First Offence Penalties
It is a common misconception that summary offences are somehow not criminal offences. This is not the case. They are criminal offences that are dealt with and finalised in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.
What Penalty Will I Get for A Summary Offence?
There are many penalties available to the Court in sentencing for a summary offence. These penalties include imprisonment for some offences. They may also include an adjourned undertaking, a monetary fine or a community correction order.
There may also be a separate question as to whether your licence will be disqualified or whether you will be convicted or not.
Is It Possible to Avoid a Criminal Conviction or Criminal Record for a Summary Offence?
Yes, but only in particular circumstances.
Every offence that you are found guilty of or enter a plea of guilty to in the Magistrates’ Court will appear on your criminal record. The Magistrate has a discretion as to whether the offence will be with or without a conviction. This may be an important distinction for employment opportunities or your capacity to travel to other countries.
There may also be the possibility of diversion. Diversion programs are a way to deal with your case out of the court system and for you to avoid having a criminal record altogether. They are usually only available to people who have no prior criminal history and where the offence is relatively minor. The prosecution must agree that your case is suitable for diversion.
If you are seeking diversion it is very important to contact one of the experienced solicitors at Armstrong Legal to commence liaising with the Victoria Police as soon as practicable.
Do I Need to Attend Court?
Your summons (charge sheet) should include the date, time and place that you will need to attend Court. The summons is also likely to have a box ticked as to whether “you should go to court” or, whether “you must go to court”.
The police officer may also have told you that you do not really need to attend.
However, in our experience, you will not receive as good a result from the Court if you do not attend as if you do attend. In our view, it is important to attend the Court to demonstrate to the Magistrate that you understand the seriousness of the matter.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
It is your choice whether to represent yourself or whether to have a solicitor represent you in Court. If you are worried about the penalty that you may receive for your offence, we would advise having a solicitor represent you. For someone who is unfamiliar with the Court system, having to navigate a criminal charge can be daunting. Our solicitors specialise in these matters and will use their experience and expertise to lead you through the process to the best possible outcome.