Being charged with a criminal offence can feel overwhelming. Getting the right advice and information is one of the key first steps.
In Queensland, the police investigate whether a crime has occurred. The decision to charge a person with an offence rests with police alone.
Most of the time, if you are charged with an offence you will be required to attend court. The first court appearance is generally in the Magistrates Court. Almost all summary and regulatory offences can be finalised at the Magistrates Court level. More serious indictable charges, however, can only be finalised in the District or the Supreme Court.
In most parts of Queensland, summary and less serious indictable offences are prosecuted by the Queensland Police Service. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is responsible for all criminal prosecutions that proceed in the District and Supreme Courts.
One of the core principles of the criminal justice system is that a person is presumed to be innocent unless and until the prosecution proves the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that an accused person does not need to prove that they are innocent. Rather, the prosecution has the burden of showing that the person is guilty.
In practical terms, this often means that, as soon as possible after you have been charged, the prosecution must provide you with a copy of the evidence against you. What the evidence actually is varies with each case. Evidence may include witness statements, CCTV or other video footage, covert recordings by the police, SMS and other telephone records, DNA and fingerprints, and photographs. Part of our job is to closely review the evidence and then provide you with expert tactical and legal advice about the best way to proceed.
There are many ways that a criminal charge may proceed in the criminal justice system. Some people plead guilty and are then sentenced by the judge or magistrate. Others plead not guilty and their matter goes to trial before a judicial officer and (in a some cases) a jury. Often, there may be negotiations with the police and the prosecution about the charges. In some cases, restorative or diversionary processes such as justice mediation may be used.
At Jasper Fogerty Lawyers, our priority is working with you and exploring every angle of your case to reach the best outcome for you. Criminal matters can be stressful, but we are here for you every step of the way. See what we stand for on our About us page.
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