The material contained in this website is not legal advice. It is intended to be of a general nature only and for background information. For advice on your personal circumstances you must consult a solicitor at Ben Aulich and Associates on 6279 4222.

Can you help me with my car accident claim?

No. We specialise in criminal law and to make sure we are the very best, we do not do generalist work. We can, however, refer you to other solicitors who specialise in personal injury work and who we know have very high standards and who you will be happy with. We do not get any “kickbacks” for such a referral.

What sort of cases do you handle?

Pretty much any situation where the government or authorities prosecute citizens. This can be as obvious as prosecutions involving criminal charges.

We can appear in Commonwealth prosecutions and any State or Territory – we also appear in prosecutions by the RSPCA, municipal prosecutions (for example, building, traffic and parking, health and safety), Commonwealth Public Service Code of Conduct breaches, professional misconduct tribunals (Medical Board, for example), taxation infringements, warrants, unpaid fines, student disciplinary matters.

We also appear in inquests for affected people, such as family members or those who may be suspected of having been involved in a death. We strongly recommend you have representation in circumstances in which you are suspected of being involved as evidence given at the inquest can be tendered in any criminal proceedings brought against you which arise because of the death.

Do I need a barrister?

It all depends. In some cases – such as straight forward pleas of guilty in the Magistrates Court – you are more than adequately represented by one of the competent solicitors from this firm. In more complex matters (and sometimes those matters are traffic or drink driving matters) where there is a lot at stake for you personally such as the loss of your job or reputation, a prison sentence is a possibility, a complicated area of law, or a jury trial, we will recommend you have us instruct a barrister to appear on your behalf.

We work with a select group of very experienced and talented barristers in whom we have great confidence and we have a number of top Queen’s Counsel and Senior Counsel who we work with. All have excellent reputations and are accustomed to big success in court

How much will all this cost?

Cases differ, depending on which court you are in, whether your case is simple or complicated, and whether you have just a solicitor appearing for you or a solicitor, barrister and perhaps some other expert such as an accountant, IT expert, scientist or medical professional.

Our solicitors work on an hourly rate. We endeavour to provide with you accurate estimates of your legal fees as early on in your matter as we can. We provide a clear breakdown of the estimate of your legal fees by providing a detailed “scope of works” which outlines where we think your legal fees will be incurred. In some cases we are able to represent you on a “fixed fee basis”.

For all of our matters we provide fully itemised accounts and they are forwarded to our clients on an interim basis. There are no hidden charges, and we do not charge for items such as photocopying or faxing documents.

Our solicitors will discuss your fees with you in detail at our first meeting.

I live interstate but have been charged with something in Canberra. Should I get a solicitor in Canberra?

Legal practitioners in Australia are able to appear anywhere in the country. Our experience in Canberra is that local knowledge is very important. It is a small jurisdiction with just one Magistrates Court and one Supreme Court. There are also savings in costs if you choose a local practitioner.

Do you appear in jurisdictions outside the ACT?

Yes. As specialist criminal lawyers our expertise goes beyond the boundaries of the ACT. Our solicitors have extensive experience and regularly appear in Courts in New South Wales. Our solicitors have also conducted major trial matters in other states, including Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria.

I heard there is a warrant out for me. What should I do?

Contact us immediately.

Our advice is that you hand yourself into the City Police Station in the ACT, or your local police station in NSW, no later than 8am on a week-day morning, as soon as possible. This will give the police time to process your warrant and have you before the court that day. Ring us before attending a Police Station to arrange for us to appear on a bail application for you and we will take it from there.

It is very important that you do not wait to be arrested. It is our experience that the police will arrest you at a time most inconvenient to you or on the weekend when you will have to wait in custody for several days before you can come before the court – even longer if there are public holidays. People who are “on the run” are not looked on favourably, as an important reason for refusing bail is to guarantee attendance at court.

The police put a note under my door asking me to ring them to discuss a matter. When I did, they asked me to go to the police station to have an "off the record" chat. Should I go?

No – no, no, no and no! Nothing you say to police is “off the record”. Even if it is not recorded in a taped record of interview, you can be sure some officer has written it down in their field note book and can and will give evidence of it in court. No matter how innocent you are – and the more innocent, the worse you will probably be – the more likely you are to be thinking aloud and trying to reconstruct the events the police are asking about. It is not until you come to trial and hear yourself on the taped record of interview that is played to the jury that you will see how it sounds very suspicious – or even like an admission. Best to say nothing at all. People who say nothing at all are often not charged because police often don’t have enough evidence to charge them and are hoping they will give them the evidence from their mouth. Don’t.

You have the right to remain silent – We recommend you use it.

My 16 year old son has been charged with stealing. His father and I are horrified. We brought him up to be an honest and good person. The police want us to go to the police station while he is interviewed. Should we go?

The answer to the question above applies – in some ways even more strongly in your case as your son deserves your protection. The best advice you can give your son is to say nothing to the police.

If your son gets a conviction on his criminal record for stealing – an act of dishonesty – he will have that forever. Under some circumstances he may have the benefits of the Spent Convictions Act 2000 which means he doesn’t have to tell anyone about it, but he does have to declare it if he wants to work in a long list of particular categories of work, and a court will be aware of it if he comes before again.

Just because he is under 18 years old does not mean he will not have a record. Many young people get into trouble for minor infringements of the law such as shoplifting, but it will be shown as stealing on their criminal record, without detailing the sometimes trivial nature of the offence. The law recognises that young people don’t always have the maturity and responsibility to avoid temptations and they sometimes get involved with others who lead them astray.

Your solicitor at Ben Aulich & Associates will be able to give you the right advice about how to present the case to court. Do not assume your son does not have a legal defence – do nothing before speaking to us.

The worst thing you can do is attend the police station and then order your child to “tell the truth to the police”.

My husband has just been arrested by police. They told me he will be before the court in the morning. What should I do and what is the process?

Police can grant bail themselves, from the ACT Regional Watchouse, located in Canberra City, but it sounds as if they are not prepared to do so in this case. They must bring the defendant before the court at the first available opportunity. Whilst the law often says there is a “presumption for bail”, there are some exceptions – if the person is already in breach of bail; in the past not complied with bail conditions; if the person is charged with certain violent offences (threat to kill, assault occasioning grievous bodily harm, breaching a personal protection order and stalking); if the defendant has a conviction for a crime of violence in the last ten years and if the person is already on bail for a serious offence. There is also a presumption against bail for serious matters such as murder, serious drug offences and treason.

This does not mean that bail can never be granted to people in these situations but they must show that they have “special and exceptional circumstances” which justify the court in making an exception for them.

Your solicitor can advise you on whether your husband’s circumstances would come within “special and exceptional” and tell you what evidence is necessary to prove that. If he is charged with a domestic violence offence, he must show the court that release on bail will not pose any danger to the protected person. That can be tough to show and usually means the defendant will have to move some distance away.

Your solicitor may advise you that it is unwise to make a bail application on the first appearance in court where it is not obvious that bail will be granted. When bail has been refused it can be harder to get the next time. It may be better to not make an application on the first morning, but to adjourn it for a few days so that proper arrangements and inquiries can be made to satisfy the Magistrate that bail can be safely granted. This might give the family time to arrange a surety, which means the promise to pay a sum of money or to lodge that sum in cash at the court which will have to be forfeited if the defendant does not turn up at court. He might also need to make arrangements for somewhere to live, as in domestic violence matters, or go undergo some rehabilitation program if the offences were committed because of a drug, alcohol or mental health problem.

You can ask the Supreme Court to review a decision of the Magistrates Court to refuse bail, in some circumstances. Your solicitor can advise you further about that procedure and when it applies.

If your husband has been arrested for allegations of assaulting you, the solicitor may not be able to speak with you about the matter. If this is the case, it may be best for you to ask a friend or family member to contact us on your behalf.

What should I wear to court?

It helps if you look neat, clean and tidy and you should wear your best clothes. Juries are very suspicious of young men who are wearing new suits and looking uncomfortable in them (especially if they are wearing white socks and trainers with them) so just wear whatever you think looks smart. For women, the same applies and you should be careful to make sure your clothes are modest – no low tops or very short skirts. Ask your solicitor if you’re not sure.

If you have been charged with an offence, or are suspected of committing an offence, exercise your right to silence and immediately contact Ben Aulich & Associates.

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