Our guide to criminal litigation and legal representation

Rose Lawyers on 27 January 2016

If you're facing criminal charges, it means that the State or Commonwealth has brought an action against you. Seeking immediate legal advice is the most important thing you can do if you have been charged with an offence or expect to be charged. You could be facing potential imprisonment, a fine or both, but a good criminal lawyer will do everything they can to mitigate any charges against you and protect your interests, regardless of the case details.

Here's our guide to seeking legal advice when you're facing criminal charges.

When do you need a criminal lawyer?

It is always important to get legal advice whenever you are dealing with legal matters, whether it's a contract dispute, setting up a will or buying or selling a business. When it comes to criminal matters, it's even more important to get legal representation since there can be a lot more at stake. Here are the different types of offences and what you need to know about them:

Summary Offences

Summary offences are cases in which the outcome is determined only by a judge; no jury is present. Most criminal cases are summary offences, all of which are heard in the Magistrates' Court. Summary offences are often fairly minor and common examples include:

  • Road traffic offences
  • Minor assaults
  • Property damage

Indictable Offences

Indictable offences are more serious crimes that are heard before a judge and a jury. These cases may be

  • Sexual assault
  • Treason
  • Murder

Indictable Offences Heard Summarily

There are also some indictable offences that the accused can choose to have heard summarily, without a jury. The advantage of having your case heard summarily is that it will likely proceed through the courts much faster but it is essential that you get legal advice before making this decision. Indictable offences that can be heard summarily include:

  • Burglary
  • Theft
  • Causing serious injury recklessly

What type of lawyer do you need for criminal charges?

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When you are facing criminal charges, you need a lawyer who is familiar with both the court system and criminal law. It is important to remember that just because a lawyer has been practising for many years, it doesn't mean that they are experienced with criminal law. A lawyer with fewer years of experience might have spent more time dealing with the courts and criminal cases than a lawyer who has been practising for decades. Always ask your lawyer what past experience they have.

Specialist Lawyers

It is also worth considering finding a lawyer who specialises in criminal law. Some lawyers choose to focus their career around one particular part of the law field, such as criminal law, and become an Accredited Specialist in that field. An Accredited Specialist in criminal law would be considered an expert among experts when it comes to the ins-and-outs of the court system and the intricacies of criminal law like precedents and sentencing.

If your case is particularly complex, a specialist lawyer may have the extra expertise that you need. However, Accredited Specialists may cost more than regular criminal lawyers.

Finding the right criminal lawyer

Experience and expertise aren't the only things that you should consider when you need a criminal lawyer. It is just as important that you are able to trust your lawyer and believe that they will do everything they can to protect your interests. Consider whether you would be more comfortable with a male or female lawyer or a lawyer of a particular age.

The right criminal lawyer for you and your case will be able to be able to give you sound advice on how to proceed with your case. You may not always be able to "walk away" after a criminal case, but a lawyer who represents you effectively will ensure that the prosecutor has an uphill battle when it comes to proving their case against you.

Rose Lawyers

Seeking immediate legal advice is the best thing you when you have been charged with an offence, the sooner we get involved, the greater our ability to help you. At Rose Lawyers, we always represent our clients' interests diligently, regardless of the type of case. We will give you honest advice about your situation, provide a clear course of action and do everything possible to mitigate any charges against you.

For more information about criminal litigation, call Rose Lawyers on 03 9878 5222 to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation.