anastasia Qvist was very professional and helpful in every step of my matter. I got a very good outcome and I can’t thank you enough for your hard work and the Armstrong Legal team in Canberra. I would highly recommend her!!!
Throughout Angela has been the consummate professional. She maintained a calm, yet strong demeanour remained informative and completely open in her communication and took complete ownership of the situation. We felt confident we finally had an advocate to steer us out of the nightmare we were in, and she did so with great respect and sincerity. I cannot speak more highly of Angela. She has literally rescued our family from what looked very much like a hopeless future.
Words can’t describe how grateful I am to Trudie Cameron being my solicitor and to Andrew Tiedt presenting my case in the court. They both have been very supportive and amazingly professional and effective. I’ve got an absolutely fantastic outcome I couldn’t even dream about.
Soon after meeting Andrew I knew he was the solicitor I wanted to handle my matter. He immediately sprang into action which brought me stability and hope during a tumultuous time in my life. Andrew was never afraid to give me straight answers to my tough questions which is a true mark of integrity. He is clearly at ease in the court environment and I believe his calm and measured demeanour went a long way to helping me secure the best result from my day in court. I would certainly recommend you approach Andrew if you need assistance.
"Andrew Tiedt was very professional and considerate to personal circumstances and gave sound advice that resulted in the best outcome possible. Highly recommended."
Magistrates' Early Referral Into Treatment (MERIT) Program
The MERIT program is a diversion program that provides offenders who have a drug or alcohol dependency an opportunity to work towards rehabilitation as part of their bail process. If accepted into the program a drug treatment program is developed that matches the person’s needs and runs for approximately 3 months.
The MERIT Program is a voluntary program based in the Local Courts that you can apply for during the bail process. The primary goal of the program is to break the substance abuse-crime cycle by involving defendants in treatment and rehabilitation programs. It consists of two types: Drug MERIT and Alcohol MERIT. Drug MERIT is aimed at adult defendants who have illicit drug use problems. Alcohol MERIT is aimed at adult defendants who have alcohol abuse problems.
Why do the MERIT program?
Doing the MERIT program presents significant benefits including:
- Potentially leading to a lesser sentence
- Enabling you to improve your long-term quality of life
- Helping you break the cycle of drug-related crime.
Research into the program found that 97% of magistrates expressed the belief that participation in MERIT reduced the likelihood of further offending. When the magistrates were asked about the weight given at sentencing for satisfactory completion of the MERIT treatment program, most magistrates described satisfactory participation in MERIT as: “significant” (35.1%), “a great deal/ weight” (21.6%) or “considerable” (13.5%).
Participating in the MERIT program is not an easy option. You must be aware that it imposes onerous requirements on them. However, if you have a strong desire to address your drug or alcohol dependency, it is worth considering the MERIT program if you are eligible.
Am I eligible to participate in a MERIT program?
To be eligible, you must be:
- Suitable for release on bail
- An adult with a demonstrable illicit drug or alcohol problem
- Willing to consent to a treatment program
- Not involved in current or pending offences related to physical violence or sexual assault, or matters that will be heard in the District Court
- Deemed suitable for treatment and have a treatable problem
- Approved to participate in the program by the Magistrate
- (For drug MERIT) Appearing at the following Local Court: Albion Park, Ballina, Bankstown, Bathurst, Blacktown, Blayney, Broken Hill, Burwood, Byron Bay, Camden, Campbelltown, Casino, Cessnock, Coffs Harbour, Cooma, Downing Centre, Dubbo, Fairfield, Forbes, Gosford, Grafton, Hornsby, Junee, Katoomba, Kempsey, Kiama, Kogarah, Kyogle, Lismore, Liverpool, Maclean, Maitland, Manly, Milton, Mt Druitt, Mullimbimby, Murwillumbah, , Muswellbrook, Newcastle, Newtown, North Sydney, Nowra, Oberon, Orange, Parkes, Parramatta, Penrith, Port Kembla, Port Macquarie, Queanbeyan, Raymond Terrace, Ryde, Singleton, Sutherland, Tamworth, Toronto, Tweed Heads, Wagga Wagga, Wauchope, Waverley, Wellington, Wilcannia, Wollongong, Woy Woy or Wyong Local Courts
- (For Alcohol MERIT) Be appearing at: Bathurst, Broken Hill, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Manly, Orange, Wellington, Wilcannia, or Wollongong Local Courts.
What is involved in the MERIT Program?
If your application is successful you will attend an interview with the MERIT Team to assess the type of treatment suitable for them. The treatment may involve detoxification, Methadone and other pharmacotherapies, residential rehabilitation, individual and group counselling, case management or other forms of welfare support and assistance. Often the treatment is made as part of the bail condition.
There are 5 steps involved in the Program
You may be referred to the MERIT program before a formal plea is entered. A referral can be made by magistrates, police, or you or your lawyer.
Court proceedings will be adjourned while the MERIT team assesses whether you are suited to and would benefit from the program. The assessment is conducted by health teams assigned to participating NSW Local Courts. The assessment focuses on a broad range of areas such as substance use history, physical health, mental health, housing, education, and training and employment issues.
If you are not assessed as suitable for participation in MERIT, you will return to court and have your matter dealt with in the usual way. If you are assessed as suitable, you will return to the referral court and the Magistrate will impose a bail condition that you abide by the reasonable directions of the MERIT team. If you breach this condition or commit a further offence during the MERIT program the MERIT team may notify the court and you could be excluded from participating in the program.
Participation in a treatment program agreed to by you and your MERIT Caseworker usually lasts 3 months. During this time support and guidance is provided to you by a MERIT Caseworker. While on the program you must appear before the Magistrate usually at 6-week intervals. The MERIT team provides the court with progress updates.
Upon the conclusion of the program, you will return to court and enter a plea if you have not already done so. Magistrates are provided with a comprehensive report regarding participation in treatment. Where appropriate the report makes recommendations to assist you in maintaining and continuing their rehabilitation. If you are convicted the Magistrate will take into account your completion of the MERIT program in sentencing you.
Failure to respond to a drug treatment program will not be dealt with by punitive measures. If you are convicted any penalty will relate to that offence only and not to any failure to respond to treatment.
If you or any other relative are eligible for the MERIT program please call us for further assistance and representation.
- Reside as directed (maybe at an accommodation or residential rehabilitation service)
- Participate in individual, group, and/or family counselling
- Participate in educational or vocational assessments and programs
- Participate in health-related assessments or intervention
- Participate in recreational/leisure programs
- Submit to random urinalysis
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.
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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.
WHY CHOOSE ARMSTRONG LEGAL?
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