five ways to reduce legal fees

Five Ways To Reduce Legal Fees

Let’s be honest. One of the single biggest factors, if not the biggest factor, that prevents people from seeking legal representation is the cost. But what people sometimes fail to consider is that by not obtaining proper legal advice and representation, their matter can often end up being more expensive in the long-term. With that said, here are five ways to reduce your legal fees.

Exercise discretion

Being involved in a court case of any kind can be incredibly stressful so it’s understandable if you are anxious. However, it’s important that you don’t bombard your lawyer with constant requests for updates by email or phone. A qualified and experienced legal professional will keep you fully informed of any relevant developments. Another point to keep in mind is that a good lawyer will also welcome questions about specific issues or concerns.

Be prepared

Time is money for you and your lawyer, especially if they are billing by the hour. You can minimise the amount of time spent in meetings with your lawyer by being prepared. But what does this actually mean?

Simply put, it means you should do the following:

  • Ask your lawyer what, if anything, you should bring to the meeting, and act accordingly.
  • If you bring a stack of unorganised papers, you or your lawyer will end up wasting valuable time sorting through it during the conference. Once you know what your lawyer needs, organise the documents by subject matter or date. If you need to keep the originals, make the copies yourself.
  • Think carefully about what you’d like to discuss with your lawyer prior to the meeting. Put those thoughts in writing (a list is a good idea), and don’t forget to bring your notes to the meeting or conference.
  • Be sure to arrive at the meeting on time, or even a few minutes early. By doing so you will give yourself time to catch your breath. If need be, you can use the time to jot down a few last-minute thoughts. This will also allow you to make the most of the available time that you do have with your lawyer.

Ask your lawyer if you can do some of your own research

More often than not, lawyers must devote a significant amount of time to researching various aspects of their clients’ cases. While they are well-equipped to do so, there might be some factual research that you can do, too. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you might be able to help by locating information or witnesses. You may also be able to create a timeline or draft statements regarding the facts of your case.

As long as you don’t bombard your lawyer with tons of completely irrelevant material, your lawyer will probably appreciate your efforts. Better yet, you’ll effectively reduce your legal fees because your lawyer won’t have to do the research.

Don’t let your emotions get the best of you

Being a party to a legal matter is an emotional experience. It doesn’t matter if you are involved in a business dispute, a family matter or any other civil or criminal matter. You may be angry, frustrated, stressed, overwhelmed or frightened. However, it’s important that you don’t let your emotions get the best of you, especially when it comes to making important decisions. If you do, you may make choices that delay the resolution of the matter (costing you more in legal fees), or cause the court to award the other party their costs. In a criminal matter, making the wrong choice based on your emotions could mean you have to pay more in fines, or spend more time in jail.

Be honest with your lawyer, no matter what

Don’t be surprised if there are times when your lawyer asks you a question that you’d really rather not answer. Depending on the question, you may feel embarrassed or concerned that it could harm your case.

But when all is said and done, your lawyer’s job is to help you. Failing to disclose important information or details when asked could not only unnecessarily delay your case (resulting in more fees and costs) but it could even wreck your case completely (meaning you’ll just end up wasting your money).

Consequently, it is extremely important that you are always open and honest with your lawyer. If you don’t feel like this is the case with your current lawyer, you may have to switch legal representatives so you can work with someone that makes you more comfortable.

At Bosscher Lawyers, our clients always come first. We also believe in providing honest, efficient and cost-effective advice. To help with the costs of representation, ask us about fixed fees for our services.

To learn more about how we can help you, phone us on  1300 729 316, use our contact page, or send an email to: [email protected]

sseized property

Police Powers and Responsibilities – Seized Property

Sometimes, police seize property in the course of exercising their duties and investigating crime. If your property has been seized by police, it is important to know your rights and how you can you go about having that property returned.

Hang on to your Field Property Receipt

The Police Powers and Responsibilities Act (PPRA) gives police powers to seize property in certain circumstances. In most circumstances, when a police officer seizes property from a person, they must provide that person with a receipt. This is called a Field Property Receipt and will list the items police have taken. This receipt can help you or your lawyer get your items back so it’s important that you hang on to it.

How long can police keep my stuff?

When a police officer seizes property, that officer is responsible for the safekeeping of the property until it is delivered to a property officer or property point. Unless the property is the subject of a charge, police may retain seized property for up to 30 days. After this time, they will need to obtain an order from a Justice of the Peace or a Magistrate. There are some obvious exceptions to this requirement like property that is perishable or has no intrinsic value.

Without such an order, a police officer MUST return the property to the owner or the person who lawfully had possession of the thing before it was seized. This means that you may be entitled to have property returned to you even if you are not the lawful owner. For example, you do not own property that you borrow or rent but because of the agreement you have with the owner, you have lawful possession of it.

It’s important to remember that the law requires the Commissioner of Police to take reasonable inquiries and efforts to locate persons claiming to be entitled to possession of certain property and facilitate the disposal or return of that property. You are entitled to insist that your property be returned.

Documents you need now…

If police seize documents from you, unless they have an order from a Magistrate or a coroner, they must let you inspect the documents and take extracts or make copies of it. You must be allowed to inspect the document at any reasonable time and from time to time. While this provision relates to documents, it also encompasses computers that store documents. This provision can be helpful if computers or paperwork relating to your business have been seized.

If you or someone close to you has had property seized and would like to discuss arrangements for the return of that property, please contact someone from Bosscher Lawyers today.

driving without licence

Have You Been Charged with Driving Without a Licence?

In Australia, driving isn’t an entitlement or a right. It is a privilege and a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. That’s why everyone needs a licence to do it.

But sometimes even honest, law-abiding citizens make mistakes. And in some cases, people just don’t think the rules apply to them. So they end up driving without a valid licence. But what happens if they get caught? Here’s what you need to know about being charged with driving without a licence.

When can you be charged with unlicensed driving?

In Queensland you can be charged with unlicensed driving if the police catch you behind the wheel and:

  • you have never had a licence at all;
  • your licence is expired;
  • you are driving with the wrong type of licence;
  • a doctor has declared you medically unfit to drive;
  • you gave up your licence voluntarily;
  • your licence has been temporarily suspended.
  • A court has disqualified you from holding a licence for a period of time
The penalties for driving without a licence

The punishment that will be imposed if you are convicted of driving without a licence will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. At most you can be sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and 60 penalty points.

An infringement notice may be issued in lieu of a tougher punishment, but only in certain circumstances. Specifically, this type of notice may be issued as long as you haven’t been convicted of driving without a licence in the preceding five years; you have not had your driver’s licence disqualified in the previous two years for drink driving; and you have had a valid driver’s licence before.

Within this context it is also important to note that an infringement notice won’t be issued in your case if:

  • You are interlock driver (an alcohol ignition interlock is a breath test device linked to the ignition system of a vehicle) whose licence was not reinstated after a disqualification period for drink driving; or
  • you are an interlock driver who didn’t have a valid Queensland driver’s licence  when the offence occurred and your interlock period has not ended; or
  • you are an interlock driver whose Queensland driver’s licence had expired more than a month before the offence and your interlock period has not ended.
How your punishment is determined

If you have been convicted of driving without a licence and you are a repeat offender or a disqualified driver, the court weighs several factors when deciding how you should be punished. These typically include:

  • The entirety of your case including any aggravating and mitigating circumstances;
  • the public interest;
  • your criminal and traffic records (if any);
  • relevant information provided to the court about your medical history, mental  or physical impairment or physical ability;
  • if you were driving without a licence during the commission or attempted commission of another offence, and the type of offence;
  • any additional matters of interest to the court.
Driving with a suspended licence

Driving while your licence is suspended is also classified as unlicensed driving. Your licence could be suspended for a short time if you have accumulated too many penalty points for excessive speeding or for failing to pay certain fines. If you were charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your licence may also be subject to immediate suspension pending determination of the matter.

In any case, you are not allowed to drive while your licence is suspended. If you are caught driving with a suspended license, you will face harsher penalties than other types of unlicensed driving.

Your punishment will be based on the specific circumstances of your case. In other words, it will depend on why your licence was orriginallyvsuspended. If it was suspended for failure to pay certain court ordered fines, you could receive anywhere between a one to six month license disqualification. If it was suspended because you accumulated too many penalty points, or engaged in excessive speeding, you could lose your licence for six months. All of these situations can also carry the maximum fine of 40 penalty units, or imprisonment of up to one year.

If you are caught driving on an immediate suspension your punishment could be a two to five-year licence disqualification, maximum fine of 40 penalty units, and a prison sentence of up to one year.

Driving with a recently expired licence

A ‘recently expired licence’ can be legally classified as one that lapsed less than a year prior to the commission of the offence; or as one that was rescinded (as a result of a physical or mental ailment that renders you unable to drive) less than a year prior to the commission of the offence.

If you have been charged with driving on a recently expired driver’s licence, a police officer may grant you a permit that allows you to drive to a specific location where you can safely store your vehicle.

Keep in mind that to be valid, this permit must:

  • Be in an acceptable form;
  • indicate the infringement notice number;
  • state the duration, which cannot exceed 24 hours, for which it is issued;
  • stipulate the conditions, if any, on which it is issued.

If you have been charged with driving without a licence, it is important to get sound legal advice as soon as possible. Contact our Brisbane Criminal Lawyers today.

Brisbane criminal lawyers

Unlawful Striking Causing Death – “One Punch Can Kill”

In 2018, the sentencing of a Brisbane man to nearly 10 years imprisonment brought renewed attention to Queensland’s unlawful striking causing death – or “one punch can kill” – law. Here’s what everyone should know about this important law and the consequences of breaking it.

The back story

The case in question stems from an incident that occurred on 3 January, 2016. At that time, Armstrong Renata was kicked out of a Fortitude Valley nightclub. Afterwards, Renata and another person tried to initiate a physical altercation with two men, identified as Cole Miller and his friend, Pace, whom they allegedly followed. Then Renata and the other person attacked, first punching Pace and then targeting Miller when the two victims tried to flee. Renata then sent a sucker punch or ‘king hit’ to the side of Miller’s head that caused a fatal brain injury. Renata was 23 when he killed Miller, who was just 18.

Renata pleaded guilty to unlawful striking causing death, which is an illegal act under section 314A of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld). Although he faced at least 15 years and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment upon conviction, Renata was initially sentenced to only seven years imprisonment based on the court’s assessment of the entire case and applicable sentencing guidelines. The court also determined that he had to serve 80 percent of that time before he could apply for parole.

After legal wrangling that ultimately resulted in an appeal, Renata’s sentence was increased to nine years and six months imprisonment.

Queensland’s unlawful striking causing death law

To secure a conviction for unlawful striking causing death, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant illegally hit another person in the head or neck and killed them by doing so.

However, the prosecutor does not have to prove that the defendant intended to kill the victim (which would be required in a traditional murder case), or that the defendant could have reasonably foreseen that his or her actions would have resulted in the victim’s death (which would be required to secure a conviction for manslaughter).

Unlawful striking causing death is a relatively new law in Queensland, which has only been on the statute books since 2014. It was specifically created in accordance with the Safe Night Out Legislation Act 2014 (Qld) following a string of deaths involving single punches.

Since its introduction, the law has sparked considerable debate. Critics question whether it is too harsh. Proponents, including the Queensland Homicide Victim Support Group and legislators behind the Safe Night Out Legislation Act 2014 argue that harsher penalties on offenders for this type of crime are necessary deterrents.

Proponents also point out the significance of the law as it potentially pertains to young adults. This is because younger people are more likely to be in situations or engage in behaviour where this law may apply. Specifically, they say it is important that young adults remain aware of the consequences of failing to monitor their alcohol consumption, potentially leading to violence where someone is killed by a single punch during a night out clubbing or partying. They also need to understand that it doesn’t matter whether the attacker meant to kill the victim.

The importance of getting sound legal advice

Currently, there is widespread government support for implementation of tough sentencing regimes for offences occurring in safe night precincts like Fortitude Valley and Surfers Paradise. Therefore, it is crucial that you get proper legal advice if you have been charged with an offence involving violence whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Don’t leave anything to chance. Contact our Brisbane Criminal Lawyers today.

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What is a Conviction and How Can I Prevent it From Being Recorded?

Everyone knows that if you are found guilty of a crime, you’re convicted of the offence. Convictions, unsurprisingly, have serious ramifications and can potentially follow you for the rest of your life, regardless of your court imposed punishment. If a conviction is recorded it can affect you when applying for jobs and prevent you from travelling. Not all convictions, however, need be recorded. Below, we discuss non-recorded convictions and what that may mean for you.

Penalties and Sentences Act 1992

The Court is granted the discretion to not record a conviction by Section 12 of the Penalties and Sentences Act of 1992, even when the person in question has been found guilty and sentenced by the Court. When exercising this discretion, the Court will look at a variety of factors in determining whether or not the individual circumstances warrant leniency.

Factors that Influence Discretion

Nature of Offence: The type of crime for which you’ve been found guilty will play a role in the discretion of the Court, with minor offences more likely to be non-recorded than major offences.

Age & Character: The offender’s age and character will be taken into account. Because the goal of the criminal justice system generally revolves around fairness and rehabilitation, young offenders and those with no prior history with the criminal justice system are more likely to receive leniency, as they are more likely to resume behavior as law-abiding, productive members of society. This isn’t to say that older offenders will always have their conviction recorded, especially if they have a clean or minor record. It is important to remember that anyone with a clean or minor record has the right to request that their conviction not be recorded, even if they are not excused by youthful indiscretion.

Impact: When determining whether or not to record a conviction, the Court will also look at the potential consequences that a criminal record will have on the offender. In particular, they estimate the impact on the offender’s economic security, social wellbeing, and ability to find appropriate employment. However, it is important to note that merely asserting that a recorded conviction will increase the difficulty of finding a job may not be enough to inspire the Court to exercise leniency. The Court would rather deal in specifics so a letter from an employer or a list of criteria from the offender’s chosen career would be necessary to support this argument.

Disclosure

If you are not able to prevent your conviction from being recorded, you will be required to disclose this conviction in many circumstances, most notably when you are applying for jobs or travelling out of the country for work. There are other times, though, when you are not required to disclose.

Magistrates Court: If your conviction was in the Magistrates Court, you will no longer be required to disclose this conviction when: the conviction was at least five years ago; the term of imprisonment was only 30 months or less (or there was no term of imprisonment); you have completed any other court order; you have not committed any other offence within the five-year period; and no exceptions apply. If you meet all of these requirements, you will not be required to disclose and it will likely be unlawful for any other person to disclose it as well.

District or Supreme Court: Unlike a conviction in Magistrates Court, a conviction in a District or Supreme Court has a much longer lapse period. In order for your conviction to be spent so that you no longer have to disclose it: 10 years must have passed and you were not convicted during that time; you served a term of imprisonment 30 months or less (or were not assigned a term of imprisonment); no exceptions apply; and you have complied with and completed any other order of the court.

Preventing your conviction from being recorded can be imperative if you are hoping to keep your professional and personal life on track. Contact our Criminal Lawyers Brisbane today so that you have a professionally trained advocate to argue on your behalf.

rights-in-criminal-law

What are Your Rights under Criminal Law?

Thanks to TV shows and pop culture, many people believe they understand how the criminal justice system works. Police shows, procedural dramas and legal adaptations tend to create a false sense of familiarity with the criminal justice system in the average person. But while loose cannon cops and lawyers who bend the rules make good television fodder, they have very little in common with the realities of police-work and legal professionalism. If you find yourself caught within the criminal justice system, it is important to remember that you have rights.

Arrest

When being arrested, there are three procedural steps that officers are required to follow. The officer must tell you that you are under arrest and briefly explain why, and you must either voluntarily surrender to the officer or you will be taken into custody through force. Police in Queensland do not have to “read you your rights“, and though you do have the right to remain silent, you are still required to inform the arresting officer of your name and address in order to avoid additional charges. Once arrested, you will escorted by the arresting officer to a police station or watch-house to be processed and await court or given bail.

Warrants

The police are not required to have a warrant in order to arrest you. If they have a reasonable suspicion that you are breaking the law, have broken the law, or are about to break the law, they have the power to arrest you as a reasonable necessity, because of the type or seriousness of the offence, or in order to:

  • stop you from breaking more laws;
  • discover your identity;
  • ensure a court appearance;
  • obtain or retain evidence;
  • prevent the creation or destruction of evidence;
  • prevent witness harassment or interference;
  • protect your safety and the safety of others;
  • prevent your escape; or
  • hold you for questioning.

The threshold for demonstrating reasonable necessity is generally low and the police will likely be allowed to arrest you without a warrant. It is in your best interests to calmly comply, ask for a lawyer as soon as possible, and remain silent except for providing your name and address, until your lawyer arrives.

What Are My Rights?

You have the right to remain silent and wait for the arrival of your lawyer. You cannot be formally interviewed until the police inform you that you have a right to a lawyer, a family member, or friend. Importantly, you must remember that the police are not allowed to coerce a confession out of you by making false promises or threats. As mentioned above, the police must inform you that you are being arrested and explain to you why.

Additionally, you have the right to go to court for a bail application at the earliest reasonable opportunity, and if you are not taken straight to court, you have the right to ask the police for bail. Remember that without an arrest you do have the right to refuse a request to come to the police station, but be careful to handle the situation calmly and respectfully or else risk an actual arrest or additional charges.

Being Arrested for Questioning

When the police have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed an indictable offence, they are able to detain you for a reasonable amount of time in order to conduct an investigation and/or question you about the offence. Police may detain you for up to eight hours, but can only question you for four hours out of the eight. If they want to keep you longer, the police must petition a magistrate or justice of the peace to question you for a further period. During this time period, you still have the right to remain silent after sharing your name and address.

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The Drink Driving Guide

As statistics graphically illustrate, drink driving remains an international problem. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, in 2015 more than 50% of all traffic deaths on South African roads were attributed to alcohol consumption. In the same year, drinking and driving also contributed to more than one-third (34%) of all road deaths in Canada, 31% of all motor vehicle fatalities in the United States and 30% of all fatal road accidents in Australia.

In the report’s Executive Summary, however, the WHO also notes that the adoption and enforcement of “good laws” is “effective in changing road user behaviour on key risk factors for road traffic injuries”, including drink driving. And to that end, authorities throughout Australia continue to crack down on motorists that engage in the dangerous activity.

With that in mind, here’s what you should know about the consequences of drink driving in Queensland.

If you are caught, you will receive a summons to appear in the Magistrates Court closest to where the offence occurred. The Magistrate will make a determination about the penalties, which range from a fine and disqualification to imprisonment. The type of punishment imposed will depend on several factors including:

  • Your breath or blood alcohol concentration at the time of the offence;
  • your driving record (traffic history);
  • whether you have any prior convictions for drink driving.

The four blood alcohol concentration limits used in Queensland

In Queensland, four classifications pertaining to blood alcohol concentration are used to determine which penalty or penalties will be imposed for a drink driving offence. These are: the no alcohol limit, the general alcohol limit (0.05 to 0.09), the middle alcohol limit (0.10 to 0.149), and the high alcohol limit (over 0.15).

The no alcohol limit prohibits certain drivers from having any alcohol in their blood at all while operating vehicles on Queensland roads. This applies to you if you are a learner or if you have a P1, P2 or a restricted licence (regardless of your age). It also applies to anyone driving a truck, taxi, limousine, tow truck or tractor.

The commission of a DUI offence of drink driving while over the no alcohol limit usually results in the disqualification of your ability to obtain or hold a Queensland driver’s licence for at least three months upon conviction. Furthermore, you are ineligible to apply for a drink driving work licence if a Magistrate finds you guilty of this offence.

The general alcohol limit, which is a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05%, applies to most Queensland drivers. Specifically, it applies to anyone who has a valid Queensland driver’s licence and is exempt from the no alcohol limit.

If you are convicted of a DUI drink driving offence in which your blood alcohol concentration exceeds the general alcohol limit, your ability to obtain or hold a Queensland driver’s licence will automatically be disqualified for at least one month. However, you may be able to apply for a drink driving work licence if you meet certain criteria.

There are more serious consequences upon conviction for a DUI drink driving offence when your blood alcohol concentration exceeds the middle alcohol limit, or 0.10%. In this case, your ability to obtain or hold a Queensland driver’s licence will be disqualified for at least three months, but you may be able to get a drink driving work licence.

Finally, if your blood alcohol concentration exceeds the high alcohol limit of 0.15% when you are behind the wheel, you will be charged with the most serious DUI drink driving offence.

Because there is a legal assumption that you are under the influence of alcohol or liquor based on the extreme reading in these circumstances, this offence is sometimes called “driving under the influence of liquor” (or “UIL”).

Conviction for this type of offence brings the harshest penalties, beginning with a disqualification of your ability to obtain or hold a Queensland driver’s licence for at least six months. Since there is no maximum period for disqualification, your licence could be disqualified for a year or more, depending on your specific circumstances. If this isn’t your first conviction, you may even face probation, community service or jail time. In any case, you will not be able to get a drink driving work licence.

Understanding the drink driving ‘ranges’

If you are charged with “low-range drink driving” in Queensland, it means your blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) was above the general alcohol limit (0.05%) but below the middle alcohol limit (0.10%).

A low-range drink driving conviction brings a maximum penalty of three months imprisonment and/or a 14 Penalty Unit fine for a first offence.

If you commit and are convicted of a second offence within five years, you face up to six months imprisonment and/or a 20 Penalty Unit fine. Conviction for a third or subsequent offence within five years brings a maximum penalty of nine months imprisonment and/or a 28 Penalty Unit fine.

As we have already noted, you will be unable to obtain or hold a Queensland driver’s licence if you’re convicted on this type of drink driving charge. The length of your disqualification can range from one to nine months for a first offence, and three to 18 months if you’re convicted for a second and/or subsequent offence.

If the Magistrate imposes more than one period of disqualification (which may happen if you’re a repeat offender), you must serve these cumulatively. In other words, one term won’t begin until the previous term ends.

You should also be aware that if you have multiple convictions for low-range drink driving, you must have an Alcohol Ignition Interlock device attached to your nominated vehicle for 12 months once you regain your driving privilege.

If Queensland authorities catch you driving a vehicle with a BAC greater than the “middle alcohol limit” (0.10%), but below the “high alcohol limit” (0.15%), you will likely be charged with “mid-range drink driving.” This is the second most serious drink driving offence under Queensland law, punishable by a maximum of six months imprisonment and/or a 20 penalty unit fine for a first offence.

The commission of and conviction for a second mid-range drink driving offence within five years can also result in up to six months imprisonment and/or a 20 penalty unit fine. However, the commission of and conviction for a third or subsequent offence in that period brings a maximum penalty of nine months imprisonment and/or a 28 penalty unit fine.

When you’re convicted of a mid-range drink driving offence for the first time, the Magistrate will automatically disqualify you from holding or obtaining a Queensland driver’s licence for three to 12 months. Repeat offenders face immediate disqualification for three to 18 months.

The stipulations that apply to multiple disqualification periods and Alcohol Ignition Interlock devices for low-range drink driving convictions also apply to mid-range drink driving convictions.

Lastly, if you have a BAC greater than 0.15% percent or the “high alcohol limit” while behind the wheel, you will be charged with “high-range drink driving”. As we have already noted, this is the most serious drink driving offence under Queensland law. As such, the maximum penalty upon conviction is nine months imprisonment and/or a 28 Penalty Unit fine – and that’s just for a first offence.

The maximum penalty for a second, or subsequent, offence within five years is 18 months imprisonment and/or a 60 Penalty Unit fine. Furthermore, Queensland law mandates that a sentence that “includes imprisonment” is imposed if you are convicted of a third, and any subsequent, offence within five years of the first. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will serve out your entire jail sentence, it is likely that will be the case.

Whenever it finds someone guilty of high range drink driving, a court must disqualify them from holding or obtaining a Queensland driver’s licence for at least six months for a first offence; at least one year for a second; and at least two years for any subsequent offences. Although it rarely does so, the Magistrate (or Magistrates Court) is also authorised to disqualify someone absolutely (meaning they can never hold or apply for another Queensland driver’s licence) – even for a first high range drink driving offence.

The stipulations pertaining to multiple disqualification periods for low-range and mid-range drink driving offences also apply to those resulting from high-range drink driving offences.

If you’re convicted of high-range drink driving, you must also have an Alcohol Ignition Interlock device affixed to your nominated vehicle for 12 months after your licence is restored.

Understanding what affects your blood alcohol concentration

Clearly the easiest way to avoid running afoul of Queensland’s drink driving laws, and to avoid hurting or killing yourself or others, is to refrain from having any alcohol at all when you know you will be driving. If you insist upon having “one or two drinks” with family or friends, it is also important that you understand the factors that can affect the way in which your body processes alcohol – and therefore your BAC. These factors include but are not limited to your:

  • Age
  • Drinking habits (consumption)
  • Gender
  • Body type
  • Medication
  • Fitness

The amount of alcohol in the adult beverage(s) you’ve consumed, whether or not the beverages are carbonated, and whether or not you’ve eaten can also influence your BAC.

Seeking legal assistance

Being charged with any drink driving offence in Queensland is a serious matter. With your driving privileges and even your freedom potentially at stake, you should never leave anything to chance. Contact our Criminal Lawyers Brisbane for legal advice and representation today.

search-warrants

What You Need to Know About Search Warrants

Though TV crime dramas like to glorify the loose cannon cop who doesn’t “play by the rules” and will break down a door in a heartbeat, in reality there are protections in place to shield citizens from such reckless behaviour by police. Below, you can find a brief overview of searches, both with and without a warrant, as well as the definition of some important terms. If you are in need of advice regarding a search matter, please contact a Brisbane Criminal Lawyers today and protect your rights.

Home Searches

Right to refusal: Police in Queensland do not have an automatic right to enter your home. If you are refusing them entry, state clearly that you are not inviting them in nor do you consent to any officer remaining on any part of your premises. It is important to keep calm and treat the officers with respect, as anything you say may be used as evidence against you later. Also, make note of any witnesses so that there are other stories to support your claim that you refused police entry.

Police entry without warrant: Though you generally have the right to refuse police entry on your property, there are situations where they will be able to enter without a warrant and without your consent. For example, an officer may enter your home when: handing over a legal document; in an emergency; testing blood alcohol content after a traffic incident; pursuing an escapee; searching for evidence that is in danger of being hidden or destroyed; executing an arrest; reaching a crime scene; or in the event of an anti-terrorism order. These reasons need to be based on “reasonable belief” and within a “reasonable time” (see definitions below).

Police entry with a warrant: A warrant will allow police the right to search your property. Always ask to see the warrant, read through it carefully. The police will then be allowed a reasonable amount of time to conduct their search and have certain powers: detaining those present; removing wall, floor, and ceiling panels; taking pictures; digging and searching those present.

Informal police interviews: It is important to not answer any questions asked while the search is underway, as anything you say can be used against you as evidence.

Searches of your person or vehicle: Police have no automatic right to search you or your vehicle without cause. The officer will be allowed to conduct a search if they have a reasonable suspicion that you have a weapon, illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia, stolen property, contraband, graffiti tools, tools of theft, something you are intending to use to harm yourself or another, evidence of public drinking, or evidence of any offence punishable by at least seven years of jail-time.

Police requirements: When conducting such a search, police must treat you with respect and follow certain guidelines. You should not be searched in the presence of security cameras, and if any clothes are seized for evidence you must be provided alternate pieces of clothing. If and when the search is in public, the officer must strive to cause you the least amount of embarrassment and limit the search to a frisk if possible. More invasive searches should be conducted in private and, unless an immediate search is required, searches should be conducted by an officer of the same sex.  

Computers and mobiles: You are allowed to refuse a request to search your computer or mobile phone and police will have to acquire a warrant to conduct this search. However, the police may seize these items in the interim to prevent tampering or deletion of evidence.

Definitions

“Reasonable Time”: The amount of time required to ask questions and make reasonable observations or investigation.

“Reasonable Suspicion”: Most courts agree that a reasonable suspicion can be assumed when there is presence of some fact that would make a reasonably minded person believe the same thing. An important note is that a suspicion does not need to be right but merely reasonable.

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Help with drug charges and rehabilitation for you or your loved one

Over the last 4 years, Bosscher Lawyers have utilised their unique relationship with other organisations to assist drug offenders obtain the best possible results when sentenced by Queensland Courts.

When sentencing offenders, courts must take into account various factors. Importantly, courts look to the efforts an offender has made to address the issues at the heart of their offending behaviour. Courts look favourably upon offenders who have taken a proactive approach to addressing the issues that contributed to their offending, whether it be drug or alcohol addiction, mental illness or another concerns.

Bosscher Lawyers’ unique relationship with a well-known not for profit organisation enables us to provide clients with access to a ‘rehabilitation co-ordinator.’ Co-ordinators use their wealth of experience and knowledge to refer clients to a range of targeted support services. Through a personalised rehabilitation plan, clients are able to identify and begin to address issues specific to their offending. This targeted support not only assists clients in their personal development but also provides courts with definitive evidence of their rehabilitative efforts.

Bosscher Lawyers have represented many clients with a background of illicit substance abuse or other personal issues for sentencing before the District and Supreme Courts. The assistance provided by our ‘rehabilitation co-ordinators’ has proved to be a significant factor in these clients either avoiding prison time altogether or reducing the usual sentence. Our results speak for themselves.

It has often been commented upon by Judges the significant and impressive nature of our clients rehabilitative efforts, particularly those undertaken with the support of our rehabilitation strategy.

Should you or a loved one find themselves charged with a criminal offence and have an underlying personal issue to address, you should contact a member of Brisbane Criminal Lawyers at Bosscher Lawyers to not only provide you with the best legal representation available but also access to the support required to address your personal circumstances.

Police with Search Warrant

Do the Police Need a Search Warrant?

Search warrants. Anyone who has watched a crime drama on television is familiar with the concept: police officers charging into a home on the authority of a piece of paper. Or, if it’s a slightly more exciting plot, loose cannon detectives throwing caution to the wind and opting to commit a search without a warrant…creating problems for the lawyers later on in the episode.

But in the real world, what does a search warrant actually entail? And when do the police need one to perform a search? Below we cover some of the most frequently asked questions about search warrants in Queensland.

What is a Search Warrant?

In Queensland, the police generally do not have the right to search a person or premises (though exception do apply and are outlined below). However, if the officers obtain a search warrant they will be allowed to both enter the premises and search therein.

A search warrant is a written order issued by a judge or magistrate that grants police the authority to enter and search a premises at a specified date and time for the narrow purpose of seizing specified evidence which is believed to be connected to the commission of a crime.

Searching a Residence

            The police may try to enter a residence in order to conduct a search in order to obtain evidence relating to a crime. If the police are allowed to enter the premises and commit a search, then it is best for you to not answer any questions as any statements (including confessions) that you make may be used against you.

With a Warrant

If the police have a warrant, you should first ask to see it and then insist on receiving a copy of the warrant. Pay attention to the details and make note of anything that seems incorrect. Even with a warrant, the police may only stay as long as is reasonably necessary to complete the task outlined in the warrant. When entering the property, the police must also provide you with a list of their powers under the warrant, possibly including (but not limited to):

  1. Removing wall, floor, or ceiling panels when searching for evidence
  2. Photographing possible evidence
  3. Digging
  4. Seizing your property as evidence
  5. Opening locked safes, cupboards, chests, filing cabinets, etc.
  6. Detaining or searching individuals on the premises to determine if they have anything detailed on the warrant.

If your property is damaged by a police search authorized by a warrant which allows forced entry and they find drugs or evidence of an offence, then you probably won’t be compensated for the damage. However, if no evidence is produced, you should contact the senior police officer to file an official complaint.

Without a Warrant

If the police do not have a warrant, you can usually refuse them entry. If you refuse them entry, do so respectfully by clearly stating that you are not inviting them in and do not give your consent for them to remain on the property.

However, there are times when Queensland police can enter a property without a warrant or your consent, including:

  1. To arrest a person they reasonably suspect is located on the property
  2. To conduct a breathalyzer test
  3. To serve legal documents or notices
  4. When there is a seriously injured person on the premises
  5. To search for evidence that they reasonable suspect will be otherwise destroyed or hidden
  6. To reach a crime scene
  7. To detain someone under an anti-terrorism preventative detention order.

When they enter without a warrant for any of these reasons, they are only permitted to do so for the reasonable amount of time it would take them to perform the action or serve the document. If they are entering sans warrant to arrest or detain someone, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that the person is actually on the premises. Reasonable suspicion, like reasonable time, is fairly subjective. But most courts agree that there needs to be some fact which would cause a reasonably minded person to conclude something.

Searching Your Person, Belongings, or Vehicle

            Though the police are not automatically authorized to conduct a search of your person, belongings, or car, they may do so (even without a warrant) if they have a reasonable suspicion that any of the following items are in your possession:

  1. Weapons
  2. Illegal drugs or paraphernalia
  3. Stolen property
  4. Graffiti instruments
  5. Housebreaking or car stealing instruments
  6. Something you intend to harm yourself or others with
  7. Evidence of drinking alcohol in a public place
  8. Evidence of either willful damage or an offence punishable by 7 years jail-time.

If a police officer may legally search you, then the searching officer must be of your same sex, respect your dignity, and limit the scope of the search as much as possible. In the case of a strip search the police may not search your body cavities and respect your privacy.

Cellphones/Computers

In Queensland, the search warrant must specifically state that the search is meant to include your computer or cellphone. If it does not, then you have the legal right to refuse access. If it does, then you are legally required to provide the necessary passwords and facilitate access as best you can.

Firearms Amnesty

Firearms Amnesty

The Government has recently announced a firearms amnesty, in place from 1st July to 30th September 2017.

The amnesty comes over twenty years after the famous 1996 amnesty, announced by then Prime Minister John Howard, following the tragedy that occurred at Port Arthur.

The 2017 amnesty is aimed at putting a dent in the estimated 260,000 illegal firearms believed to be in circulation within Australia. With rising gun crimes as well as the constant terror threat, the “no questions asked” amnesty is the latest step in protecting the community from gun and weapon-related crime.

This amnesty allows anyone to hand-in any firearms or related items (whether registered or not) with a guaranteed immunity from prosecution.

The items covered as part of the amnesty are as follows:

  • Firearms;
  • Any firearm parts, such as barrels/triggers/frames etc;
  • Silencers or any other suppressor;
  • Magazines;
  • Ammunition;
  • Knives, crossbows; and Vests

Firearms and related articles can be surrendered either for registration, sale or destruction at either a local police station or a licensed firearms dealer.

It is important to note that you should contact your local police station or licensed dealer prior to attending with any firearm or related article and NEVER take a loaded firearm in public.

Should you require any legal advice or assistance in relation to this amnesty or any other issue with respect to firearms or weapons in general, you should contact our Brisbane Criminal Lawyers on (07) 3229 3166.

counter terrorism laws

Oliver Bridgeman’s Lawyer Argues Evidence is ‘Incapable of Rationally Supporting’ Conclusions

A Queensland teenager had his passport cancelled after an Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation assessment found he travelled to Syria to engage in “politically motivated violence” or commit acts in support of it.

But Oliver Bridgeman’s lawyer argues that Asio’s evidence, which is drawn from publicly available material such as social media posts and media reports, as well as a Queensland police liaison, is “incapable of rationally supporting” the intelligence agency’s conclusions.

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lock out laws

What’s Next? Prohibition?

The Queensland Government last week announced a significant tightening of our “lockout laws”. It would seem our Government is intent on living up to Queensland’s “nanny-state” moniker.

The new laws will see licensed venues enforce a “lock-out” of patrons at 1am and last drinks called at either 2 or 3am, depending on whether that venue is considered a ‘safe night precinct’.

This legislation, passed quickly and seemingly without thorough and unbiased consultation, seems to have come as a response to the violence surrounding licensed venues, in particular the ‘coward punch’ acts that have saturated the media in the last 12 months.

The new laws have been enacted as a reaction to a minority of people who, whilst spending nights out, have reverted to violence. The decision by the government displays a complete disregard for the law-abiding majority, who are the ones that ultimately pay the price by having their freedoms inhibited. Of course there are many other ‘victims’ who will suffer from these draconian laws; namely businesses, employees of licensed premises, musicians etc.

These rushed laws raise the question of, what happens if someone now gets assaulted at 10pm whilst out at licensed venues? Will we see further restrictions?

Instead of consideration given to curbing alcohol-related violence by way of furthering education, increasing penalties in relation to violent acts or placing restrictions on those who are found to have previously caused; the Government has decided to call in the ‘fun police’ on the majority of peaceful party go-ers and further limit their freedoms as to how they can go out and enjoy their nights.

This knee-jerk reaction is another example of surface-level thinking and an attempt at appearing to address an issue quickly for the purposes of perhaps obtaining good will, but certainly, votes. No discussion has been had in relation to the lack of research supporting lock-out laws and its contribution (or a lack thereof) to a reduction in violence. There appears to have been no consideration given to what people are going to do between 2am when last drinks are called, and closing time. Does the Government consider patrons turning to party drugs, in order to curb their alcohol intake, a success?

This legislation will not have the effect it’s designed to have. There will still be the violent idiots among us, as there always have been. Unfortunately, there is no way to legislate against those unsociable thugs. They won’t stay home because of these laws. People will start drinking earlier and, instead of leaving the pubs and clubs to go and have a bite to eat and then take the opportunity to go home, they won’t leave the licensed premises. The thought of being deprived the opportunity of being able to return to a venue will be enough to stop people from leaving those venues.

If the Government were to be honest with the people of the state, they would accept that the majority of the violence in the ‘party precincts’ is caused at or around closing time at taxi ranks. Lockout laws will not stop the mass gatherings outside venues, as all pubs and clubs will still close at once, and it certainly won’t stop the angst caused at taxi ranks.

The argument that the laws are currently operating effectively in New South Wales is a manipulation of actual facts. More and more venues are permanently closing and the reduction of people in and around those precincts that are the focus of the ‘statistics’, are not taken into account.

Finally, any argument the Government proffers in relation to this issue is rendered void once we consider the total exemptions given to our casinos. If, in fact, the problem were as serious as we are led to believe and the Government is serious about tackling the ‘problems’, then why would the casinos be exempt? Casinos are a 24 hours a day money-making machine for the Government (not to mention the political donations provided), who are allowed to serve alcohol for 22 hours a day. Are we supposed to believe that the casinos are somehow immune from the behaviour, so worrying that it warrants tightening lockout laws, that apparently plagues the rest of the state?

The apparent lack of consideration and common sense as well as the ignoring of the negative effects to our local economy, businesses, jobs etc., coupled with the total exemptions to casino’s leaves us wondering what the Governments motivation really is? Are these laws simply a mechanism to funnel party-goers into casinos?

heroin charges

Trial Starts for Accused Men Charged with Possession of Commercial Quantity of Heroin

Two men were ‘effectively caught red-handed’ trying to extract millions of dollars worth of heroin concealed in two decorative wooden altars, a Queensland court has heard.

The trial of Lam Hoang Tran and Duy Hoa Pham started in Brisbane’s Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Both have pleaded not guilty to attempting to possess a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border-controlled drug, namely heroin.

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criminal law

Teenager Avoids Jail Sentence

A Sunshine Coast teenager who allegedly stalked, bashed and robbed a former friend has avoided jail so he can continue his mental health rehabilitation.

Trae John Joseph Predo was 17 when he committed the offences against an 18-year-old friend last year.

Judge Robertson yesterday referred to Predo’s harassment of his friend through a vast number of phone calls as “bizarre”, noting some of the calls contained threats.

It was during the period of phone stalking when Predo arranged on March 12 last year to meet his friend at a park at Mooloolah about 9.30pm.

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missing mining magnate

Missing Mining Magnate

Criminal Lawyers Brisbane at Bosscher Lawyers’ client, Markis Scott Turner was charged in 2011 with conspiring to import and traffic more than $20 million worth cocaine into the country, and was due to face a Brisbane Supreme Court trial on September 29 this year.

But the former owner of company CQE Materials and Handling is now being hunted by Australian Federal Police after the alarm was raised early last month after he had failed to report to police as part of his bail conditions since August 14.

Man Punching Woman

Acquitted of Punching Woman in the Face

In the Toowoomba District Court, it took less than 15 minutes for a jury to find a man accused of punching a woman in the face not guilty.

Bronson Charles Thomas Bartlett, 29, has pleaded not guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm of Jessica Peacock, 22, who sustained a black eye after being punched in the face during an altercation in the car park of Valleys rugby league club in Pillar St on September 1, 2013.

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michaelbosscher

Sophie Collombet’s Alleged Murderer to Stand Trial

Criminal Defence Lawyer, Michael Bosscher said outside the Brisbane Magistrates Court that his client, Benjamin Milford who is accused of rape, murder, deprivation of liberty and robbery of Ms Collombet in March last year, was relieved that the committal process was behind them and they could move forward.

Mr Michael Bosscher said he was awaiting final instructions on whether Milward would plead not guilty, in a trial which is expected to start early next year.

“The family are very supportive of him, they understand it is a difficult process and they are standing by him.

“They certainly have nothing but the greatest sympathises as far as the victim’s family is concerned.”

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man acquitted after pub brawl

Man Acquitted After Pub Brawl

It didn’t take the Toowoomba District Court jury for its deliberation to acquit a man that has caused grievous bodily harm towards a colleague at work by punching him during their Christmas party.

The person who has been charged with causing grievous bodily harm was Carrie Howard Tane, age 38 and the victim was Angus Rogie. The incident took place during their Christmas party at the Royal Hotel in Toowoomba in the evening of December 18, 2012.

What actually happened was, Tane punched Rogie twice and the latter fell to the floor at the pub’s smoking are and sustained a fractured jaw during the brawl.

The Crown hotel however, could not tell which punch had caused the injury, which could have been sustained when Rogie fell on the stool before he landed to the floor. Tane got accused of causing the injury.

The accused pleaded not guilty and was accepted during the trial and Rogie’s injury amounted to grievous bodily harm in the court of law.

The main question addressed to the jury now was, had the actions of the accused in striking the victim been unlawful?

This question has been thoroughly deliberated judging from the evidence gathered from a number of witnesses at the trial. Bottom line is that Rogie was drunk and annoying throughout the night. He had taunted Tane who is bigger in size and coaxed him for a fight before the incident and also passed a racial comment to the accused. These evidences where all heard by the court.

complaints_against_police

G20 Police outside Queensland to Be Exempted from Local Investigations

Trying to resolve complaints against 1,500 police outside Queensland for the G20 is next to impossible

While there will a number of New Zealand and Interstate police sent to boost the G20 security in Brisbane, there is concern that because they will be operating outside their own jurisdiction, they may have immunity from investigations that may arise from any alleged  abuse of power or misconduct that any member of the Queensland public may wish to assert.

According to the lawyers – referring to this issue, these officers are entitled to legal immunity from any disciplinary actions over any participation in rough policing. The police officers will wear the G20 police caps while keeping their own uniforms and be sworn in temporarily as Queensland police.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) spokeswoman in NZ said that they would retain their jurisdiction over any NZ police officers that are in question with regards to their conduct during the G20. So in this case, any members of the public can lodge a complaint to IPCA for any alleged misconducts by any NZ officer.

According to Michael Bosscher, who is a prominent Queensland criminal defence lawyer and is known to practice in 4 states and territories, the opportunity of resolving any complaint against the outside police is “close to impossible”.

From a legal standpoint, this raises several concerns to the public with regards to the wide-ranging powers given to police under the G20 security act.

Read more from the source here.