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Role Of Victim Impact Statements In Sentencing

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What Is A Victim Impact Statement?

A victim impact statement allows the victim a voice within the criminal proceedings. It is a chance for the victim to explain their pain, suffering or mitigation of a crime committed against them. It is important for the court to understand the impact the criminal offending had on the victim so it can factor into two important issues; whether there is a continued risk to the community and whether there should be a harsher or lighter penalty considered.

The court is able to use a victim impact statement to factor into sentencing matters for the defendant. At the sentencing hearing, the victim or prosecution will read the victim impact statement aloud to demonstrate the emotional suffering the victim has endured. If the defendant has plead not guilty but been found guilty of the offence, the victim impact statement can be a powerful tool. It can signify to the court the lack of remorse shown by the defendant towards the victim.

Is A Victim Impact Statement Required?

There is no requirement for a victim to provide a statement about what they have suffered and how it is effecting them. In many instances, it can be too painful for the victim to even contemplate writing a statement or they simply elect not to do so. It can be confronting for a a statement to be read aloud which broadcasts the emotions and suffering of an already vulnerable individual.

There are some who do not want their offender to become aware of how much pain, harm or suffering they have caused to their life, particularly if it is someone known to them. Ultimately, the facts, circumstances and harm suffered are presented to the court by the prosecution during the trial, if required, and those factors are taken into account when the determination is made.

Who Can Write A Victim Impact Statement?

Usually, the term “Victim Impact Statement” leads people to believe that the physical victim of the offence is the only one who can present to the court how the offending has affected them. Yet this is not the case. Criminal offending can have a far reaching effect depending on the circumstances and there may be other victims who feel its impact.

The most powerful and life altering example which springs to mind is that of murder. In this instance, the victim of that offence is not able to express how the offending has impacted their lives but their family remains to share their pain and grief. The injury in this case is emotional, not physical.


Criminal lawrefers to the punishment for criminal acts committed against individuals within the community. Each criminal court case is subject to either a Judge or Magistrate determining guilt based on evidence brought by the prosecutor and rebutted by the defence.

Victims of crime are those who are affected by criminal actions in a direct, indirect or personal way. Victims can be friends, family, member of the community or even bystanders who have no direct involvement to the crime. Victim statements are read aloud in court to accurately report what happened and to describe the injury suffered.

Criminal justice is an important aspect of the court process. Criminal justice refers to the notion that a defendant be brought to justice through punitive measures due to criminal acts committed. When a defendant is sentenced by the sentencing court, the severity of the punishment is dependent on the circumstances of the crime and the severity of the offence.

A victim impact statement when read aloud is a powerful and persuasive statement to the court. It is one of the only chances for the victim to explain in their own words how crimes has affected their life and why the court should take that pain and suffering into account when determining a sentence.


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Court Procedures in Sydney

Understanding court procedures can be confusing, but being prepared is key. Dressing professionally, bringing the necessary documents, and behaving respectfully In Sydney, court proceedings follow a structured process, from initial appearance to hearings. This article will break down all these areas of a court appearance in more depth. Trust Jameson Law for expert legal representation—they’re dedicated to fighting for your rights and will help you navigate through all the processes of your next appearance in court. Remember, we’re in it to win it! What should I wear while attending court? When attending court in Australia, it’s essential to dress respectfully and professionally. Opt for neat, conservative attire such as business attire or smart casual clothing. Men can wear a suit or dress pants with a collared shirt, while women can choose a pantsuit, dress, or skirt with a blouse. Avoid wearing clothing that is too casual, revealing, or flashy, as it may not be appropriate for the solemn atmosphere of the courtroom. Closed-toe shoes are preferable, and accessories should be kept minimal. Additionally, as the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia points out, you should make sure to take off your sunglasses, hats or caps before you enter the courtroom. Being on time to court is extremely important. If you are late to your hearing or committal proceedings, If the Judge decides, you could be penalised. The maximum penalty that you face could be severe.   In a nutshell… Remember, your appearance reflects your respect for the court, so dressing appropriately shows that you take the proceedings seriously. Procedures to follow Addressing the Judge or Judicial Registrar: In Sydney courts, it’s important to address the Judge as “Your Honour” when speaking to them. For Judicial Registrars, use “Registrar” unless told otherwise. For example, you might say “Yes, your Honour” when addressing a Judge and “Yes, Registrar” when speaking to a Judicial Registrar. Courtroom Etiquette: As the Federal Court of Australia writes about here, Upon entering or leaving a courtroom with a Judge or Judicial Registrar present, it’s customary to bow your head as a sign of respect. This is something you should do in all courts, whether it be a family court, federal court or any other court of New South Wales. Court Proceedings: When your case is called, approach the Bar Table at the front of the courtroom and state your name to the Judge or Judicial Registrar. They will inquire about your claim and may set a timetable for the next steps, such as submitting evidence and pleadings. It’s a good idea to discuss timelines with the other party beforehand. Rule 5.04 outlines the types of orders a Judge may issue. By following these procedures, you ensure smooth communication and respectful conduct in Sydney courts. Contact Jameson Law today for a consultation. Whether it be a question about a court procedure, Maximum Penalties or how to move a hearing date, Jameson Law is a one-stop shop for all your legal needs! What should I Bring to Court? When heading to court in Sydney, it’s crucial to be prepared. Here’s what you should bring: Legal Documents: Bring any relevant paperwork related to your case, including court orders, summons, or legal agreements. It is important to bring 3 sets of documents with you to the court, one set for you, one set for the other party and another set for the judge or registrar. This ensures that court events go as smoothly as possible! Identification: Carry a valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, to verify your identity if needed. Notes and Evidence: Take notes on key points you want to remember and bring any evidence or documents supporting your case. Contact Information: Have contact details for your lawyer, if you have one, and any witnesses or other parties involved in the case. Pen and Paper: Bring a pen and notebook to jot down important information during the proceedings. A good lawyer: A good lawyer can make all the difference in court. The expert lawyers at Jameson Law are perfect examples of this. Before you get to the courtroom, they will make you understand in depth what is going on. having your understanding of what would happen if you plead guilty, what the maximum penalties might be, or things like how to move a hearing date to make proceedings move as smoothly as possible. Patience and Respect: Lastly, bring patience and a respectful attitude. Court proceedings can be lengthy and sometimes stressful, so maintaining composure and showing respect for the court and others involved is essential for a smooth process. Importance of a good lawyer during court proceedings In court proceedings, a proficient lawyer is essential, and Jameson Law stands out as an expert law firm in Sydney. A skilled lawyer, like those at Jameson Law, provides invaluable guidance, strategic representation, and unwavering support. With their expertise, they navigate complex legal processes, protect your rights, and strive for favourable outcomes. Jameson Law offers personalized attention, ensuring you understand your case and make informed decisions. Their dedication to achieving the best results means you have a strong ally in the courtroom, advocating fiercely for your interests. Trusting Jameson Law ensures you have top-tier legal representation when you need it most. Court behaviour In Sydney courts, proper behaviour is essential. Remember to switch off your mobile phone and nod respectfully when entering or leaving the room. Stand when addressing the judge or when they speak to you, and speak clearly without interrupting others. Be polite to everyone, including the judge or registrar and other parties involved. Take notes to stay organized and track important points. By following these guidelines, you demonstrate respect for the court and ensure smooth proceedings during your time in Sydney courtrooms. Court Appearances in Local Courts In Sydney, court appearances follow a structured process. Initially, when your case is brought before a magistrate, the charge will be recorded, and the final decision may be postponed to another date. If you plead guilty, sentencing might occur immediately for minor charges, but for more serious offences, the magistrate may request a pre-sentence report. If granted bail, you’ll receive a bail notice detailing your court appearance. Upon arrival, check the court lists for your assigned courtroom and be present when your case is called to avoid repercussions, especially if you’re on bail. Between initial appearances and hearings, there may be several ‘callovers’ or ‘mentions’ to schedule the case within the court timetable. Pleas of guilty or not guilty can be lodged during these appearances. Guilty pleas may lead to immediate sentencing or a later date set for sentencing. Not guilty pleas result

Defending Against Domestic Violence Charges

  In a nutshell… Domestic violence is a serious criminal law matter which can leave deep emotional and physical scars. Domestic violence refers to the use of physical, emotional, sexual financial or psychological violence against a spouse, partner, child or close relative. Of the five different categories of violence, charges can be made up of multiple different categories. Domestic violence charges are serious, and they can result in severe penalties. if you have been charged with a domestic violence offence, then you will need to obtain advice from an experienced domestic violence lawyer. Domestic Violence Defences Self defence is one of the most challenging aspects to domestic violence. It is common for a domestic argument to involve violence perpetrated by both parties; therefore, it is difficult to know who the victim is and who the perpetrator is. Self defence means a proportionate response to violence to diffuse a threat of harm. The level of violence required to diffuse the threat is different depending on the situation. For example, an individual may punch their partner in the face and their partner may need to defend themselves. Their defence may be to punch back which would be a proportionate response however to stab the individual would be a disproportionate response. Further criminal charges can also result including grievous bodily harm and assault. False Accusations In many instance, if not all, the alleged perpetrator will deny the existence of violence. There is a percentage of family violence cases which are false but it can be difficult to know whether the violence has or has not occurred. Physical violence has a higher chance of being proven given its nature and the usual existence of physical evidence (i.e. bruising, lacerations, etc). Emotional or psychological violence however, is not as easily proven and it can be word against word. It can therefore be easy for an alleged victim to make a false allegation and have domestic violence charges laid. A domestic violence conviction can result in lifelong consequences which follow and individual. For example, an individual could be accused of calling their partner a “fucking bitch” and making verbal threats to kill them. These threats could have created a genuine fear of harm which is simply word against word because there is no hard evidence of the threat. The threat could have severely impacted the life of the victim because they have increased anxiety and fear, yet they will have difficulty proving that this is the case. Insufficient Evidence A domestic violence case is ultimately dependent on evidence and sometimes, no matter the honesty of the victim, the evidence simply does not exist. A large amount of domestic violence is perpetrated in private, without witnesses, and there is no record. Emotional or psychological abuse for example is perpetrated in subtle ways which may not even be apparent to a close family member. Most domestic violence of this nature makes its way to the surface through family law such as a custody case where behavior is more easily observed. Violence can manifest in ways which are not physical and victims have difficulty explaining the impact the behavior is having. Having a domestic violence matter dismissed due to a lack of evidence however is no guarantee. More evidence may become available and the charges could be laid again. Each domestic violence case only needs to pass the test of beyond a reasonable doubt   Case Study Kayla has been charged with domestic violence charges and is due to come before the court in May. She is charged with two counts of physical violence and one count of emotional violence. Kayla’s boyfriend has made statements to police that Kayla punched him to the throat, scratched him across the back and sent him an abusive text message. Kayla is aware that domestic violence cases carry significant penalties and there are only limited defences. Kayla seeks to rely on self defense because she alleges that her partner hit her first and she was only defending herself when she scratched and punched him. She will however be pleading guilty to the abusive text message. Kayla’s self defense argument is partially accepted however she is still found guilty of assault. She received a suspended sentence. Criminal Justice System Domestic Violence Trial If you have been charged with a domestic violence offence and have chosen to plead not guilty then your matter will proceed to trial. A trial is a process whereby the evidence is presented and tested to determine guilt. It is an expensive and time-consuming legal process. A domestic violence trial under criminal law will be heard in the appellate court, local court or supreme court depending on the severity. A trial in the Supreme Court will be subject to a jury determination. It is the role of the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Domestic Violence cases heard in the Family Court however are different. No criminal charges can result from a family court trial alone as it is a completely different jurisdiction. If an individual has been accused of domestic violence then this can have flow on effects for their family law matters. A domestic violence charge can indicate risk to either their spouse, partner or child and the court must determine the best course for the family using the best interests principle. Procedural Errors Procedural errors are one of the leading causes of mistrials. A mistrial occurs when the trial or evidence has been compromised in some way and it would be prejudicial to continue. A procedural error may be due to contamination of evidence, property damage or evidence being brought before the court and jury which needs to be disregarded. A procedural error can cause a miscarriage of justice if for some reason the prosecution is unable to retry the case at a later date. You should seek legal advice before making any procedural arguments to ensure correct interpretation of legislation, policies and processes. Both police, the court and each individual lawyer will have

Representation in Criminal Trials

Understanding our criminal law system can be tough. Here at Jameson Law, we understand that! That’s why we have written up this article so you can understand the ins and outs of representation at criminal trials. We are going to talk about What a Criminal Lawyer does, Your right to a fair trial and answer your questions about criminal law representation. So, what does a Lawyer in a Criminal Trial do? Guidance and Support Legal representation in Australia provides crucial guidance and support to individuals navigating legal processes. Lawyers help clients understand their rights, responsibilities, and the potential outcomes of their legal matters. This assistance empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their cases. Advocacy in Court One of the primary roles of legal representation is to advocate for clients in court during criminal proceedings. Lawyers, like those at Jameson Law, represent their clients’ interests, presenting arguments, gathering evidence, and preparing legal documents. This is particularly important in criminal cases, where individuals rely on their representation to defend their innocence or mitigate penalties. A defence lawyer, in particular, will fight to ensure that an accused person is given a fair trial and help show the judge that their non-guilty client did not commit any serious criminal offence. Navigating Legal Procedures Legal representation assists individuals in navigating complex legal procedures. Lawyers are familiar with the intricacies of the legal system and can guide clients through the necessary steps, ensuring that all requirements are met and deadlines are adhered to. Negotiation and Settlement In addition to courtroom advocacy, legal representation often involves negotiation and settlement outside of court. Lawyers represent their clients’ interests in negotiations, aiming to reach mutually acceptable agreements with opposing parties. This can be in matters such as civil disputes, family law issues, or commercial conflicts. Protection of Rights Legal representation plays a vital role in protecting the rights of individuals. Lawyers advocate for their clients’ rights and interests, ensuring fair treatment under the law. They work to uphold principles of justice and equality, regardless of their clients’ backgrounds or circumstances. Access to Justice Overall, legal representation in Australia ensures access to justice for all individuals. It provides essential services to those who may not have the legal knowledge or resources to navigate the system alone. By offering guidance, advocacy, and support, legal representation upholds the principles of fairness and equality within the Australian justice system. If you think you are unable to afford legal representation, do not worry! At Jameson Law, we have a guaranteed No Win No Fee Agreement including any disbursements we incur to run your case. This means that if your claim is not successful, we do not charge you anything. This allows us to maintain a high rate of success as we will let you know upfront if we feel that your case will not win. We also always ensure our fees are fair and purely reflective of the work and effort we put into making your personal injury case a success. Any costs payable to Jameson Law will be deducted from, and will not exceed, any compensation that you are entitled to receive; you will not pay anything out of pocket. Qualities of good legal representation Good criminal representation in Australia means having lawyers who know their stuff and fight hard for their clients. They understand the law inside out and can explain things in a way that makes sense. Take, for example, a lawyer who defends someone accused of theft. They’ll know all the relevant laws about theft and how to challenge the evidence against their client. These lawyers are also honest and fair. They follow the rules and always act in their client’s best interest. Imagine a lawyer who advises their client to tell the truth in court, even if it’s tough. Moreover, good criminal lawyers work tirelessly on their cases. They leave no stone unturned in gathering evidence and preparing arguments. Picture a lawyer who spends countless hours reviewing documents and talking to witnesses to build a strong defence. Overall, these qualities—knowledge, honesty, and hard work—ensure that people facing criminal charges receive the best possible representation and a fair trial in Australia. Here at Jameson Law, we make sure that all our lawyers have all these skills. In all our court proceedings, whether it be from defending clients accused of serious crimes or those accused of traffic offences, are are committed to being the best defence lawyer possible and providing them with the best legal assistance. We are in it to win it! Fair Trial Rights in Australia Foundational Principles Fair trial and fair hearing rights are fundamental guarantees in legal proceedings in Australia. These rights ensure that all individuals are treated equally before the courts and tribunals and have access to fair and public hearings. This is an incredibly important part of any representation in criminal law cases. Source of Rights In Australia, fair trial and fair hearing rights are derived from international human rights treaties, particularly Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). These rights are also reflected in domestic legislation and legal principles. Moreover, as the Attorney General’s Office points out, Chapter III of the Constitution establishes the High Court of Australia also outlines an individual’s right to a fair trial. Scope of Rights These rights apply to both criminal and civil proceedings, as well as cases before courts and tribunals. They encompass procedural fairness, ensuring that all parties involved have the opportunity to present their case without disadvantage and under conditions that are impartial and independent. Principles of Equality Fair trial and fair hearing rights uphold principles of equality, ensuring that the interests of the accused, victims, and the community (in criminal trials) or all parties (in civil proceedings) are recognized and respected. This includes the principle of ‘equality of arms’, which requires that all parties have a reasonable opportunity to present their case on equal footing. Public Hearing and Impartiality These rights also encompass the right to a public hearing, emphasizing transparency and accountability in legal proceedings. Moreover, the requirement of an independent and impartial court or tribunal ensures that disputes are resolved without bias or improper influence, upholding the integrity of the justice system.   In a nutshell… In summary, fair trial and fair hearing rights in Australia guarantee procedural fairness, equality before the law, transparency, and independence in legal proceedings, reflecting fundamental principles of justice and human rights. Can I apply for legal aid? In New South Wales, you can apply for legal aid if you’re going to court but can’t afford a private lawyer. The Legal Aid Department of the NSW


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