AVO Thrown Out of Court and Police Ordered to Pay Our Client's Legal Costs
Our client is a 51 year old man who owns a terrace style house in Surry Hills.
His neighbour (the 'protected person') is a 52 year female owner of a converted warehouse residence that has been under renovations for some years.
Police applied for an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) on behalf of the 'protected person' after she made numerous complaints including that:- our was constantly harassing and staring at her, yelled abuse at her, damaged one of her walls, dumped asbestos in her rear lane, repeatedly parked in her lane just outside her window etc.
Our legal team made it clear to police early-on in the case that those complaints had no evidentiary basis and were clearly frivolous and vexatious.
Police nevertheless went-ahead with the case and it eventually reached a defended hearing in Downing Centre Local Court.
During the hearing, our lawyers severely discredited the 'protected person' on the witness stand and made it abundantly clear that the AVO should never have been applied for in the first place.
The Magistrate dismissed the AVO and handed down a judgement that was extremely critical of police.
We then made an application for the officer in charge to pay our client's legal costs.
In NSW, section 99 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act severely restricts a defendant's ability to win costs against police in AVO cases.
Despite this, Her Honour ordered that the officer must pay all of our client's legal costs.
Our client is now considering pursuing additional avenues of complaint and compensation against both his neighbour and the police officer.
Drug Charges Thrown Out of Court
Our 26 year old client was charged with supplying 2.4 grams of cocaine, and a 'backup' charge of drug possession, after police located drugs and drug paraphernalia including electronic scales and resealable bags in a kitchen cupboard at his one-bedroom unit in Paddington.
Our client was the sole lessee of the unit, although his girlfriend also lived there and friends also attended for social gatherings.
The prosecution case failed because they could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that our client 'exclusively possessed' the drugs, to the exclusion of all others.
In drug cases, police must prove 'exclusive possession'- in other words, police must exclude any reasonable possibility that the drugs belonged to someone else.
In this case, our lawyers ensured that ample evidence came before the court that the drugs could have belonged to our client's partner or any one of a number of people who recently attended the unit.
The Magistrate in Downing Centre Local Court therefore found our client 'not guilty' and dismissed both of the charges.
Successful District Court Appeal Keeps Client Out of Prison
A 53 year old man from Canley Vale 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 ran at his neighbour with a large meat cleaver and swung it towards the man's 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 struggled to arrest and detain him.
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 case - which contain everything said during the Local Court hearing.
Transcripts are very important because appeals to the District Court against conviction (ie against a 'not guilty' verdict) 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 quickly came to the view that his hearing was prepared and conducted poorly, and that his prospects of defeating the conviction were very slim.
It also became abundantly clear that, due to the witness statements against him, his lawyers should have negotiated less-serious charges and advised him to plead guilty, rather than taking his case all the way to an expensive 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.
We argued his case in Parramatta District Court where we convinced the Judge to overturn the sentence of imprisonment, and to give him a 15 month 'suspended sentence' instead.
This 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.