There has been a recent case in the media in which it is alleged that a 17-year-old accused broke into someone’s house and assaulted the occupant. The occupant ultimately died from the injuries of the alleged assault, and at the time of death, the accused had already turned 18 years old. You can read more about this case here: 

https://thewest.com.au/news/court-justice/teen-charged-over-odette-feiges-murder-in-swan-view-awaits-decision-on-adult-court-dilemma-ng-b881609404z

There has been an interesting legal jurisdiction question raised as to whether the accused’s legal matter should be heard in the Children’s Court, as he was 17 years old when the alleged assault occurred, or whether he should be heard in the adult court as he was 18 years old when the occupant died from injuries caused by the alleged assault. The legal question raised in this case is whether the “offence” occurred when the accused was a child or an adult.

In Western Australia, the Children’s Court deals with accused people who were under the age of 18 years when the alleged crime was committed. That means that children who are charged with criminal offences will be dealt with in the Children’s Court, as well as adults who are charged with having committed offences when they were younger.

Children as young as 10 years old can currently be arrested and charged and held in custody. This is called the age of criminal responsibility. If an accused child is between 10 years old and 14 years old, the police must prove in court that the child understood that their behaviour was wrong. A child over 14 years old can be held responsible for breaking the law, even if the child did not necessarily understand that what they were doing is wrong. You may have seen some discussion recently about calls to change the law to increase the age of criminal responsibility to 14. 

Proceedings in the Children’s Court run similarly to that in adult court, in that there is a prosecutor who represents the State and a Magistrate who hears the case. In more serious cases, the case may be heard before the President of the Children’s Court, who is able to impose more serious penalties.

Trials in the Children’s Court are heard by a Magistrate or the President. There is no jury. There is an allowance, however, for an accused person to elect for their trial to be heard in the District Court with a jury. In some cases, there may be good reasons for preferring a jury to determine your case depending on the subject matter and the issues that need to be decided.

The other thing to bear in mind is that the sentencing options differ in the Children’s Court. There are more options for sentencing available in the Children’s Court, and a lot more sentences aim for rehabilitation rather than punishment. 

We eagerly await the outcome of the legal argument as to whether the accused person’s criminal charge will be dealt with in the Children’s Court or the adult court. This could set an interesting precedent for future cases.

If you require any legal advice or representation for your Children’s Court or adult court criminal charge, we are available for consultation and representation.

 

There has been significant media attention regarding the Cardinal Pell judgment of the High Court earlier this year. You can read a summary of the judgment here (link to High Court summary https://www.hcourt.gov.au/assets/publications/judgment-summaries/2020/hca-12-2020-04-07.pdf)

Cardinal Pell was found guilty by a jury after trial in Victoria. He appealed against his conviction to the Victorian Court of Appeal. His appeal was run on the basis that the verdicts of the jury could not be supported by the evidence. 

The trial itself involved the complainant giving evidence, as well as several witnesses who testified about the usual practices and routines after Sunday Mass. The incidents alleged were said to have occurred shortly after Sunday Mass and the movements of people were relevant to determine whether there was an opportunity for the Cardinal to offend in the manner alleged.

The Victorian Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

Cardinal Pell went on to appeal to the High Court. The High Court determined that even if the complainant was found to be credible and reliable, the evidence of the other witnesses regarding movements after Sunday Mass still required the jury to have entertained a reasonable doubt as to whether the offending occurred.

The Cardinal also relied on the fact that to accept that the first offence occurred, required finding that:

  1. Contrary to his usual practice, he did not stand on the steps of the Cathedral after Mass to greet congregants for ten minutes or longer;
  2. Contrary to long-standing practice, he had returned unaccompanied to the sacristy in his vestments;
  3. No other person entered the sacristy in the five or six minutes that the complainants were in the Cathedral and until the end of the alleged offending;
  4. No one saw or took action to stop two robed choir boys leaving the procession and going back to the Cathedral. 

The points above demonstrate that the evidence as a whole was not capable of excluding a reasonable doubt. The High Court said that there was “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the reasonable standard of proof” and, accordingly, the convictions were quashed and judgments of acquittal entered. 

 

How Can I Appeal My Criminal Conviction In Western Australia?

Any person who is convicted or found guilty of an offence after trial has the right to lodge an appeal against that conviction.

Depending on which court your matter was heard in, there are different procedures for an appeal. For example, if you had a trial in the Magistrates Court and a Magistrate found you guilty after trial, you can lodge an appeal in the Supreme Court where a single Judge will hear your appeal. If, however, you stood trial before a Judge and jury in either the District Court or Supreme Court, you can file your appeal with the Court of Appeal, where three Judges will hear your appeal.

The High Court of Australia also hears appeals from State courts, including the Court of Appeal of Western Australia. 

 

Can I Appeal My Conviction If I Think The Magistrate Or Jury Got It Wrong In My Case?

 

Technically, yes, you can appeal a conviction if you say the jury got it wrong. However, you must be able to demonstrate that the Magistrate or Judge made a wrong legal decision, or that jury was given the wrong directions of law by the Judge, or that the evidence as a whole did not support a guilty verdict. In some cases, there may be several grounds of appeal.

It is important to note that an appeal is not a second go, or an attempt to try to run your case again because you feel it didn’t go well the first time. The court determining your appeal is concerned with whether something went wrong in your trial as a matter of law. That means you must give proper consideration to the grounds of appeal in your case, and whether there is merit in running an appeal at all. 

If you win your conviction appeal, your matter will usually be sent back to the first court before a different Magistrate or Judge for a retrial. In some rare circumstances, your appeal can result in an acquittal.

It is important to seek legal advice about your prospects of appealing because, if not done properly, the court can dismiss your appeal and you may need to pay legal costs of the prosecution.

 

How Long Do I Have To File An Appeal?

 

There are deadlines that apply to appealing your case. If you have been found guilty in the District Court or Supreme Court, you have 21 days to file an appeal from the date you are sentenced. If you are found guilty in the Magistrates Court, you have 28 days to file an appeal from the date you are sentenced.

It is possible to appeal outside of that timeframe, however, you will need to explain to the court why you have not appealed within the deadline. 

If you would like some advice on a potential appeal, or if you have already lodged an appeal against either your conviction or sentence, Chambers Legal can assist you. Please ring us on (08) 9500 8915 to discuss your appeal further. 

 

When you meet your criminal lawyer for the first time, you should have a good first impression of them. After all, you need to feel comfortable telling them some very personal details about yourself and need to have trust in them to do their best work for you. 

To make the most of your initial consultation with your criminal lawyer, you should bring the paperwork you received from the police, which ordinarily includes documents such as:

  1. Statement of Material Facts;
  2. Prosecution Notice;
  3. Bail forms or Prosecution Summons or Court Hearing Notice; and
  4. Criminal record.

If possible, you should send this to your criminal lawyer ahead of time, to make the most of the time in your initial consultation.

Your criminal lawyer should discuss the charge(s) with you, hearing your side of the story, and provide you with advice as to your available options. Your criminal lawyer should explain things to you in a simple and easy to understand way.

To determine whether your criminal lawyer is the best criminal lawyer for you, you can ask them several questions, such as:

  1. Does your criminal law firm practice solely in criminal law?
  2. How long have you been practicing in criminal law?
  3. What courts do you appear in?
  4. Have you dealt with a matter like mine before?
  5. Do you have any good barristers you can recommend for my case?
  6. How much will my matter cost?
  7. Are you easily contactable?

The answers to each of the above questions are:

  1. Yes, Chambers Legal practices solely in criminal law. We are criminal defence lawyers, meaning we represent accused persons and do not work for any prosecuting agencies. Because we practice solely in criminal law, we have been able to hone our skills in this area
  2. The lawyers at Chambers Legal have been practicing criminal defence in Perth for over six years each, with previous experience as law clerks and practical legal trainees prior to becoming lawyers. We do not currently employ any junior or restricted practitioners. 
  3. We appear in all courts, such as the Magistrates Court, District Court, Supreme Court, and Court of Appeal. We can appear both in the Perth Metropolitan area, anywhere from Joondalup to Mandurah, as well as outside of the Perth Metropolitan area, such as Broome, South Hedland, Karratha, and Busselton. For these courts, we can appear via telephone link, or we can drive or fly out there, depending on what you prefer, what is most cost effective for you, and what the court appearance is for.
  4. We deal with a variety of Western Australian and Commonwealth charges each week. There is a very strong chance that we have dealt with a matter like yours before, as we have dealt with thousands of matters over the years. We find that the most common charges we deal with are sex charges, drug charges, assault charges, and burglary, stealing and fraud charges. If you have an unusual or obscure charge, then we can still assist you.
  5. Yes, we have many good and very experienced barristers, including Queens Counsel and Senior Counsel who we can call on to assist on your case if necessary. We ordinarily brief a barrister and work closely with them for your trial or appeal matters. As we work with them on a regular basis, their fees are often very reasonable and within our estimate or fixed fee.
  6. We will be able to provide you with either an estimate or fixed fee for your legal costs, which can cover your matter as a whole, or each part of your matter, depending on what is appropriate in your particular matter. There are no hidden fees, and we are open and transparent about our fees in our Retainer and Cost Agreement. We are happy to answer any questions or clarifications you may have.
  7. Yes, we are easily contactable. As we are a small firm, it is easy to get in contact with us. The best way to reach us is by email, either directly to your lawyer, or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., which will reach all of the criminal lawyers. You will notice that we send a lot of emails after hours and on the weekend – this is because we are always working on your matters, as they are our priority. We always return calls if we miss them and you leave us a voicemail. Our phone number is (08) 9500 8915. We often take calls outside of normal office hours to assist clients with advice whilst they are at a police station, or if the police are at their house with a search warrant.

If your lawyer ticks all of the above boxes for you, then you will have found yourself the best criminal lawyer in Perth for YOU.

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