Knowing your rights and how to effectively communicate with the police is vital, especially if you’ve been charged with or are a witness to a crime. It ensures you are prepared in case you get in trouble and the nuances can make a significant difference in the outcomes of your situation.

The Right to Silence

While there’s no constitutional right to silence in Australia, there is a privilege against self-incrimination as defined in common law. This right applies not only in criminal trials, but also when you are suspected of a crime or in civil legal proceedings. The right to silence is designed to protect a person from being forced to testify against or incriminate themselves. However, this right is not absolute. 

There are some situations where the government can require a person to provide information, even if it could incriminate them. This includes certain corporate, workplace safety, and government investigations, or if there is physical evidence against you. On top of this, the police still have the right to ask you basic questions, and if you refuse to answer these basic queries you may be breaking the law. Let’s take a closer look.

When Can I Not Remain Silent?

When interacting with the police, there are certain situations where you are required to provide basic personal information:

Identifying Yourself

When the police ask you basic questions, such as your name and address, you must provide this information, even if you don’t want to answer other questions. The officer must warn you that it is an offence to not provide factual information. 

Drug-Related Matters

If the police suspect you are involved in a drug-related offence, they may request your place and date of birth. Providing this information is typically required in such cases.

Traffic Violations and Accidents

If the police suspect you have broken traffic laws or if you have witnessed an accident, they have broad powers to gather information from you. This can include details about your involvement or observations.

Special Offences

Under specific laws, such as the Liquor Act or organised crime legislation, the police may have additional powers to ask you questions and require information.

When to Invoke Your Right to Silence

If none of the above situations are relevant, here is when you can (and should) invoke your right to silence). 

Police Questioning

If the police stop you on the street or bring you in for questioning, you can refuse to answer any of their questions. You do not have to provide a written statement either.

Government Investigations

If you are called to testify before a government body like the Independent Commission Against Corruption, you can invoke your right to silence and refuse to answer questions, unless the law specifically requires you to provide information.

Workplace Investigations

Even in corporate or workplace investigations, such as under workplace health and safety laws, you can generally assert your right to silence and refuse to answer questions, unless you are legally obligated to do so.

Informal Situations

The right to silence applies not just in formal legal proceedings, but also in more informal situations where authorities may try to question you. You can invoke your right to remain silent in these contexts as well.

The right to silence is a fundamental legal protection in Australia. You can generally refuse to answer questions or provide information that could potentially incriminate you, unless there is a specific law requiring you to do so. Seeking legal advice is recommended if you are unsure of your rights in a particular situation, and if you’re after the best criminal lawyers in SE QLD, contact us today.

Going To The Police Station

Remember that you do not have to go to a police station unless you are under arrest. This is true even if the police call you or visit your place of residence and ask you to visit the police station. If the police try and convince you to come to the police station, you can ask if you are under arrest and if they say no, then you simply don’t have to go. That being said, here are some cases of when you might go to the police station and how to not get into trouble while you are there: 

Voluntary Visits

If you choose to visit a police station voluntarily, such as to report a crime or provide information, it’s crucial to be mindful of your rights. You have the right to have a lawyer present during any questioning or interviews. It’s advisable to consult with a criminal defence lawyer before making any statements, as anything you say could potentially be used against you.

Investigative Interviews

If the police request that you come to the station for an investigative interview, you should exercise your right to have a lawyer present. Politely inform the officers that you will not answer any questions without your lawyer. Avoid making any statements or admissions, as this could jeopardise your legal position.

Arrest and Detention

If you are arrested and taken to the police station, it’s crucial to remain calm and assert your rights. You have the right to remain silent and the right to have a lawyer present during any questioning. Refrain from making any statements without your lawyer, as they could be used as evidence against you.

Requesting a Lawyer

If you are at the police station and wish to have a lawyer present, clearly and firmly state this request. The police are required to facilitate your access to legal counsel. Insist on speaking with a lawyer before answering any questions or providing any information.

Bail and Release

If you are detained at the police station, you may be eligible for bail or release. Your lawyer can assist in negotiating the terms of your release and ensuring your rights are protected throughout the process.

Preparing for a Police Interview

When facing a police interview, it’s crucial to understand your rights and options. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

  1. Seek legal advice first: If you are a suspect, it’s usually best to avoid an interview until you’ve had the chance to speak with a criminal defence lawyer. They can advise you on the best approach.
  2. Understand the risks: Anything you say during the interview will be recorded and can be used as evidence against you in court. It’s extremely difficult to get an interview thrown out later, even if you feel you’ve been misunderstood or pressured.
  3. Prepare for potential consequences: The police may start by questioning you about one charge, but your responses could lead them to bring additional, more serious charges. Even if you think the interview won’t hurt your case, it rarely helps.
  4. Know your rights: You have the right to have a private lawyer present, though they cannot interfere in the interview itself. The police must also allow you a reasonable amount of time, usually up to 2 hours, to contact a lawyer before the interview begins.
  5. Beware of police tactics: The police do not have to be truthful with you about what they know regarding the alleged incident. They may use various tactics to try to get you to incriminate yourself.

The bottom line is that you should be extremely cautious about participating in a police interview, even if you believe you have done nothing wrong. The risks often outweigh any potential benefits. Seeking legal advice is the best way to protect your rights and interests.

When to Seek Legal Counsel

In many situations, it’s advisable to have a criminal defence lawyer present when interacting with the police. This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • If you are the subject of a criminal investigation or have been arrested. 
  • If the police request to search your property or question you about a crime.
  • If you are unsure of your rights or how to properly assert them. 
  • If you have been charged with a criminal offence and need legal representation.

If you’re seeking legal advice or representation in Queensland, Donnelly Law Group is here to help. Contact us today, and let our experienced criminal lawyers in Queensland guide you through your legal challenges with confidence and skill. 

In Queensland, drug charges are governed by the Drugs Misuse Act 1986, which outlines various charges related to the possession, supply, production, and trafficking of illegal substances. The Act categorises drugs into different schedules, with penalties varying based on the type of drug, the quantity involved, and the nature of the offence.

Queensland recently introduced a three-strike rule when it comes to the possession of small quantities of illicit substances. 

The Three Strike Rule

In April 2023, the Queensland Government expanded its Police Drug Diversion program to cover all drugs. This now means there is a tiered approach to minor drug possessions: 

  • 1st minor drug-possession offence – a police officer issues a warning, accompanied by a drug warning notice and a police referral to a support service.
  • 2nd and 3rd minor drug-possession offence – a police officer offers the opportunity for the person to participate in a mandatory Drug Diversion Assessment Program.
  • 4th minor drug-possession offence – a police officer issues the offender with a notice to appear in court.

The focus is on treating drug issues as health problems, especially for the youth. This change aims to save police time for serious crimes like trafficking, which now faces a life sentence, up from 25 years. The program is part of a larger $1.645 billion mental health and drug service improvement plan, including a focus on First Nations peoples.

Frameworks of Drug Charges

Type of drug: Classified under schedules in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987, the type of drug significantly impacts the legal consequences. More on this below. 

Quantity: Larger quantities often lead to more severe charges, such as trafficking, compared to possession.

Possession: Holding illegal drugs for personal use. It’s one of the most common drug offences, with penalties depending on the type and quantity of the drug.

Supply and trafficking: Involves distributing or selling illegal drugs. Trafficking, considered more severe, entails ongoing engagement in the supply of drugs.

Production and manufacturing: The creation or cultivation of illegal drugs, including growing cannabis or manufacturing substances like methamphetamine. 

Personal circumstances: The court also considers the offender’s personal circumstances, including their criminal history, rehabilitation efforts, and the impact of potential sentences on their life.

What Is the Penalty for a Drug Offence in Queensland?

The penalty for a drug offence depends on the type of drug and amount in question and scales from there. 

Possessing Drugs

The act of possessing dangerous drugs is sanctioned under section 9 of the Drugs Misuse Act, with penalties escalating based on the drug’s type and quantity. For less severe cases handled in the Magistrate Court, the maximum penalty is 3 years of imprisonment. However, more severe instances adjudicated in higher courts can lead to much longer imprisonment terms.

For example:

  • Cannabis possession can attract up to 15 years imprisonment for amounts less than 500 grams or 100 plants, and up to 20 years for more than 500 grams or 100 plants.
  • Cocaine possession penalties can escalate to up to 15 years for less than two grams, 20 years for more than two grams, and 25 years for possessing 200 grams or more.

*A drug-dependent person at the time of the offence may be subject to a lesser maximum penalty, reflecting the court’s discretion based on individual circumstances.

Supplying Drugs

Supplying dangerous drugs, as defined under section 6 of the Act, carries a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment when summarily dealt with in the Magistrates Court. This offence requires the prosecution to prove that the accused knowingly supplied a dangerous drug without a lawful excuse. For aggravated cases involving large quantities or supply under aggravated circumstances, such as to a child, the offence is elevated to aggravated supply and handled in the Supreme Court, where penalties can reach from 15 years to life imprisonment.

Trafficking Drugs

Defined under section 5, drug trafficking carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, depending on the trafficked drug. The scale of the commercial operation influences the charge, with smaller operations between individuals more likely resulting in a charge of supplying a dangerous drug rather than trafficking.

Producing Dangerous Drugs

Offences against section 8, involving the production of dangerous drugs, attract penalties ranging between 15 and 25 years of imprisonment, varying with the type and quantity of the drug. Conviction under this provision requires proof that the individual knowingly took part in the drug’s preparation, manufacture, cultivation, packaging, or production without a lawful excuse.

These penalties underscore the severe stance Queensland law takes against drug offences, reflecting the societal and health implications associated with dangerous drugs. Given the complexity of the legal system and the significant impact of these penalties on individuals’ lives, securing experienced legal representation is crucial for anyone facing drug charges.

Sentencing for Drug Offences

Queensland courts have a range of sentencing options for drug offences, from fines and community service to imprisonment. For more serious charges, such as trafficking Schedule 1 drugs, sentences can be as severe as life sentences. However, for possession of small quantities for personal use, penalties will be less severe, and begin with diversion programs aimed at rehabilitation, as mentioned previously.

Implications of a Conviction

Beyond immediate penalties, a drug conviction can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s employment opportunities, travel plans, and social reputation. It underscores the importance of obtaining expert legal representation to navigate the complexities of the legal system and seek the most favourable outcome possible.

What to Do If You’re Charged with Possession of Drugs in Queensland?

Being charged with a drug offence in Queensland is a serious matter with potentially severe consequences. Every day, we assist individuals in consulting their drug offence issues to achieve the most favourable outcomes, aiming to restore their careers, licences, travel visas, and public image promptly. If you’re seeking legal advice or representation in Queensland, Donnelly Law Group is here to help. Contact us today, and let our experienced criminal lawyers in Queensland guide you through your legal challenges with confidence and skill.

In all Australian states, the maximum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving is 0.05. This means that you can have a BAC up to this level and still drive. However, understanding how many standard drinks you can have and still drive is a little more complex. 

What is BAC? How is it calculated? How many standard drinks can you have and still be under the limit? Does it apply to everyone? This blog will cover everything you need to know about BAC and standard drinks, ensuring you keep yourself, your loved ones, and those you share the road with safe. 

What is BAC?

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) represents the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream, measured as grams of alcohol per 100ml of blood. So a reading of 0.05 means you have 0.05 grams of alcohol per 100ml of blood, or 0.05%. This is what breathalysers measure (and breathalysers are generally accurate to +/- 10% of the value, so if you blow 0.05 it could be as low as 0.045 or as high as 0.055). 

To roughly estimate BAC, people can use online calculators. These provide an approximation based on inputted data. Bear in mind these are inaccurate and your BAC is likely to be significantly higher or lower than the output of these calculators. They should never be relied on when deciding whether to drive after drinking alcohol or not. 

What is A Standard Drink?

A standard drink is equal to 10 grams of pure alcohol. This measure helps to track alcohol consumption more accurately, regardless of the type of alcohol consumed, aiding in making informed choices about alcohol intake and staying within safe consumption limits. 

Let’s look at some examples. 

Calculating Standard Drinks

In Australia, all alcohol bought from a bottle shop must have the number of standard drinks contained within it written somewhere on the label. But the calculation itself is fairly easy. 

Let’s take a schooner of 4% beer. A schooner is 425ml or 0.425 litres, and the standard gravity of alcohol (the density of alcohol as compared to water) is 0.789. So, the equation is:

0.425 × 4 × 0.789 = 1.34

We then round this to 1.3. So one schooner of 4% beer is equal to 1.3 standard drinks. 

Now let’s also look at a glass of wine. 

A standard glass of wine in a restaurant is usually about 150ml. If we’re drinking a big Aussie Shiraz at 14.5% then the equation would be:

0.150 × 14.5 × 0.789 = 1.71

So one glass of a strong red wine is equal to 1.7 standard drinks.

How Many Standard Drinks to Drive?

A commonly used guideline suggests different rules of thumb for men and women. For men, the QLD government recommends no more than two standard drinks in the first hour and no more than one every hour after that. For women, they recommend no more than one standard drink in the first hour and no more than one every hour after that.

However, please note that this is just a rough estimate; alcohol content varies significantly across beverages, and the actual strength of mixed drinks can differ greatly depending on the mix. On top of this, other factors affect your BAC such as body weight, whether you’ve eaten recently, and more.

Does It Apply to Everyone?

The standard of 0.05 BAC applies to drivers of cars, light trucks, and motorcycle riders across various states and territories, ensuring a consistent benchmark for legal driving capabilities. 

However, specific groups, such as learners and provisional drivers, are required to adhere to a 0.00 BAC limit. These strict measures are in place to combat drink driving and enhance road safety. 

Specialised categories of drivers, including those operating heavy vehicles like trucks, public passenger vehicles like taxis and buses, and drivers carrying dangerous goods must also maintain a 0.00 BAC.

Factors That Affect BAC

Determining the exact number of standard drinks you can consume before driving without exceeding the legal BAC limit is impossible, due to the following factors:

Age

As you age, both liver efficiency and the body’s water content decrease, leading to alcohol lingering longer in the body. This results in a slower alcohol metabolism rate.

Sex 

Research shows that enzyme levels in the body play a critical role in alcohol breakdown. Typically, males have higher enzyme levels than females, which enhances their ability to metabolise alcohol more efficiently. As a result, biological sex at birth significantly impacts alcohol tolerance.

Size and Metabolism

Individuals with a larger body size tend to be able to tolerate larger amounts of alcohol. Additionally, metabolism speed influences alcohol processing. Also, muscle – having more water content than fat – dilutes alcohol in the blood, meaning that those with higher muscle mass can generally tolerate more alcohol.

Food Intake and Empty Stomach 

Consuming alcohol on an empty stomach can lead to quicker absorption into the bloodstream, potentially raising your BAC to higher levels compared to drinking after eating. Food in the stomach slows the absorption of alcohol, moderating its effects.

Medication 

Medications can interfere with how the body absorbs and metabolises alcohol, as both may require liver processing. This competition can slow alcohol breakdown, potentially increasing BAC levels. It’s crucial to consult healthcare professionals when mixing alcohol and medications to prevent serious reactions.

Can You Lower BAC Quickly?

Reducing BAC levels more rapidly isn’t feasible through any quick-fix methods. The liver metabolises alcohol at a consistent rate, approximately one standard drink per hour. Attempts to lower BAC faster, such as drinking coffee or taking cold showers, are ineffective. The only sure way to reduce BAC is time; allowing the body to process and eliminate the alcohol naturally. It’s crucial to plan accordingly, considering this fixed rate, to ensure safety and legality when drinking and potentially driving later.

Seek Legal Advice At Donnelly Law Group

Every day, we assist individuals in consulting their drink driving issues to achieve the most favourable outcomes, aiming to restore their licences and livelihood promptly. Our support extends to a diverse group, including workers concerned about their careers, parents, and carers dependent on driving, commercial drivers, and those with or without prior convictions. We understand the broader implications of a criminal record on employment, travel, and insurance. 

If you’re seeking legal advice or representation in Queensland, Donnelly Law Group is here to help. Contact us today, and let our experienced criminal lawyers in Queensland guide you through your legal challenges with confidence and skill.

Processes and requirements may vary between each matter, but there is an underlying commonality that links everything together – the terms used.

For anyone with a first time offence or limited exposure to the judicial system, it can feel like information overload and trying to remember what every term means only adds to the stress. We’ve put together a list of the common legal terms you’ll most likely come across through the process, along with what each of them means.
Please feel free to bookmark this page for quick reference!

associate” in reference to a solicitor means:

  • a partner, employee, or agent of the solicitor or of the solicitor’s law practice;
  • a corporation or partnership in which the solicitor has a material beneficial interest;
  • in the case of the solicitor’s incorporated legal practice, a director of the incorporated legal practice or of a subsidiary of the incorporated legal practice;
  • a member of the solicitor’s immediate family; or
  • a member of the immediate family of a partner of the solicitor’s law practice or of the immediate family of a director of the solicitor’s incorporated legal practice or a subsidiary of the incorporated legal practice.

associated entity” means an entity that is not part of the law practice but which provides legal or administrative services to a law practice, including but not limited to:

  • a service trust or company; or
  • a partnerships of law practices operating under the same trading name or a name which includes all or part of the trading name of the law practice.

Australian legal practitioner” means an Australian lawyer who holds or is taken to hold an Australian practising certificate.

“Australian practising certificate” means a current practising certificate granted under the legal profession legislation of any Australian jurisdiction.

Australian-registered foreign lawyer” has the same meaning as set out in legal profession legislation.

Australian roll” means a roll of practitioners maintained under the legal profession legislation of any Australian jurisdiction.

Authorised Deposit-taking Institution” has the same meaning as an Authorised Deposittaking Institution within the meaning of the Banking Act 1959 (Cth).

Blood Alcohol Concentration” (BAC) is the volume of alcohol in your blood, and is measured as a percentage of alcohol in 100ml of blood.

barrister” means an Australian legal practitioner whose Australian practising certificate is subject to a condition that the holder is authorised to engage in legal practice as or in the manner of a barrister only.
case” means:

  • the court proceedings for which the solicitor is engaged; or
  • the dispute in which the solicitor is advising.

client” with respect to the solicitor or the solicitor’s law practice means a person (not an instructing solicitor) for whom the solicitor is engaged to provide legal services for a matter.

client documents” means documents to which a client is entitled.

compromise” includes any form of settlement of a case, whether pursuant to a formal offer under the rules or procedure of a court, or otherwise.

corporate solicitor” means an Australian legal practitioner who engages in legal practice only in the capacity of an in-house lawyer for his or her employer or a related entity.

costs” includes disbursements.

court” means:

  • any body described as such;
  • any tribunal exercising judicial, or quasi-judicial, functions;
  • a professional disciplinary tribunal;
  • an industrial tribunal;
  • an administrative tribunal;
  • an investigation or inquiry established or conducted under statute or by a Parliament;
  • a Royal Commission;
  • an arbitration or mediation or any other form of dispute resolution.

current proceedings” means proceedings which have not been determined, including proceedings in which there is still the real possibility of an appeal or other challenge to a decision being filed, heard or decided.

discrimination” means discrimination that is unlawful under the applicable state, territory or federal anti-discrimination or human rights legislation.

disqualified person” means any of the following persons whether the thing that has happened to the person happened before or after the commencement of this definition:

  • a person whose name has (whether or not at his or her own request) been removed from an Australian roll and who has not subsequently been admitted or re-admitted to the legal profession under legal profession legislation or a corresponding law;
  • a person whose Australian practising certificate has been suspended or cancelled under legal profession legislation or a corresponding law and who, because of the cancellation, is not an Australian legal practitioner or in relation to whom that suspension has not finished;
  • a person who has been refused a renewal of an Australian practising certificate under legal profession legislation or a corresponding law, and to whom an Australian practising certificate has not been granted at a later time;
  • a person who is the subject of an order under legal professional legislation or a corresponding law prohibiting a law practice from employing or paying the person in connection with the relevant practice;
  • a person who is the subject of an order under legal profession legislation or a corresponding law prohibiting an Australian legal practitioner from being a partner of the person in a business that includes the solicitor’s practice; or
  • a person who is the subject of any order under legal profession legislation or corresponding law, disqualifying them from managing an incorporated legal practice or from engaging in partnerships with certain partners who are not Australian legal practitioners.

drink driving” means to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of operating a motor vehicle. Offences are split into three categories with range for each category:

  • Low range: 0.05 to 0.099g of alcohol in 100ml of blood; or
  • Mid range: 0.10 to 0.149g of alcohol in 100ml of blood; or
  • High range: greater than 0.150g of alcohol in 100ml of blood.

drive under influence” commonly referred to as “DUI” and/or “DWI“ means to drive under the influence of:

  • alcohol above the legal blood alcohol concentration of your licence type; and/or
  • illegal drugs; and/or
  • prescription or over-the-counter medications that can affect your driving.

driving UIL” is another term used for a drink driving offence – see “drink driving

engagement” means the appointment of a solicitor or of a solicitor’s law practice to provide legal services for a matter.

employee” means a person who is employed or under a contract of service or contract for services in or by an entity whether or not:

  • the person works full-time, part-time, or on a temporary or casual basis; or
  • the person is a law clerk or articled clerk.

employer” in relation to a corporate solicitor means a person or body (not being another solicitor or a law practice) who or which employs the solicitor whether or not the person or body pays or contributes to the solicitor’s salary.

failure to provide sample” means the person has been unable and/or refused a lawful request to provide a breath or saliva specimen. The penalty is equivalent to a high range drink drive offence (see: “drink driving“ for range) and can result in:

  • disqualification; and/or
  • fine; and/or
  • jail time.

former client” for the purposes of Rule 10.1, may include a person or entity that has previously instructed:

  • the solicitor;
  • the solicitor’s current law practice;
  • the solicitor’s former law practice, while the solicitor was at the former law practice;
  • the former law practice of a partner, co-director or employee of the solicitor, while the partner, co-director or employee was at the former law practice, or, has provided confidential information to a solicitor, notwithstanding that the solicitor was not formally retained and did not render an account.

immediate family” means the spouse (which expression may include a de facto spouse or partner of the same sex), or a child, grandchild, sibling, parent or grandparent of a solicitor.
instructing solicitor” means a solicitor or law practice who engages another solicitor to provide legal services for a client for a matter.

insurance company” includes any entity, whether statutory or otherwise, which indemnifies persons against civil claims.

interlock” is the colloquial term for “Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program” applies to drivers who are convicted of high-risk drink driving offences. Participate in the interlock program is mandatory if you commit, and are convicted, of any of the following offences:

  • drive, or attempt to put in motion or be in charge of a vehicle under the influence of alcohol;
  • drive, or attempt to put in motion or be in charge of a vehicle with a blood/breath alcohol concentration of:
    • 0.15 or more
    • 0.10 or more (offences committed on or after 10 September 2021)
  • failing to provide a blood/breath specimen for analysis
  • dangerous driving while affected by alcohol
  • 2 or more drink driving offences within the 5 years.

law practice” means:

  • an Australian legal practitioner who is a sole solicitor;
  • a partnership of which the solicitor is a partner;
  • a multi-disciplinary partnership; or
  • an incorporated legal practice.

legal costs” means amounts that a person has been or may be charged by, or is or may become liable to pay to, a law practice for the provision of legal services including disbursements but not including interest.

legal profession legislation” means a law of a State or Territory that regulates legal practice and the provision of legal services.

legal services” means work done, or business transacted, in the ordinary course of legal practice.

managed investment scheme” has the same meaning as in Chapter 5C of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

matter” means any legal service the subject of an engagement or required to be provided by the solicitor or the solicitor’s law practice to fulfil an engagement and includes services provided for:

  • a case;
  • a dealing between parties that may affect, create or be related to a right, entitlement or interest in property of any kind; or
  • advice on the law.

multi-disciplinary partnership” means:

  • a partnership between one or more solicitors and one or more other persons who are not solicitors, where the business of the partnership includes the provision of legal services in this jurisdiction as well as other services;
  • but does not include:
  • a partnership consisting only of one or more solicitors and one or more Australian-registered foreign lawyers.

opponent” means:

  • the practitioner appearing for a party opposed to the client of the solicitor in question; or
  • that party, if the party is unrepresented.

order” includes a judgment, decision or determination.

party” includes each one of the persons or corporations who or which is jointly a party to any matter.

practitioner” means a person or law practice entitled to practise the profession of law.

principal” means a solicitor who is the holder of a principal practising certificate, within the meaning of legal profession legislation.

professional misconduct” includes:

  • unsatisfactory professional conduct of an Australian legal practitioner, where the conduct involves a substantial or consistent failure to reach or maintain a reasonable standard of competence and diligence; and
  • conduct of an Australian legal practitioner whether occurring in connection with the practice of law or occurring otherwise than in connection with the practice of law that would, if established, justify a finding that the solicitor is not a fit and proper person to engage in legal practice.

prosecutor” means a solicitor who appears for the complainant or Crown in criminal proceedings.

Queensland Traffic Offenders Program” commonly shortened to the acronym “QTOP” means the leading online and in-person training program for traffic offenders to undertake remedial learning, and may form part of a submission to a Magistrate in a clients’ defence to demonstrate a proactive approach to driver rehabilitation.

“regulatory authority” means an entity identified in legal profession legislation which has responsibility for regulating the activities of solicitors in that jurisdiction.

serious criminal offence” means an offence that is:

  • an indictable offence against a law of the Commonwealth or any jurisdiction (whether or not the offence is or may be dealt with summarily);
  • an offence against the law of another jurisdiction that would be an indictable offence against a law of this jurisdiction (whether or not the offence could be dealt with summarily if committed in this jurisdiction); or
  • an offence against the law of a foreign country that would be an indictable offence against a law of the Commonwealth or this jurisdiction if committed in this jurisdiction (whether or not the offence could be dealt with summarily if committed in this jurisdiction).

sexual harassment” means harassment that is unlawful under the applicable state, territory or federal anti-discrimination or human rights legislation.

solicitor” means:

  • an Australian legal practitioner who practises as or in the manner of a solicitor; or
  • an Australian registered foreign lawyer who practises as or in the manner of a solicitor.
  • “solicitor with designated responsibility” means the solicitor ultimately responsible for a client’s matter or the solicitor responsible for supervising the solicitor that has carriage of a client’s matter.

Special Hardship Order” or ‘SHO’ is a court order that allows you to continue to drive on your Queensland (Qld) driver licence under stated restrictions. These restrictions will include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • the purpose for which you may drive; and
  • the class of vehicle you may drive; and
  • the days and times you may drive; and
  • that you may only drive if carrying a copy of your SHO.

SPER” is the acronym for “State Penalties Enforcement Agency, a division of the Queensland Revenue Office and under the management of Queensland Treasury, is responsible for the collection and enforcement of unpaid:

  • infringement notice fines;
  • court-ordered monetary penalties; and
  • offender debt recovery orders.

substantial benefit” means a benefit which has a substantial value relative to the financial resources and assets of the person intending to bestow the benefit.

trustee company” is as defined in relevant jurisdictional legislation: the Trustee Companies Act 1964 (NSW), the Trustee Companies Act 1968 (QLD), the Trustee Companies Act 1984 (VIC), the Trustee Companies Act 1988 (SA), the Trustee Companies Act 1953 (TAS), the Trustee Companies Act 1987 (WA) and the Trustee Companies Act 1947 (ACT).

unsatisfactory professional conduct” includes conduct of an Australian legal practitioner occurring in connection with the practice of law that falls short of the standard of competence and diligence that a member of the public is entitled to expect of a reasonably competent Australian legal practitioner.

workplace bullying” means bullying that is unlawful under the applicable state or territory anti discrimination or human rights legislation. If no such legislative definition exists, it is conduct within the definition relied upon by the Australian Human Rights Commission to mean workplace bullying. In general terms it includes the repeated less favourable treatment of a person by another or others in the workplace, which may be considered unreasonable and inappropriate workplace practice. It includes behaviour that could be expected to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate.

If you have decided to plead guilty, you may be wondering if there is any point to hiring a lawyer. There can be serious consequences for a guilty charge and it pays to have an experienced lawyer on your side, guiding you through the process and working to ensure that your penalty places as little impact on your future as possible.

Why It’s So Important To Hire A Lawyer Even When Pleading Guilty

1. Professional Advice

If you’ve never faced a drink driving or drug driving charge before, it’s unlikely you’ll have an in-depth understanding of how court proceedings run and the possible penalties you are facing. A lawyer can explain the entire process to you and can lodge the necessary paperwork to help you obtain a work or hardship licence. If this is not the first time you’ve been charged with this type of offence, it’s highly recommended that you have legal representation to reduce the chances of you receiving a serious penalty such as jail time. A lawyer can advise you of the steps you should be taking before the court to show the magistrate that you understand the severity of your charge and are being proactive about making improvements.

2. Partners In Preparations

The key to minimising the repercussions of your charge is being prepared. You may think pleading guilty means turning up to court, everything will be over quickly and you can get on with your life, but often it’s not that simple. Depending on the severity of your offence, you could be facing long-term consequences such as not being able to travel overseas or find employment if a conviction is recorded. A lawyer can help you get prepared and put your best foot forward on the day.

3. Sentencing

The reality is if you have been charged with a drink or drug driving offence in Queensland, you will lose your licence and receive a fine at the minimum. A lawyer works in your best interests to present you to the court in a positive light. They can explain the circumstances which led up to the event and can notify the magistrate of character references that vouch for your otherwise good behaviour. This can lead to a lesser penalty and increase your chances of being granted a restricted licence if you need one.

4. Your Charges

If you have been charged with multiple offences and are pleading guilty in the hopes of receiving a lighter sentence, you may receive a harsher penalty than you actually should. The police might not have enough evidence to prove you guilty for some of the charges so you may not have to plead guilty. Your lawyer can negotiate with police and upon reviewing your file, find potential flaws in the evidence. Not having legal representation can see you potentially miss out on reducing or dismissing some of your charges. The fewer charges you have the better as a criminal record can be detrimental to your future. Why risk it?

Before You Plead Guilty Ensure That:

You have sought legal advice and your lawyer has obtained the police version of events. This will be presented to the magistrate. If you plead guilty, you are agreeing to the information noted in this. If you don’t agree with all the details mentioned, you need to advise your lawyer of this as soon as you can. Your lawyer can speak on your behalf.

Should I Plead Not Guilty?

Drink and drug driving charges are considered serious in Australia and the courts take a tough stance on such offences. There are very few circumstances where a not-guilty plea will be considered. Some instances may include:

  • You weren’t driving the vehicle at the time of the offence.
  • You believe you were not over the limit.
  • You have reason to believe the testing was inaccurate or wasn’t done correctly.
  • You were driving on private property at the time.

For most people, pleading not guilty does not benefit them, if anything it sees them receive a harsher penalty for not taking responsibility. If you believe you have a strong case to plead not guilty, you must have legal representation. They can argue your case to increase your chances of receiving an outcome you are happy with.

If you have been charged with a drunk or drug driving charge, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice to ensure you receive the best possible outcome and to reduce the long-term consequences. Contact the experts here at Donnelly Law Group today to discuss your options – we’re here to help, and we care.

Going to court for the first time can be daunting. Unless you have been to the Brisbane Magistrate Court before or know someone who has, you’ll most likely have no idea what to expect, where to go or what to do. The thought of the unknown is what many find so nerve-wracking.

Hiring an experienced traffic lawyer can make this process much less scary. They can walk you through the process and guide you on the steps you should be taking and when. More often than not, those who have legal representation for their drink driving charge will receive a lesser penalty.

Where is the Magistrates Court in Brisbane?

You’ll find the Brisbane Magistrates Court at 363 George Street. You mustn’t confuse this court with another Magistrate Court located on Roma Street – this location does not handle traffic matters.

What to expect when attending Brisbane Magistrates Court

Always arrive at court well before your scheduled court hearing. Once you have entered the Brisbane Magistrates Court, you will then need to go through the security checkpoint. Once through this, you’ll see a series of noticeboards. They will list where your matter is to be heard. You should then go to your designated courtroom.

Once you have arrived, the Police Prosecutor will typically ask whether you are pleading guilty, not guilty, or requesting for your matter to be adjourned. They will give what’s known as a QP9 document, and that will outline the alleged charges against you and other supporting documentation. While waiting, it’s a good idea to read the information listed in your QP9 document. If there’s anything documented that you believe is incorrect, you need to alert the Police Prosecutor to this,

Court commences once the Magistrate arrives. You’ll be required to stand when the ‘all rise’ call is made. You can then sit down again after Magistrate has taken their seat.

There is no set time that your hearing will be dealt with when going to court for a drink driving matter, you’ll be required to arrive as soon as the court opens, typically at 9 am and then it could be hours before your matter is heard. In most instances, those who have legal representation will be heard first. People seeking an adjournment will normally go next, and those pleading guilty will go last.

When your matter is called, you’ll need to get up and go to the table where the Police Prosecutor is. You’ll stand to the left; the Magistrate will ask you what you are pleading. You can then tell the Magistrate your decision, ensuring you address the Magistrate as “Your Honour”. They will confirm your plea and then request you sit down.

The Police Prosecutor will give the Magistrate a quick recap of the details outlined in the QP9 along with your breath analyst reading and traffic history. The Magistrate will then look at these documents and may or may not ask you questions relating to this. You will then be given the opportunity to supply the Magistrate with character references if you have them and explain the situation if you choose to.

After this, the Magistrate will normally notify you of your penalty for committing your drink driving offence. At a minimum, this will include a monetary fine and disqualification period. The Police Prosecutor will then ask for your driver’s licence which you must surrender. If you don’t have it on you, you must hand it in at Queensland Transport no later than a day after your licence has been disqualified in court. After this, you’ll be permitted to leave the court. Remember that you won’t be able to drive home from the court if your licence has been disqualified, so you’ll need to make alternative arrangements.

What if I can’t or don’t attend my court date?

Failing to attend court on the date that is recorded on your Notice to Appear may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest and additional charges being laid. If you cannot attend court, you should seek advice from a legal professional as soon as you can.

Why you should consider hiring a lawyer for your drink driving charge

You don’t have to hire a drink driving lawyer to represent you however, there are several benefits to doing so, such as:

  • It shows the Magistrate that you are taking your charge seriously.
  • Lawyers can obtain your QP9 documentation before your court date.
  • You won’t have to wait around all day to have your matter heard.
  • Your lawyer can organise the paperwork needed to apply for a work licence if you need one.
  • It can minimise the stress involved with going to court by organising the necessary paperwork, knowing what to expect, and your lawyer can speak on your behalf, so you don’t have to.
  • Your lawyer can fight to get you the least harsh penalty possible given your offence.

Here at Donnelly Law Group, we know Brisbane Magistrate Court well and we have years of experience representing those with traffic charges, drink driving included right across Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and South-East Queensland.

If you are facing a drink driving charge, don’t go at it alone. Queensland takes a no-nonsense approach to such charges, and the consequences can be serious. Don’t risk your future. Contact our expert team today. We offer free case reviews and can advise you of your options.

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