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Common Criminal Charges In Sydney

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Criminal law is a complex, expensive and time-consuming area of law. Criminal charges of any nature are serious and they should not be taken lightly. Whilst there are two different main types of criminal offending, any criminal activity can have drastic and lifelong consequences. A criminal conviction can have consequences which are unknown at the time of the activity.

Common criminal charges, as they may be put, relate to traffic charges, assault, drug offences, etc. The term “common criminal charges” is really a slap against society as there is no form of criminal offending which should be common or normalized. The common groups of criminal charges are explained below.

Legal advice should be obtained in relation to any criminal offending and you should seek advice from an expert criminal lawyer. Jameson Law have a team of experienced criminal lawyers ready and willing to assist.

Types Of Criminal Offending

Violent Offences

There are a few different common violent offences which fall under criminal law namely, actual bodily harm assault, grievous bodily harm and common assault. You may have heard of some of these terms in the news. The most common form of violent offence is assault.

Assault is the act of harming another individual through either physical or mental violence. It can be classed as either a summary or indictable offence depending on the severity of the offending. If an individual is charged with common assault or assault occasioning actual bodily harm then the matter will fall under the Crimes Act.

Grievous bodily harm is a serious form of assault. It is physical violence which results in a permanent or semi-permanent impairment from occasioning actual bodily harm. It is classed as a serious indictable offence which can have serious consequences. Grievous bodily harm is really only one step down from murder.

Domestic violence or family violence is another common type of unlawful violence which can cause deep wounds. These wounds can be emotional and physical. Family violence is the use of physical, mental, emotional, sexual or financial violence against another person. It is a common misconception that this type of violence only includes occasioning bodily harm.

Family violence can cause serious injury and sentencing can range from community correction orders to terms of imprisonment depending on the severity of the violence.

Traffic Offences

Traffic offences are extremely common and almost every person in their life will be subject to a traffic violation of some kind. Some traffic offences may have a lawful excuse however most are either simple irresponsibility or human error.

The most common traffic offences are speeding, drink driving, or unlawful driving. Speeding can either be deliberate, accidental or human error. It can be influenced by factors such as weather, Tyres or speedometer however these influences will cause minor not major fluctuations in speed.

Major fluctuations in speed are caused by intentional human acts. Speeding can cause dangerous, even life threatening situations if people are reckless.

Drink driving is also a serious traffic offence which can have dire consequences. There is limited lawful excuse for this type of behavior but in rare circumstances it can happen. The limit in Australia for driving with alcohol is in your system is 0.05%. It is possible to exceed this limit without meaning to and without being classed as intoxicated or drunk.

In most circumstances however, drink driving is the result of reckless human nature. There is little legal defence available for this type of behavior and instead, simply mitigating behavior which might explain the persons state of mind. For example, an increased emotional state which led to the drinking may be the only defence available to explain that the actions were not intentional and simply a culmination of emotions and alcohol. This will do nothing to undo the illegal behaviour, it simply provides a backstory. Ultimately, the defendant is guilty of the behaviour no matter the mitigation.

Drug Offences

Drug offenses are unfortunately becoming more common with every passing day and the consequences of such can be dire. The maximum penalty for all criminal offences including drug offences is a term of imprisonment however the length will be determined ultimately by the severity of the offence. Criminal history will also have a part to play.

Drug offenses can range from simple possession to major offences like drug trafficking but all cause harm to not only the individual but to the wider community as well. Whilst drug offences have a lack of physical contact as an element, the widespread consequences are rapidly infiltrating society. The ramifications of drug are noted through an increase in violence, theft, home invasions, traffic offences, etc.

Actual bodily harm occurs frequently as a result of drug use because the effects of illicit drugs on the human body are ever changing. No two people may react the same with one person being seemingly mellow and the other favoring immediate personal violence or anything in between.

Punitive Measures

All criminal offending is subject to a form of punishment but the severity of the offending will be determinative of the severity of the punishment. Punitive measures range from simple fines to terms of imprisonment.

The legislation will be able to tell you whether certain types of criminal offending is subject to a minimum or maximum penalty. The theory behind this is to try and deter people from offending because they can already see the penalty they may receive. In many cases, the maximum penalty is a term of imprisonment.

Types Of Punitive Measures

There is a long list of possible punishments you can receive if found guilty of a criminal offence and these punishments can be issued both individually and in combination. Personal violence for example will carry a heavier sentence than a speeding fine on the scale. However, repeated speeding offence could eventually lead to a harsher penalty than a one-off violence offence.

The types of punitive measures you could be look at are as follows;

  1. Monetary Fine;

  2. Community corrections order;

  3. Suspension of License;

  4. Good behaviour bond;

  5. Term of Imprisonment.

Whilst the above may look like a simplistic list, there are a number of subcategories which may fall under each and every sentence. There can be mandatory drug and alcohol testing, rehabilitation, counselling, curfews, restrictions, etc, which may apply.

The purpose of a sentence or punitive measure is to prevent and deter criminal offending. The measures are meant to be unpleasant and uncomfortable so that the accused does not want to commit further offending and be required to undergo the same punishment.

Punitive measures are going to be more severe depending on whether the person intentionally committed the crime or whether their offending was a reasonable response to a threat of harm which would amount to self defence.

Factors of Sentencing

When it comes to sentencing there are a range of factors which may or may not be taken into account. The type of charge followed by the severity of the offending will be the first factor and other considerations are added in after that. For example, common assault against a pregnant woman is usually considered a more severe offence than common assault against a non-pregnant woman but it will really depend on the severity. Similarly, common assault charges causing bodily harm, are more severe than common assault charges which do not cause bodily harm and so on.

Once the severity of the charge (or rather conviction once it reaches sentencing stage) is considered, things such as good character, criminal history, other offences, mental capacity and law come into play. The crimes Act for example may indicate a minimum or maximum sentence to be given which removes judicial discretion.

Accessing Legal Advice

It is important to access legal advice as quickly as possible when having been accused or charged with a criminal offence. Legal representation for these types of offences is best accessed from an experienced criminal lawyer. Not only will you need advice on how to properly navigate the legal process but you will need to know whether it is appropriate to pleading guilty or not guilty, what defences you should seek to rely on and what penalties you could be facing.

You may be able to access a free consultation from a community legal service or legal aid service in your area so that you can get some direction on your matter before hiring a private lawyer. A criminal defence lawyer can be very expensive depending on the work required. No matter what legal team you choose, you need to have a personal level of comfort and confidence in whoever you pick.

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