Believe it or not, it happens. Being in a wrong place at a wrong time and making wrong decisions could play a big role in your life. Such circumstances might lead to being locked down in jail for a long period of time or a highly publicized trial that can and will have an impact in your reputation as an individual. In short, getting charged with a criminal offence is not and will never be easy. But what happens when you get criminal charges?
What are the laws and order of things? There're two categories of criminal offences that you should be aware of: summary (less serious) and indictable (very serious) offences. The less serious or summary offences include drunk driving, property damage, and minor assaults. On the other hand, indictable offences include drug trafficking, indecent acts, manslaughter and murder.
Criminal law dictates that an investigation will take place and depending on the outcome, you may be formally charged. When you are charged with a criminal summary offence, your case will be heard in the Magistrates' Court and will begin with the mention hearing. If you plead "guilty" during the mention hearing, the sentencing is almost always done on the same day. If you plead "not guilty," the matter will move on to the contest mention, which is the preliminary hearing and then progress to the contested hearing, which is when both parties present their case.
Relatedly, indictable charges are usually heard before a judge and jury in the country courts. Indictable charges begin with the committal mention wherein a date for the committal hearing and the required witness is determined. After that, the committal will decide if the presented evidence is sufficient enough for a trial. If, however, the prosecutor fails to present ample evidence, the case will be dismissed.
Get Legal Representation - For any offence, even for summary charges, you should always have proper legal support. Those who cannot afford their own solicitors may be given legal aid, which is free. However, whenever possible a top law firm that specialises in handling criminal offences would be a better option. As you may know, many public defenders may be overloaded with cases and you may not be able to get the dedicated attention your specific case needs. A private criminal lawyer would have more resources to manage your case, and hopefully secure a favourable verdict.
Your legal supporter should also be with you all throughout the proceedings. He or she should also be able to explain each and every detail of the case, especially each step that you have to endure. He or she should also be realistic enough and prepare you for whatever chances you have and for what might happen during your case.
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Article Added on Saturday, June 7, 2014
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