Category

Criminal Law

Drug Offences

Which Court Will I Appear in When Charged with Certain Drug Offences

By | Criminal Law, Drug Charges

While the jurisdiction of the different courts in Queensland is probably only an interesting topic to lawyers, when it comes to drug offences which court you end up to face the charges can be very important.

If your case ends up in the Supreme or District Court of Queensland, it will generally mean that your offence is at the serious end of the scale and you are potentially facing a lengthy term of imprisonment. If your matter is dealt with by the Magistrates Court, by comparison, it means that if you are convicted of a drug offence you will not face a sentence of more than three years.

Since January 2018 Queensland has also operated the Drug and Alcohol Court in Brisbane, designed with the aim of rehabilitating those whose severe drug and alcohol use is directly associated with their offending. Sentencing focuses on treatment to help offenders deal with their dependencies and criminal proclivities, and involves regular, random drug tests; regular appearances before the court; and incentives to keep offenders on track with their treatment.

How does the law determine which court you will appear in for a drug offence? That’s what we’ll address below but whichever court you come before, if you’re facing charges for drug offences, it’s imperative you speak with expert criminal lawyers such as Hannay Lawyers as soon as possible.

How jurisdiction between courts works

In Queensland which court you appear in is determined by the type of offence you’re charged with as set out in the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 (Qld), as well as whether your offence involves what are known as either Schedule 1 or 2 drugs.

The Magistrates Court is where the bulk of drug offences in Queensland are heard. The following offences (or attempts to commit such offences) are dealt with ‘summarily’ (i.e. without a formal trial or drawn-out legal proceeding) in the Magistrates Court if the person, on conviction of the offence, is not liable to more than 15 years imprisonment:

  • supplying dangerous drugs;
  • receiving or possessing property obtained from trafficking or supplying (in certain circumstances);
  • producing dangerous drugs;
  • possessing dangerous drugs;
  • possessing, supplying or producing relevant substances or things;
  • possessing things;
  • permitting use of place;
  • being party to offences committed outside Queensland.

A case where a person may be liable for a sentence of imprisonment of 15 years for possession of a dangerous drug can still be heard in the Magistrates Court, provided the prosecution does not allege that the possession of the drug was for a commercial purpose.

Summary prosecutions in this manner mean that if convicted, a person will not be sentenced to more than three years imprisonment. If the charge is more serious, or will require a sentence greater than three years, the Magistrate will refer the matter to a higher court such as the District or Supreme Court as an indictable offence that cannot be dealt with summarily.

For more serious charges such as supply or trafficking in commercial quantities of a drug, which can carry a penalty of up to 25 years imprisonment, the determination of whether your case will be heard in the District or Supreme Court depends on the type of drug it’s alleged you’re involved with.

Schedule 1 drugs in Queensland include heroin, cocaine, LSD, amphetamines and ecstasy. Schedule 2 drugs are considered less serious and include cannabis, morphine, methadone and barbiturates.

The full list of Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 illegal drugs can be found in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987.

Where the maximum penalty for a drug offence is 20 years or less, these matters will generally proceed on indictment to the District Court. All other offences likely to draw a higher sentence will be heard in the Queensland Supreme Court.

Supply of a drug specified in Schedule 2, for example, attracts a sentence of 15 years or 20 years for an aggravated instance of the offence (such as where drugs are supplied to a minor over 16 years, an intellectually impaired person, or the supply is to an educational institution or correctional facility), and will be dealt with by the District Court. Supply of a Schedule 1 drug, if the circumstances are not aggravated, will also be heard in the District Court and attracts a term of imprisonment of 20 years. Aggravated supply of a drug listed in Schedule 1, however, is imprisonment of 25 years and will be heard by the Supreme Court.

Unlawfully trafficking in dangerous drugs may constitute a single sale of a drug quantity combined with proof that a business was being carried on. Trafficking in Schedule 1 drugs is an offence punishable by up to 25 years imprisonment and will be dealt with by the Supreme Court, while the District Court may hear the offence of trafficking in Schedule 2 drugs as it is punishable by a maximum term of 20 years imprisonment.

A conviction for drug trafficking in Queensland also carries a mandatory minimum non-parole period of 80% of the term of imprisonment.

How a criminal lawyer can help

The take-out from this article is that the severity of punishment for a drug offence in Queensland is determined by the type of offence you’re charged with, the nature of the drug involved, and the jurisdiction of the court you’re matter is heard in.

At Hannay Lawyers, we have years of experience and expertise in representing people facing drug offence charges in Queensland’s court. We understand the intricacies of the law and the best ways to protect your rights in relation to any drug offence charges.

Given the length of some prison terms imposed for drug offences, it makes sense to avail yourself of the best possible legal representation so call our Gold Coast criminal lawyers today on 1800 431 603 for an understanding initial consultation.

What Happens if I Breach a Court Order

What Happens if I Breach a Court Order?

By | Criminal Law

When you come before a court on a criminal matter, there are a range of sentences the court can impose, many of which are designed to avoid the severity of a jail sentence.

These non-custodial options include good behaviour bonds, suspended sentences, probation, intensive correction and community service orders. There is also parole, which can be imposed either immediately after sentencing or after a period of imprisonment.

Such sentences ensure you remain in the community but are also accompanied by strict conditions to ensure that you actually serve the sentence and understand its consequences. Breaching the conditions of any of these sentences can be a serious offence resulting in possible re-sentencing and, in some cases, imprisonment.

This article will take a look at few of the most common breaches of court orders and the implications of such breaches. Anyone who is charged with breaching a court order should consult an experienced criminal lawyer immediately to ensure their rights and responsibilities are properly explained to them.

Breach of a Good Behaviour Bond

Imposition of a good behaviour bond means the court has found you guilty of a criminal offence but decides to release you into the community on a promise to be of good behaviour for a set period of time. The bond may include a surety – a guarantee or an amount of money – as well as other conditions you must observe.

Should you commit and be convicted of an offence which may attract a sentence of imprisonment while you are subject to the good behaviour bond, the judge will have to also consider your breach of the bond and you may be re-sentenced for the original offence. You will also likely forfeit the surety for the bond.

Breaching a Suspended Sentence

In Queensland suspended sentences may be imposed under Part 8 of the Penalties and Sentencing Act (Qld) for terms of imprisonment five years or less in duration. A sentence may be partly suspended so that you serve part of the term in prison and part in the community under strict conditions. In other cases, the sentence may be wholly suspended.

But if you breach the conditions of your suspended sentence, by committing an offence which is punishable by imprisonment, for example, the court will not only consider what sentence to impose for the new offence but also the implications for your suspended sentence. It may remove suspension of the original sentence, in whole or part, and make you serve it in custody. It may also allow you to remain in the community but impose stricter parole conditions on you, or it may extend the length of the suspended sentence.

Breaching a Community Service Order

Community service orders are imposed by the court, with the consent of the offender, and requires you to perform unpaid community service under the supervision of a corrective services officer for a period not less than 40 hours and not more than 240 hours, to be completed within one year of the court making the order or by another date it specifies.

If you choose not to comply with the hours required by the order, or do not attend job sites as directed without reasonable cause, you will be in breach of the community service order. This may cause the corrective services officer to apply to revoke the order and for the court to reconsider its sentencing options regarding your original offence. If you do not appear in court during the application to revoke the order, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.

Breaching an Intensive Correction Order

A court generally makes an intensive correction order (ICO) in cases where someone has a history of offending, as a last resort before imposing a sentence of imprisonment. The order is made for those who have been sentenced to imprisonment of one year or less and have had a conviction recorded, allowing them to serve their sentence in the community. Someone subject to an ICO must report to a corrective services officer; avoid committing further offences during the period of the order; undertake community service; undergo counselling and other programs; and reside at community residential facilities for periods not longer than seven days at a time, as directed by the officer.

Breach of an ICO, such as committing another offence while under the order, may see you serve the time that remains on your sentence at the time of the offence in a correctional facility, unless there are exceptional circumstances as to why this should not happen.

Breaching a Probation Order

Under a probation order you may remain in the community either immediately after the court makes the order, for a period not less than six months and not more than three years, or after a term of imprisonment for not less than nine months nor more than three years.

While on probation you are under the supervision of a corrective services officer and must comply with certain conditions. These orders are sometimes combined with community service orders, particularly for younger offenders, keeping them out of prison but remaining under supervision in the community.

A strict condition of a probation order is that you refrain from committing another offence. You must also comply with any community service order or ICO ordered as part of your probation. Breaching the order in any of these ways may result in punishment both for the breach and also cause the court to re-sentence you in regard to the offences which led to the probation order. Breaches of probation are considered serious by the court.

Breaching of parole

If you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment, a ‘non-parole’ period may also be set by the court, after which you are eligible to apply for parole and be released into the community under strict conditions. There you will be supervised by Corrective Services under the period of your sentence is complete.

The consequences of breaching your parole conditions can be significant, but also depend on whether your parole conditions were court-ordered or set by the Parole Board. In the first situation, the Parole Office may amend the parole order to impose stricter conditions on your release, or provide a warning and closer surveillance of your movements. More severely, they could suspend your sentence and take you back into custody for a maximum of 28 days.

In the case of the Parole Board, it may also amend your order, or suspend it indefinitely or for a specified period of time. It may also cancel your order. This decision must be accompanied by a ‘show cause’ letter which you may respond to for the Board to consider. You may also apply to the court for a review of any decision the Board makes.

It should be noted a parole order may be cancelled automatically if you are sentenced for another offence, except in certain circumstances.

The importance of proper legal advice

In any of the situations detailed above, it’s vital you are represented by legal professionals with detailed knowledge and experience of Queensland’s criminal justice system.

If you are facing any of these scenarios, your first call should be to Hannay Lawyers. We are an award-winning criminal law firm that will fully advise you on what you should do next if you have breached a court order. We make every effort to achieve the best possible result for our clients. Call our Gold Coast criminal lawyers for a free initial consultation today on 1800 431 603.

When Will No Conviction Be Recorded for Commonwealth Offences?

By | Criminal Law

Australian courts have frequently recognised the impact of recording a conviction for a person found guilty of an offence. In some circumstances it’s acknowledgeded that recording a conviction for the offence is punishment in itself, with accompanying harsh effects on the offender’s employment prospects, ability to travel and other adverse legal consequences.

These concerns are one of the reasons for the existence of section 19B of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) – ‘Discharge of offenders without proceeding to conviction’. This provision in the Commonwealth legislation allows a court to find that while a Federal offence has been proved, it can dismiss any charge without recording a conviction (s 19B(1)(c))  or conditionally discharge a person without recording a conviction (s 19B(1)(d).

In Queensland, this discretion in Federal legislation is reflected (with some differences) in section 12 of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1912.

What sort of offences are captured by section 19B?

Commonwealth offences fall under the law-making responsibilities of the Australian federal government, as opposed to those covered by state legislation.

Examples of Commonwealth offences include child sex offences by Australians in foreign countries, cyber-crimes committed against Federal government departments, drug importation and exportation, people smuggling, human trafficking, terrorism, fraud against government departments such as the Australian Tax Office, Medicare or Centrelink, and threats made against government officials.

A ‘conviction only’ finding is not possible when sentencing someone for a Federal offence. A judicial officer cannot convict someone of a Federal crime without making another sentencing order, nor can they impose a sentence without convicting an offender.

How is section 19B activated?

This section of the Crimes Act sets out the circumstances when no conviction will be recorded. A two-step analysis is undertaken under s 19B(1)(b), where a Federal charge is proved against an offender and the court is satisfied:

  • having regard to the character, antecedents, age, health or mental condition of the person; or
  • the trivial nature of the offence; or
  • the extenuating circumstances under which the offence was committed, that it is:
  • inexpedient to inflict any punishment; or
  • inexpedient to inflict any punishment other than a nominal punishment; or
  • expedient to release the offender on probation.

Depending on the assessment of the factors above the court may then:

  • dismiss the charges in respect of which the court is satisfied (s 19B(1)(c)); or
  • discharge the person without conviction, conditional upon the person giving security to be of good behaviour for up to three years, the payment of restitution/compensation or costs (if any), and compliance with any other condition the court sees fit to impose (s 19B(1)(d)).

Additionally, the court must explain any such order under s 19B to the person who will be subject to it in language likely to be readily understood by the offender.

This section in operation

The factors listed in s 19B(1)(b) do not all need to be present in order for the court to move to the second stage of the two-step process.

The use of the discretion to not record a conviction under s 19B has been judicially described as ‘exceptional, ‘rare’ and ‘special’.

Cases in which the provision has featured emphasise that the matter involved must be distinguished from a typical breach. In some cases the importance for general deterrence will override the application of s 19B, such as a case involving dishonesty by a public official.

While one of the purposes of the discretion in s 19B is to assist in the rehabilitation of the offender (see King CJ in Uznanski v Searle (1981) 26 SASR 388), good prospects of rehabilitation do not necessarily mean the provision is activated. The use of s 19B will be exceptional in cases involving fraudulent or deliberately deceptive conduct, such as one example where the offence was using a telecommunications service to menace another person.

Under s 19B(1)(d)(ii), a condition of an order made under s 19B bond may be that an offender make reparation or restitution, or pay compensation or costs, on or before a specified date, or by specified instalments. Under s 19B(1)(d)(iii), a s 19B order may also include a condition that the person is subject to the supervision of a probation officer and must obey all reasonable directions given by that officer,. One criticism of this provision has been that there does not appear to be any statutory mechanisms or administrative arrangements for these functions to be performed by state or territory probation officers.

Contact us for guidance

Hannay Lawyers is a firm of expert criminal lawyers in Gold Coast with broad experience in representing people facing either Federal or state charges.

Our award-winning team can help you navigate the complexity of the criminal justice system. Ideally, depending on the nature of your matter, we can help you achieve a ‘no conviction’ result on the basis addressed in this article.

For any questions on anything raised in this article, please call us today on 1800 431 603.

What are the Consequences for a Lawyer Convicted of a Criminal Offence?

By | Criminal Law

A key requirement for a person to be admitted as a practising lawyer is that they are a ‘fit and proper’ person.

Lawyers are expected to uphold certain standards of ethical behaviour as a consequence of their unique and important duties to the court, to the law, and to their clients. These standards apply to how they conduct themselves both while practising law and outside of their work duties.

In Australia these requirements are expressed in legal professional conduct rules and governed by legislation in each state and territory. Under these rules a lawyer must avoid conduct which would:

  • be prejudicial to, or diminish the public confidence in, the administration of justice; or
  • bring the profession into disrepute.

A lawyer who fails to uphold these standards may be found to have engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct or the more serious finding of professional misconduct.

As previous cases have demonstrated, a lawyer who is convicted of a criminal offence is likely to be found to have engaged in professional misconduct and be subject to disciplinary action at the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

As a result, the Tribunal may order the lawyer be prohibited from practising law any further by being struck off the roll of legal practitioners, be suspended from the practise of law, or only allowed to practise under certain conditions. Action may also include pecuniary penalties, compensation orders and orders to pay the costs of the complainant.

What happens if a lawyer is convicted of a criminal offence

Like anyone else charged with a criminal offence, if a lawyer engages in criminal conduct either while practising law or outside of the workplace, it will first be dealt with by the police and the criminal justice process.

If the lawyer is convicted of the offence, then the investigation by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) – the body that deals with conduct complaints against lawyers – may commence to determine whether the conviction means the lawyer has engaged in professional misconduct and is not a fit and proper person to practise law.

Case examples: In 2017 high-profile Queensland criminal lawyer Tim Meehan was sentenced to five-and-a-half years imprisonment after pleading guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to one count each of aggravated fraud in excess of $30,000 and eight counts of fraudulently falsifying a record.

As a result the LSC commenced disciplinary action against Meehan in QCAT (Legal Services Commissioner v Meehan [2019] QCAT 17) for professional misconduct. Because Meehan admitted to his conduct, the Tribunal was left only to make orders against Meehan. It ordered he be removed from the roll of Queensland legal practitioners and pay the LSC’s costs in bringing the application. An order to be struck off the roll is only made where the Tribunal believes it is probable that the solicitor is permanently unfit to practise.

In Legal Services Commissioner v GR Woodman [2017] QCAT 385, the question to be decided was whether a solicitor of 33 years standing with an untarnished professional record was permanently unfit to practise, or not a fit and proper person to be a legal practitioner of the Supreme Court, after he had been convicted in 2015 on two counts of grooming a child under 16 years, and one count of using the internet to procure a child under 16 years.

The Tribunal found that although Woodman’s conduct did constitute professional misconduct, his case did not support a finding that he was permanently unfit to practise, or that he is not a fit and proper person to be a legal practitioner. Instead it ordered that his practising certificate be suspended for four years and that he pay the LSC’s costs in bringing the disciplinary action.

While the Tribunal recognised Woodman’s behaviour was ‘serious and distasteful’, it distinguished his case from others where legal practitioners had been struck off because there had been ‘sustained misconduct of a kind where the person would never be fit to trust with the powers and functions entrusted to a solicitor’.

Bringing a complaint

Lawyers have a crucial and trusted place in the administration of justice. They are entrusted with confidential information about their clients and, sometimes, large sums of money. Many lawyers are also under significant stress from their workload, which impacts on other areas of their lives. Like any of us, this means they can be prone to mistakes and misjudgements in terms of their behaviour.

Complaints about a lawyer, including one convicted of a criminal offence, can be made to the Legal Services Commission using the appropriate form. Complaints must be in writing, identify the person making the complaint and the lawyer or law practice employee mentioned in the complaint. The complaint must also describe the conduct being complained about.

If you need advice about anything raised in this article, contact expert criminal law firm Hannay Lawyers for a free consultation today on 1800 431 603. Our experience representing people facing criminal prosecution and/or disciplinary proceedings is second to none.

White Collar Offences: What Are They ?

By | Criminal Law

It was American sociologist and criminologist Edwin Sutherland who coined the term ‘white-collar crime’ in the late 1940s, a neat way to describe crimes committed by an individual or individuals during the course of their occupation or against the business or company they work for.

On its face, the term seems to suggest benign, non-serious crimes – respectable businesspeople maybe bending the rules a little bit here and there. In fact, corporate or financial misconduct is very serious and as a result, carries serious penalties, including long terms of imprisonment.

Below we’ll look at some of the most common examples of white-collar crime in Australia, who enforces the law in this area, and how we at Hannay Lawyers can help should you or someone you know be implicated in an activity that could be classed as white-collar crime.

What sort of activities qualify as white-collar crime?

White-collar crime can cover a very broad spectrum of offences but some of the most common in this area include bribery, embezzlement, tax evasion, forgery, fraud, identity theft, insider trading, money laundering and regulatory offences.

“The motive for the commission of these crimes is to obtain money or property or avoiding the payment of money or debts,” wrote Professor Michael Adams, Dr Tom Hickie and Mr Ian Lloyd QC in a joint submission to the national parliament’s Economics References Committee in a 2015 inquiry. “Thus, generally, the aim is to obtain some form of financial advantage.”

The penalties for some of these offences can be severe. Under section1 41 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, for example, bribery of or by a Commonwealth public official  – the act of giving money or giving a gift to alter the behaviour of the recipient – is punishable by a maximum penalty of imprisonment of 10 years.

Under s 408C of Queensland’s Criminal Code, fraud – using or obtaining property belonging, in whole or in part, to somebody else, as one example – carries a maximum penalty of five years of imprisonment. But this sentence can be increased up to 12 years of imprisonment where a corporation is defrauded by a director or member of its governing body, or an employer is defrauded by their employee.

Insider trading – where you possess and use non-public information that, if generally available, a reasonable person would expect to have a material effect on the price or value of securities of a body corporate – carries a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $450,000 for an individual, and a fine of up to $1.1 million for a company.

Those who engage in white-collar crime can be prosecuted under a variety of pieces of legislation, both Federal and state. Chief among them is the Corporations Act 2001, which is enforced by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission under the Australian Securities and Investments Act 2001. Besides law enforcement agencies such as the police, other regulatory bodies can also become involved, including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA), and the  Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

How are investigations into white-collar crime conducted?

ASIC, for example, has extensive powers to fight corporate crime in Australia in order to maintain public confidence in our economic system. A notice of formal investigation from ASIC should be taken very seriously because non-compliance is recognised as a criminal offence. ASIC only takes such action if it believes there has been a contravention of the law for which it is responsible. For this reason, you should contact a legal representative with expertise in this area as soon as possible.

ASIC has powers to execute a search warrant on a business’ premises and compel a person or entity to produce documents for inspection and disclose other information, as well as attend an examination to answer questions and/or provide reasonable assistance. You should ensure you make copies of any documents furnished to ASIC as part of its investigation.

On its site, ASIC lists the rights and responsibilities of those who are the subject of a formal investigation, including:

  • A requirement that you produce the specified information irrespective of whether it might tend to incriminate you or make you liable to a penalty.
  • A right to refuse to disclose information that is covered by a valid claim of legal professional privilege. If you claim this privilege, you need to be able to explain why it applies to that information.

Where you’re asked to attend an examination, your rights include:

  • That the examination will take place in private;
  • that you may be represented by a lawyer;
  • that a record of the examination will be made if you request it;
  • a right to refuse to answer questions on the basis that the answer would disclose information that is covered by a valid claim of legal professional privilege;
  • a requirement that you answer the questions put to you, irrespective of whether the answer may tend to incriminate you or make you liable to a penalty. You may make a claim for privilege on the basis that the answer you give may incriminate you and, in this case, any incriminating information you provide may not be used in a criminal prosecution of you or in proceedings to impose a pecuniary penalty on you, other than in perjury proceedings.

The value of legal advice

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry conducted by former High Court justice Kenneth Hayne between December 2017 and February 2019 brought corporate misconduct back into sharp focus in Australia. It lead to harsher civil and criminal penalties passed by the Federal Parliament, including maximum prison penalties of up to 15 years for the most serious corporate offences such breach of directors’ duties, false or misleading disclosures and dishonest conduct.

In light of these more severe penalties, it’s very important to consult multi-award-winning criminal law firm Hannay Lawyers if you are contacted by a corporate regulator or law enforcement about a possible white-collar crime. We have real-world experience in representing people facing investigation and will provide timely, relevant advice to put you in the best possible position to protect yourself and defend your interests. Call our Brisbane criminal lawyers today for a free consultation on 1800 431 558.

Mandatory Penalties

When Do Mandatory Penalties for Certain Offences Apply in Queensland?

By | Criminal Law

The issue of mandatory penalties is a controversial one in the law. Many judges and legal commentators criticise the inclusion of mandatory penalties in sentencing as restricting the discretion of judges to impose penalties that are proportionate to the crime, and as unfairly impacting disadvantaged members of society.

High profile crime issues such as the rash of incidents in the past decade involving outlaw bikie gangs on the Gold Coast, as well as ‘one-punch’ assaults causing death in nightclub precincts, have brought the subject of mandatory penalties to the fore as the state government has strived to appear ‘tough on crime’ in response.

To be clear, a mandatory sentence is a fixed penalty prescribed by the Queensland Parliament for committing a criminal offence. The most common form of mandatory sentencing is one in which the government sets a minimum threshold but leaves the court to impose a harsher sanction where it believes it is appropriate, such as an aggravated example of a crime. The mandatory minimum non-parole period for someone sentenced to life imprisonment for murder or a repeat serious child sex offence, for example, is 20 years.

What sort of mandatory penalties apply in Queensland?

There are currently different forms of mandatory penalties in Queensland. These include:

  • Mandatory penalties that apply to a particular sentence type and sentence length (for example, the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for murder and mandatory licence disqualification periods for certain offences under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld).
  • Mandatory penalties applying to the sentence or penalty type only, but in some cases include a discretion to impose a different sentence if there are exceptional circumstances (such as the requirement that a person who commits a child sexual offence be sentenced to serve an actual term of imprisonment).
  • Mandatory minimum non-parole periods, which apply to the term of imprisonment imposed. A person convicted of a serious violent offence (SVO) – manslaughter, grievous bodily harm, torture, robbery, sexual assault and sex offences such as rape, assault occasioning bodily harm, and drug offences such as trafficking, supplying or producing a dangerous drug, for example, must serve the lesser of 80 per cent of the sentence imposed or 15 years’ imprisonment before being eligible to apply for release on parole.

Newer mandatory penalties

As suggested above, certain crimes that make newspaper headlines have in recent years resulted in stiffer sentences involving mandatory penalties.

In 2016 the current Queensland Government passed the Serious and Organised Crime Legislation Amendment Act 2016, overhauling the previous Newman government’s Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act (VLAD) Act 2013. Designed to curb the activities of outlaw motorcycle clubs, but also other organised criminal groups, the new law banned outlaw motorcycle club members from wearing their club colours in public places and made it illegal for a person to habitually consort with two or more convicted offenders after being warned by police not to do so.

Most significantly, the new legislation prescribed lengthy mandatory jail terms for those who committed certain serious organised criminal offences committed with a circumstance of aggravation. Under s 161R of the Act an offender convicted of this circumstance will receive a sentence with a mandatory component for the lesser of either seven years or the period of imprisonment provided for under the maximum penalty for the prescribed offence.

A couple of years earlier in 2014, the Queensland parliament introduced a new offence of ‘unlawful striking causing death’ – also known as the ‘one-punch law’ – into the Criminal Code.

Under this law, offenders who cause the death of another person by unlawfully striking a blow to the head or neck are guilty of a crime, regardless of whether they intended the victim to die, or foresaw death as a possible consequence of striking the blow. The offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and also prescribes a mandatory minimum sentencing regime, with courts given a wide sentencing discretion in regard to this offence. If a person convicted of this offence is sentenced to a period of imprisonment, the court must order that they serve the lesser of 80% of the term of imprisonment imposed for the offence, or 15 years. In effect, this means the courts cannot set a non-parole period that is less than 80% of the base sentence, or 15 years (whichever is less).

Seek help from experienced criminal lawyers

At Hannay Lawyers, we have wide experience and expertise in helping people who may be facing conviction that includes a mandatory penalty. We can help you present the best possible case to hopefully avoid or mitigate the harshness of mandatory penalties for ceetain offences. If any of the issues raised in this article apply to your situation, please call our Brisbane criminal lawyers immediately for a free consultation on 1800 431 513.

KNOW ABOUT SCHEDULE 1 DRUGS VS SCHEDULE 2 DRUGS

What to Know about Schedule 1 Drugs vs Schedule 2 Drugs

By | Criminal Law

It’s no revelation that having anything to do with illegal drugs can lead to severe criminal penalties if you’re caught, but what many people may not realise is that those penalties vary significantly depending on the type of drug.

In Queensland, illegal drugs are divided into Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 drugs. This article will detail the differences between the two types as well as how the penalties differ depending on whether someone is caught possessing, supplying or trafficking these drugs.

The amount of each drug is also a factor in drug offences, with possession of a small amount of cannabis for personal use obviously treated differently to possessing multiple bags which you intend to sell to others.

Schedule 1 drugs

More serious penalties apply to Schedule 1 drugs than Schedule 2 drugs. In Queensland, Schedule 1 drugs are divided into Part 1 and 2 drug types.

Schedule 1, Part 1 drugs include:

  • Heroin;
  • cocaine;
  • amphetamine
  • methlyamphetamine (commonly known as ice, or crystal meth);
  • phencyclidine (commonly known as angel dust);
  • lysergide (commonly known as LSD);
  • methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy);
  • paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) and paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) (drugs which are sometimes sold as ecstasy but are actually more powerful).

Schedule 1, Part 2 drugs includes all anabolic and androgenic steroidal agents.

Schedule 2 drugs include – but are not limited to:

  • Cannabis;
  • morphine;
  • pethidine;
  • ketamine;
  • diazepam;
  • codeine.

Schedule 2 drugs number over 100 – for the full, more extensive list of illegal drugs, check the schedules in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987.

Drug offences

You should seek immediate legal advice from experienced Gold Coast criminal lawyers if you find yourself charged within any of the offences relating to drugs outlined below.

It’s illegal to possess illegal drugs. It’s always important to understand that you can be guilty of possession even where you don’t own the drug and haven’t used it. Someone storing drugs in your bedroom in a share house could, potentially, constitute possession on your behalf. This is called ‘deemed possession’ and results in a presumption that if drugs are found on or in your property or premises, the court will automatically believe the drugs are yours unless you can prove that you didn’t know about them.

It’s illegal to supply drugs, including giving, distributing, selling, administering, transporting or supplying; offering to give, distribute, sell, administer, transport or supply; doing or offering to do anything in preparation for giving, distributing, selling, administering, transporting or supplying.

It’s illegal to traffic drugs, which involves supplying drugs as part of a business or commercial operation. It should be noted that just one transaction can qualify as ‘trafficking’.

It’s illegal to produce illegal drugs by growing, preparing, manufacturing and packaging drugs, or offering to do any of these things.

It’s also an offence to possess items for drug use, such as a bong, pipe or syringes, or to possess equipment for producing drugs, such as scales, lights and agricultural equipment.

Penalties

The penalties for drug offences vary depending on the type of drug, the amount you’re involved with and whether there are aggravating circumstances.

A sampling of penalties under Queensland’s Drugs Misuse Act includes:

  • Sentences of up to 25 years imprisonment for unlawfully trafficking Schedule 1 drugs or 20 years for Schedule 2 drugs.
  • Supplying dangerous drugs attracts a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment for Schedule 1 drugs or 15 years for Schedule 2 drugs. Harsher sentences apply for aggravated circumstances, such as where the drug is supplied by an adult (a person 18 years or over) to: a minor (a person less than 18 years); a person with an intellectual impairment; someone within an educational institution or jail; or a person who does not know they are being supplied with a dangerous drug.

Other than imprisonment, courts can also impose Intensive Corrections Orders, a form of imprisonment served wholly in the community; probation, where a person may serve no longer than one year in prison and then be subject to a probation requirement upon release; or a Community Service Order which requires a person to perform unpaid work within the community for a certain number of hours over a six or 12 month period.

How we can help

Hannay Lawyers are experienced, award-winning criminal legal professionals who can provide expert advice and guidance if you are unsure about where you stand on the question of Schedule 1 or 2 drugs and the offences associated with them.

Contact our Brisbane Criminal Lawyers today on 1800 431 533 for a free consultation about how we can help you.

Ponzi Scheme

What You Need to Know About Fradulent Ponzi Schemes and Boiler Room Scams

By | Criminal Law

Sadly, a certainty in modern society is that there are always dishonest people willing to take advantage of those who are either gullible, greedy, or both. Australians lost a record $340 million to various scams in 2017.

The best example of this is the increasingly frequent use of fraudulent ‘ponzi’ investment schemes and ‘boiler room’ scams to deprive people of their money.

Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) and the Queensland Police have attempted to crack down on both these activities in recent years, achieving a number of high-profile arrests and convictions.

In this article we outline the basics of how these schemes operate and how they defraud those who invest in them. Hannay Lawyers brings real world experience in providing legal advice and guidance to those who’ve experienced the consequences of ponzi and boiler room schemes.

What is a ponzi scheme?

A ponzi scheme usually starts with a promoter who offers an investment opportunity to potential investors offering unusually high returns. The promoter uses the initial funds invested to pay good ‘dividends’ to the early investors in the scheme – sometimes as high as 10% per month – thereby encouraging them to promote the scheme to others. As more investors join, often at the invitation of friends or family, the scheme’s funds grow. But eventually nearly all ponzi schemes collapse in on themselves when the promoter fraudulently spends the money invested, or new investors fail to join the scheme.

Perhaps the most famous ponzi scheme ever uncovered was that conducted by US stockbroker Bernie Madoff. Madoff was estimated to have defrauded investors of more than $64 billion in a ponzi scheme that resulted in him receiving a prison sentence of more than 150 years.

There are some hallmarks to look out for if you feel you are being enticed into, or are already in, a ponzi scheme.

  • The return on your investment is unusually, or suspiciously, high;
  • the investment was suggested to you by a trusted family member or friend;
  • the person who entices you into the scheme boasts of higher-than-average returns on their investment.

Recent local examples include the case of Gold Coast hedge fund director Ken Grace, who ensnared high profile sports stars such as Robbie McEwen and Sam Riley in a ponzi scheme run through Grace’s Goldsky Global Access Fund. The scheme collapsed in 2018 with Grace owing $25 million after he spent investors’ funds on himself and his family.

In December 2019, a Sunshine Coast couple were charged with multiple counts of fraud after allegedly scamming investors out of almost $1 million. The pair claimed to be kickstarting the career of a 23-year-old Australian country music singer in Nashville and asked for people to invest in her career in return for regular payments based on her success.

What is a boiler room scam?

A ‘boiler room’ scam is perhaps best known as the technique used by Jordan Belfort, the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’, and involves cold calling people to try and entice them into buying products and/or investments that are either vastly overvalued or completely worthless.

In Australia, offering financial products or interests in managed investment schemes during an unsolicited meeting or telephone conversation is generally restricted without prior consent by the recipient and a disclosure document.

Boiler rooms can operate from anywhere in the world. They are generally set up as an outgoing call centre where telephone sales people, usually operating under an assumed name, pressure those who take their call using dishonest sales methods to invest money, purchase stocks or purchase predictive stock market computer programs.

Those who receive a call from a boiler room scheme have often appeared on an address list purchased by the scammers that identifies those who have a high net worth and also demonstrated an interest in making higher-than-average investment returns.

To help perpetrate the fraud, the scam will often present as a professional and legitimate business, with website, colour brochures and a virtual office in a prestigious CBD building in a major city. Correspondence is provided on official-looking letterhead and signed by apparently reputable office holders such as a Chief Financial Office or Chief Finance Officer.

Once the product purchase proves to be ineffective or even non-existent, the company will usually ‘phoenix’, meaning the ‘face’ company closes and begins trading under a new name, often with the same salespeople using new names. This transformation also involves changing all public information provided about the organisation, including phone numbers and website. Meanwhile, investors’ money has been laundered to finance the scammers’ activities and lifestyles.

In 2016, the CCC and Queensland Police arrested and charged seven people on the Gold Coast for running a boiler room scam. The operation was peddling software packages and investment schemes which allegedly earned them between $10-20 million.

Should you receive a cold call about an investment opportunity, remind yourself of the following:

  • Beware of offers to make quick and easy money.
  • Obtain independent, expert legal and/or financial advice before making any hasty investment decision.
  • Check with ASIC as to whether the organisation you’re dealing with is registered and legitimate.
  • Check everything else you’re able to about the people who have called you.

Speak with experienced lawyers

If you have been approached to put your money into an investment scheme, whether by a family member, friend or someone cold-calling on the phone, stop and think before acting. This is doubly the case where the offer sounds too good to be true, or promises better returns than from any other investment you hold. As some of the examples we’ve included in this article show, there’s every chance it’s a scam.

If you’ve already made the fateful decision to act and now fear you won’t see your money again, speak today with Hannay Lawyers. We have years of experience in providing understanding advice to those who’ve been victims of fraud and misrepresentation. We’ll provide a free consultation right now on 1800 431 513.

Supreme Court Bail Applications

All You Need to Know About Supreme Court Bail Applications

By | Criminal Law

Bail is a very important concept if you’ve been charged with a criminal offence. Understanding how it works can be the difference between staying in police detention until the charges against you are heard and decided, or remaining at liberty until your day in court.

If you’re granted bail and remain free until it’s time to go to court, you have the advantage of the support network of your family and friends during a difficult time, as well as a better chance to prepare a defence to the charges. Both these things are harder if you’ve been remanded in custody.

There are a number of steps involved in applying for bail, governed in Queensland by the Bail Act 1980. This article touches briefly on the initial steps but focuses on the role of the Supreme Court in deciding applications. For some of the more serious criminal charges, such as murder, only the Supreme Court can hear bail applications.

What is the process of applying for bail?

Bail is a written promise you sign, referred to as an undertaking, that allows you to remain free until you attend court on the date written on the undertaking to face the charges against you.

Being granted bail generally means you agree to a number of conditions, some of which include regularly reporting to a police station; living at a certain address; and having someone act as a surety (a sum of money provided by a person, which is forfeited if you later fail to show up at court). Bail can be revoked, or prompt a new charge of breaching bail, if you fail to comply with these conditions.

In smaller, less serious criminal matters, the decision on granting bail can be made by a police officer at the watch house. If the matter is more serious or the police refuse you bail, they are obliged to take you to court as soon as practicable to apply for bail. The District, Magistrates and Supreme courts can hear bail applications. Generally police will take a charged person to the Magistrates Court for them to apply for bail. If a person is refused bail by a Magistrate, they may apply for bail to the Supreme Court. As discussed, certain serious charges such as murder can only be heard by the Supreme Court.

Applying for bail in the Supreme Court

In order for the Supreme Court to hear a person’s bail application, an application must be made to the Court’s registry which includes any affidavits or other supporting documentation. If you were refused bail by the police or in a lower court, state this in the supporting affidavit and explain any change of circumstances that justifies a reapplication.

Once the indictment (or charge) has been presented, you can apply for bail in the Supreme Court.

In considering a bail application, the Court will consider:

  • The seriousness of the crime you’re charged with;
  • whether you have a place to live and are employed;
  • whether you’re of good character and background;
  • whether you have previous criminal convictions;
  • whether your charges relate to domestic and family violence matters;
  • whether you have breached bail before;
  • whether you are likely to appear in court;
  • whether you will endanger the public’s safety or welfare if allowed to remain at liberty;
  • whether you’re likely to interfere with witnesses or otherwise obstruct the course of justice; and
  • whether you are likely to reoffend.

Apart from the conditions outlined above, the court may also impose other conditions on the granting of bail including limiting your contact with the complainant or any witnesses to the alleged criminal act; non-consumption of alcohol or drugs, or attendance at rehabilitation; curfews, if the offender is a youth.

A further application to court will be required if you’re granted bail but wish to change the conditions imposed on you. The advice of an expert criminal lawyer should be sought if you wish to vary your bail conditions. In some circumstances, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) may agree to the conditions being changed.

In summary

There are a number of stringent procedures to follow in order to apply for bail, particularly if you’re making an application to the Supreme Court. This is where the guidance and expertise of highly experienced lawyers such as our professional team at Hannay Lawyers is invaluable. Our in-depth knowledge of the steps involved in applying for bail allow us to help you navigate the administrative process and give you the best chance of a successful bail application, at a time when you will need all the help you can get.

Contact our award-winning professionals at Hannay Lawyers today on (07) 3184 2323 if you’re facing criminal offence charges and need help straight away.

Charged with Grievous Bodily Harm

Charged with Grievous Bodily Harm? What You Need to Know

By | Criminal Law

 

In Queensland a charge of causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) is a very serious criminal offence. The Queensland Criminal Code defines three types of GBH offence: intentionally causing GBH, unlawfully doing GBH, and dangerous driving causing GBH.

While a custodial sentence will often be the result of committing one of the offences above in Queensland, it is not inevitable if you are properly advised by an experienced Brisbane criminal lawyer. The prosecution must prove you committed the offence beyond a reasonable doubt and there are other defences available, some of which are outlined below.

What Is GBH?

Section 1 of the Queensland Criminal Code defines GBH as:

  1. the loss of a distinct part or an organ of the body; or
  2. serious disfigurement; or
  3. any bodily injury of such a nature that, if left untreated, would endanger or be likely to endanger life, or cause or be likely to cause permanent injury to health.

What do the various charges mean?

The most serious charge is that you intentionally caused GBH (rather than that you simply caused it without lawful excuse), which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Under section 320 of the Queensland Criminal Code, unlawfully doing GBH carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment of 14 years. ‘Unlawful’ is generally defined as “not authorised, justified or excused by law”. It should be noted that a charge of unlawfully doing GBH does not require any proof of intent. It is also important to note that it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that the defendant was the sole cause of the injury. As the High Court decided in 1991 case Royall v The Queen, conduct that constitutes a significant or substantial cause of the injury can be enough.

In Queensland, dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm is a serious criminal offence that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. In order for you to be convicted of an offence of dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm, the police must prove that:

  • You were driving a motor vehicle, or you interfered with someone who was, and;
  • your driving, or interference, was dangerous, and;
  • as a result of your driving or interference, another person was killed or suffered grievous bodily harm.

Aggravated circumstances

In some cases certain facts will be treated as ‘aggravating’ and therefore deserving of increased punishment. In GBH offences, aggravating circumstances includes where:

  • A person is a participant in a criminal organisation and is convicted of causing GBH. This can result in the imposition of a minimum of seven years’ imprisonment in actual custody, on top of the sentence for unlawfully causing GBH.
  • If the GBH offence was committed in a public place while the person was adversely affected by an intoxicating substance. In this event, community service must be ordered as part of the punishment, whether or not the court imposes another punishment.
  • If the GBH is part of a ‘domestic violence offence’, the court will treat this fact as an aggravating factor unless it is not reasonable because of the exceptional circumstances of the case.

What are the defences to a GBH charge?

There are a number of possible defences available to someone charged with a GBH offence. The guidance of a criminal lawyer with experience in this area is highly advised in order to work out the best strategy to defend any charge.

It is up to the prosecution to establish all the elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘default’ defence in criminal matters.

Other common defences to GBH include:

Accident: If an ‘event’ occurs that the person does not intend or foresee as a possible consequence, and an ordinary person would not reasonably foresee as a possible consequence, then a person may have a defence to a charge of GBH. But a person is not excused from criminal responsibility for GBH that results to a victim because of a physical defect, weakness or abnormality, even though the offender does not intend or reasonably foresee the death or grievous bodily harm.

Self-defence: This defence is divided into whether you were subject to an unprovoked assault, or provoked an assault. In terms of the former, Section 271 of the Criminal Code makes it legal for a person to use such force as is reasonably necessary to defend them against an unprovoked assault. The force used must not be intended or likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm, and must be proportionate. If the person being assaulted reasonably fears that their attacker may cause death or grievous bodily harm, that person can use necessary force to defend themselves (or the person being attacked) even if the force causes the death of, or grievous bodily harm to, the attacker.

Mistake of fact: A person is not criminally responsible if they did something based upon an honest and reasonable mistake of fact.

Extraordinary emergency: A person is not criminally responsible for an act or omission done under a sudden or extraordinary emergency that an ordinary person, possessing ordinary powers of self-control, could not reasonably be expected to act otherwise.

Insanity: A person is insane and not criminally responsible if they are deprived of one or more of the following capacities: understand what they are doing; control of their actions; know that they ought not to be doing it.

There are other defences as well and again, an experienced criminal lawyer will be able to determine which may suit the offence you’ve been charged with.

The need for good representation

Clearly, a charge of GBH is a very serious matter and requires expert legal advice and guidance. Hannay Lawyers has many years of experience dealing with the Queensland criminal justice system, calling on an extensive knowledge of relevant laws and the vital practical experience of appearing in many Queensland courts on behalf of people charged with such offences.

If you’ve found yourself in the difficult position of facing a GBH charge, or are trying to help someone who is, contact our Brisbane or Gold Coast offices today on (07) 3184 2323 for a free initial consultation.

Charged with a Criminal Offence

What to Do When Charged with a Criminal Offence

By | Criminal Law

Whether it’s your first time or you already have a criminal record, being charged with a criminal offence can be one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life. An experienced criminal lawyer, however, can alleviate at least some of this burden by lending their knowledge and support to your situation, ensuring that your rights are protected and all legal requirements are met.

Being charged with an offence

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your offence, the charging process can markedly differ. There are three primary methods by which a person may be charged: by notice to appear, through complaint and summons, or via arrest.

Notice to Appear: You may  receive a notice to appear in court. This notice may be issued immediately by the police and will generally describe the alleged offence with which you are being charged, without the particulars.

Complaint and Summons: If you are charged via a complaint and summons, you will likely not need to visit the police station as these charges are sworn under oath by a justice of the peace. When faced with a complaint and summons, you will need to appear in court in the following weeks, depending upon the severity of the charge and the immediacy of the summons.

Arrest: The most commonly thought-of form of charge, an arrest often involves force as it requires taking the accused into custody. Formal charges will be issued after the accused is taken to a police station or watch house.

Types of criminal charges

There are two kinds of criminal charge that you may be served with: simple offences, or crimes and misdemeanours. The type of offence that you are charged with will affect the method by which you’re charged. The more serious the crime, the more immediate your charge will be. For instance, an offender who commits assault is likely to be charged while being arrested, whereas an offender who commits a traffic offence will likely receive a Notice to Appear.

Simple Offences (also known as Summary Offences): These can include minor infractions such as disorderly conduct and traffic offences.

Crimes and Misdemeanours (also known as Indictable Offences): These cover more serious infractions, including (but not limited to) robbery, murder, and assault.

How will you plead?

Once charged with a crime, you will need to decide how you will plead: guilty, or not guilty. The way you plead is of crucial importance and at this stage, you will definitely benefit from the professional advice and expertise of a lawyer experienced in criminal law.

Guilty: Pleading guilty is generally a straightforward process, though it is important to make sure that you understand in full the charges being leveled against you and the implications thereof.

Not Guilty: Pleading not guilty is a more elaborate process as, once you enter this plea, you will be required to take the matter to trial. In preparation for trial, you and your lawyer will need to carefully review the details of your case, including the evidence the police have against you and the prosecution documents.

There are strict time limits, legal requirements, and detailed arguments to be made after being charged with a criminal offence. The most important thing you can do to pursue your best interests is to fully understand the charges you are accused of, the implications of these charges, and your potential plea options.

You can count on a professionally trained criminal lawyer Brisbane to represent your best interests and help clarify your options moving forward. Hannay Lawyers are specialists in criminal matters so contact us today on (07) 3184 2323.

police search of your property

A Police Search of Your Property – What You Need to Know

By | Criminal Law, General News, Major Criminal Law

The police do not have limitless rights when it comes to searching people or their property.

Laws are in place to protect everyone – including you – from law enforcement officials overstepping their bounds. The following will give you the basics of your rights when it comes to a police search of your property.

The Police Don’t Always Need a Warrant

There are circumstances when the police can enter your home without requiring a warrant. These include –
– Handing over or serve a legal document
– In urgent circumstances, for example, injury to a person
– To investigate a traffic offence, for example, to take a breath test for alcohol
– To catch someone who has escaped from prison or from being arrested
– To search for evidence if they reasonably suspect it may otherwise be hidden or destroyed
– To arrest someone
– To reach a crime scene
– To detain someone under an anti-terrorism ‘preventative detention order’—if they reasonably believe that the person they’re looking for is on your property
But if none of these circumstances applies, and should they not have a warrant, you have a right to refuse entry to the police. All you need to do is clearly state that you do not grant permission for the police to enter your property, and if possible say so in front of a witness. Should the police still insist on entering, or if you disagree with the validity of their claims, contact your lawyer immediately.

Warrants Come with Terms and Conditions

Search warrants do not give the police blanket authority to do anything they want inside your home. The warrant will explain exactly what the police are allowed to do and may include digging up a portion of your property, opening locked items if needs be, searching individuals on the premises, or removing wall or ceiling panels. However, if it is not included on the warrant, then the police are not allowed to do it without additional authorisation. Ask for a copy of the warrant, and contact your lawyer.

The Police Can Only Stay for a ‘Reasonable’ Time

This means, that if the warrant to search your property says that the police can enter your home and arrest an individual, they can only stay for the time required to carry out that activity. It could be said that if the police then sit down and begin questioning the individual, that they have gone past the reasonable allocated time and could be asked to leave. In these circumstances, contact your criminal lawyer and ask their advice.

caught out drug driving

Drug Driving: Could YOU Be Caught Out 

By | Criminal Law, General News, Major Criminal Law

The number of drivers being charged with drug driving is on the rise.

Queensland Police have carried out a number of ‘blitzes’ and advertising campaigns designed to educate the driving public. Most people are now aware that roadside saliva tests can be carried out by police in the same way as an alcohol breath test. What is less well known is what substances the tests will identify, and what is considered an illicit drug.

1. Saliva Samples Don’t Test for Everything…Yet

At the moment, the saliva sample will test for known active ingredients in certain drugs –

  • Methylamphetamine – Speed or ice
  • MDMA—Active ingredient in ecstasy
  • THC—Active ingredient in cannabis

Of course, this test is always being improved, and it’s unsafe to assume that other drugs won’t be identifiable through a saliva sample in the near future. There may also be other tests introduced to broaden the number of testable substances.

2. Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs

The Queensland Government warns members of the public not to drive under the influence of ANY substance – including some prescription medications.  It’s important to read the warnings associated with your medications and to take them seriously. Importantly, if you are pulled over by the police, and they ask about your prescription medication then do not make any statement that may incriminate you. The police may rely on your admission at a later date.

3. Breath Test Rules Apply to the Saliva Test

The rumour that you are not legally obligated to provide a saliva sample for drug testing is simply not true. In fact, failing to do so will – in all likelihood – make things much worse for you. Failing to provide a sample will result in you being fined and potentially imprisoned. You may also be charged with driving under the influence of drugs, despite no sample being present.

Drug driving charges are serious; in that, they may come with other drugs charges attached, such as possession, or worse.

If you are charged with any drug offence, ask to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible and contact criminal lawyers Brisbane at Hannay Lawyers HERE.

possessing dangerous drugs

Possessing Dangerous Drugs – What You Need to Know 

By | Criminal Law, Major Criminal Law

Possessing Dangerous Drugs – What You Need to Know

Drug possession laws have been designed, over time, to remove any potential loopholes. They are intentionally broad and include a significant amount of leeway, allowing law enforcement officials to make assumptions when building a case against you.  Of course, the following article is generic advice only and does not take your personal circumstances into consideration. If you require legal assistance, please contact us directly.

Here are just a few things you need to know about the possession of dangerous drugs, and the related laws:

1. Possession Means “Control” and “Knowledge”

In court, the onus will be on the prosecution to prove that you had knowledge of a dangerous drug, and that you also had control of it. Where many defendants get confused is the definition of control. For example, the drug does not need to be on your person in order for control to be proven. Nor does it need to be in your primary residence, or personal motor vehicle. According to the law, control simply means that you have the ability to gain physical access to it.

Dangerous Drugs are Broadly Defined

While you are probably aware that dangerous drugs are, “graded,” for their severity, the law has been tailored to accommodate for drugs that don’t fall into any of the existing categories. For example, if you are found to be in possession of a drug that has a similar chemical makeup, effect, or other pharmacological similarities, then it can still be defined as a dangerous drug. In other words, don’t think that just because the type of drug you are in possession of isn’t a chemical match for any of the drugs that exist on the list, that you won’t be convicted of a crime.

There are Defences Open to You

The law is not one-dimensional, and there are opportunities for you to defend yourself. This may include proving that the drug was not, in fact, dangerous, or that you were forced to possess the substance against your will. You may also be able to take the approach that you weren’t aware that the substance you were in possession of was dangerous.

At Hannay Lawyers, we have extensive experience in drug and banned substance cases.

To talk to one of our team about your case and the avenues open to you, please contact our Brisbane criminal lawyers.

your rights criminal law

Your Rights When Charged Under Criminal Law

By | Criminal Law

If you’ve been charged under criminal law, you will be introduced to a process that can feel overwhelming.

The purpose of this article is to help you understand your rights and to offer some generalistic tips. Importantly, if you are charged with a crime then your first step should be to get legal advice; an experienced criminal lawyer will be able to guide you through the process and explain the implications of any actions you may be considering.

  1. This is Not an American Crime Show

In Queensland, unless the police want to question you in relation to a serious offence, they are under no obligation to “read you your rights.” If arrested, you will be told that you are under arrest and the reason or reasons they are arresting you. Regardless of this, you do have the right to remain silent but you still must tell the police –

– Your name and address

Failure to do so may result in additional charges.

Importantly, they cannot coerce a confession from you by making promises or threatening you, nor can they formally interview without informing you have the right to lawyer, a family member or friend.

Follow the directions of the police officers, tell them who you are, ask for the charges in writing and tell them you wish to speak to a lawyer.

  1. Don’t Assume Anything

If you have been arrested and feel that your rights have been breached, remember there is a time and a place for everything. Do not attempt to rectify the situation in the police car, or – more importantly, resist arrest, as this may result in additional charges. If you have been injured during your arrest, make your Lawyer aware and take pictures of your injuries, you may also wish to ask to see a doctor if your injuries are severe.

Most importantly, pay attention to everything so that you can explain it clearly to your lawyer when you speak with them.

  1. Without an Arrest, Nothing Happens

If the police ask you to accompany them to the police station, you have the right to refuse. In fact, the only time you are obligated to accompany police is when you have been formally arrested. Ask the police to clearly explain whether you are being arrested or asked to accompany them to the police station. If it is the latter, tell them you will speak to your lawyer before taking any further action. it may be that should you refuse to attend, then they will place you under arrest, at which time you are compelled, if you refuse you may be charged with further offences.

In all matters, do your best to comply with police, pay attention to both the charges against you and the circumstances of your arrest, and ask for legal representation as soon as possible.