Successful District Court Appeal Keeps Client Out of Prison
A 53 year old man from Canley Heights called our firm after he was convicted and sentenced to 1 year and 3 months prison in Liverpool Local Court when represented by another criminal law firm.
He had pleaded 'not guilty' to 'armed with intent to commit an indictable offence', 'resisting arrest' and 'common assault'.
He had prior convictions for assault and intimidation.
The present charges arose when he allegedly charged at his neighbour with a large meat cleaver and swung it towards his head up to eight times, missing him by just centimetres, then pursuing him for a further 15 metres before the man got away.
Police were called and our client allegedly struggled while being arrested.
His local court hearing lasted nearly a full day and he was found guilty.
He called our firm approximately one week after he lodged an appeal against his conviction.
In accordance with our practice, we obtained all 'transcripts' of the Local Court proceedings - which contain everything said during the Local Court hearing.
Transcripts are very important because District Court appeals against conviction are almost exclusively based upon what is contained in the Local Court transcripts.
Our Defence Team reviewed the 'police brief of evidence' (which are the witness statements etc gathered by police earlier-on) and the transcripts, and came to the firm view that his hearing was prepared and conducted poorly, and that his prospects of defeating the conviction were therefore slim.
It also became abundantly clear that, due to the witness statements against him, his lawyers should have negotiated less-serious charges and advised their client to plead guilty, rather than taking the case all the way to a defended hearing.
We provided our client with detailed and open advice about his prospects on appeal.
That advice was essentially that we should focus on keeping him out of prison by pushing for a more lenient penalty (which is called a 'severity appeal') rather than trying to get the verdict of 'not guilty' overturned altogether (called a 'conviction appeal').
Our client accepted that advice and agreed to see a counsellor for 'anger management'.
We met with him and his family several times in the lead-up to his court date.
We gathered a range of favourable materials including a counselling report, employment records and various references.
No such work had been undertaken for him previously.
We argued his case before the Judge in Parramatta District Court, who was then persuaded to overturn our client's sentence of imprisonment and instead gave him a 15 month 'suspended sentence' - which means that he stays out of prison and can get on with his life.
Our client and his family were very pleased and relieved about the outcome.
Client found Not Guilty of Recklessly Causing Grievous Bodily Harm
A distressed young man contacted us on Saturday afternoon advising that his current lawyer was suddenly unavailable for his defended hearing which was listed in court for the following Tuesday, three days later.
He was all the more concerned because the case was very serious, involving 'grievous bodily harm', and his lawyer had been involved from the start.
The specific allegation was that he had punched the alleged victim (or 'the complainant') several times to the head fracturing his eye socket and causing permanent injury.
The complainant was hospitalised for several days and titanium plates had to be inserted into his head, which amounts to 'grievous bodily harm'.
The case was one of self-defence.
We organised to receive the large brief of materials and to meet with the young man at our offices the next day, Sunday.
We took the time to carefully read through all materials and to explain the issues and procedure.
He eagerly engaged our services.
Our team of Senior Lawyers met early the next morning to discuss defence strategy and a further conference was organised with our client that afternoon.
We were then ready to defend the case without exposing our client to unnecessary further costs or delays by applying to adjourn the case, which may not have been allowed in any event.
In court, the complainant was cross-examined at length and various inconsistencies were exposed between his testimony and other evidence, including his earlier police statements.
The cross-examination made it clear that, at the very least, the complainant had poor and unreliable recall of the actual events.
The tactical decision was then made to consent to the admission of other prosecution statements which became beneficial for our purposes. This meant that those witnesses were not required for cross-examination.
We also secured the significant concession that our client's police interview raised the possibility of self-defence.
This meant that we did not need to call our client to the witness stand and expose him to cross-examination by the prosecutor.
The court then accepted our argument that there was a 'reasonable possibility' that our client had acted in self-defence .
Accordingly, he was found 'not guilty' and the case was dismissed.
Good Behaviour Bond for Using Pistol on Security Staff at Hotel
Our client is a serving member of the Australian armed forces.
He attended Sydney Olympic Park with a group of friends at around 11am to watch a sporting event, and drank several beers over the course of the day.
The group later caught taxis to a Sydney Hotel, where our client was refused entry due to his level of intoxication.
He left and later returned wielding a loaded pistol and threatening to shoot Security Staff.
The incident was captured on CCTV footage and he was quickly located and arrested.
His home was then subjected to a search, during which police located several additional prohibited weapons.
He was charged with a total of 7 weapons and firearms offences.
He made full admissions to police.
He later contacted our firm and we managed to have 3 of the 7 charges withdrawn within a very short space of time.
We referred our client to a respected psychologist, and he diligently attended counselling to address underlying stress and anxiety.
Significantly, we persuaded the prosecution to allow the case to remain in the Local Court rather than going up to the District Court - which would normally be expected.
This was important because the maximum penalty in the District Court for the most serious offence involving the pistol is 14 years imprisonment, whereas it is 2 years in the Local Court.
That offence also carries a 'standard non parole period' of 3 years imprisonment in the District Court, but no such period applies in the Local Court.
We helped him to gather a range helpful materials including character references, information about the likely impact on his career and a positive psychological report.
We carefully prepared and powerfully presented his case before the Magistrate in Downing Centre Local Court who was persuaded to deal with 3 out of the 4 charges without conviction.under 'section 10' of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.
The Magistrate imposed a 12 month good behaviour bond under 'section 9' for the most serious charge.
Our client had expected to go to prison, but is now free to get on with his life.
Client Avoids Conviction After Assaulting Bus Driver
Our client was charged with 'Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm' after wrestling a bus driver to the ground and then striking him to the stomach, legs and arms causing bruising and abrasions.
The incident occurred way back on 8th October 2013 when our client took offence to a bus driver parking opposite his house.
He approached and entered the bus and then wrestled the driver out onto the footpath.
The incident was captured on CCTV footage and witnessed by members of the public, who gave statements to police.
After charges were pressed, our client approached another criminal law firm who advised him that he may have a legal defence - which was manifestly incorrect.
Sadly, our client was charged thousands of dollars during the course of the proceedings, and then told on the day before the hearing that his lawyer was busy elsewhere and could not attend.
He called us at 8.45am on the morning of the hearing, and our team did everything we could to ensure he was looked after.
After reviewing the materials and footage, and obtaining our client's instructions, it became abundantly clear that he did not have a valid legal defence (our client had already suspected that this was the case).
We ensured that an experienced lawyer attended Parramatta Local Court that morning, and did what should have been done a year earlier - successfully persuading the prosecutor to downgrade the charge of 'Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm' to the less-serious charge of 'Common Assault' and amending the police 'facts' so that the case was much less serious.
Our client then entered a plea of guilty to the lesser charge, and the Magistrate was persuaded to grant him a 'section 10'. This means that he avoids a criminal conviction altogether - which is what he wanted from the start.
Not Guilty of Affray and Common Assault
The Magistrate has found our 27 year old client 'not guilty' of Affray and Common Assault after a full-day hearing in Downing Centre Local Court.
Our client is a serving officer of the Australian Defence Force and was a member of the Special Forces when he attended the Fox Hole Hotel, Sydney with his brother on a Saturday night and consumed several alcoholic drinks.
The pair later left the Hotel and attempted to gain entry into The Office Hotel, but were refused.
It is alleged that our client then told the Security Officer to 'fuck off' and pushed him in the chest, causing him to step backwards. The Security Officer allegedly said 'go back across the road where you came from'.
It is alleged that the pair then got into a fight with a number of other males, during which our client punched one of the males in the temple causing him to fall to the ground and lose consciousness.
Our client was identified as the assailant by three people - the alleged victim, the Hotel Manager and a Security officer. All gave statements to police and identified our client from CCTV footage and photoboards.
Arresting police then made a telephone call to the Australian Defence Force, which resulted in our client being demoted.
All prosecution witnesses attended court hearing and gave evidence that they were certain our client was responsible.
However, through careful analysis of additional CCTV footage and thorough preparation our defence team was able to persuade the Magistrate that the prosecution could not rebut the possibility that our client was acting in reasonable defence of his brother; which is called 'third party self-defence'.
All charges were therefore dismissed and our client will now be seeking reinstatement to the Special Forces.