Frequently Asked Questions

May I represent myself at court?

Yes, you may represent yourself in court. It is not compulsory to have a lawyer to appear for you.  

My English language skills are not good. Am I entitled to an interpreter?

Yes you are. Indicate your difficulty with English to the court officer or magistrate at your first appearance in court. Your matter will be adjourned to another day when an interpreter is available.

Am I entitled to free legal representation through Legal Aid?

This will depend on your income AND the type of criminal charge you face. If you are in full time employment, generally it will be more difficult to obtain Legal Aid. Legal Aid NSW does not assist in relation to certain types of charges, for example,  types of traffic matters.

Please consult Legal Aid NSW website for more details and information to determine whether you are entitled to Legal Aid. Alternatively, you may contact one of the Legal Aid NSW offices for assistance.

If you are arrested by the police and refused bail by the police, Legal Aid is available at your court appearance regardless of whether or not you are employed, what you earn or the type of criminal charge.

If I want to see a lawyer to discuss my matter, what documents should I take to my first conference with my lawyer?

Take all the documents provided to you by police. If you have a copy of the Court Attendance Notice (CAN), the ‘police facts’, your criminal history and Roads & Maritime Authority (RMS) driving record, provide these to your lawyer.

Can I go to prison for either a drink drive charge or if I was caught driving whilst disqualified from doing so?

Yes, this is possible, although not usually. Your sentence will depend on the type of charge, the conduct alleged, the number of offences for which you are charged, the police facts, your criminal history, the number of previous drive related convictions, drink drive convictions and your personal circumstances.

What is a good behaviour bond?

This is a type of sentence courts may impose for various types of offences.

When your matter is finalised and the court imposes a good behaviour bond you are required to comply with the terms of the bond as set out by the court and you are required to be of good behaviour and commit no further offences for a specific period of time.

If you do not comply with the terms of your good behaviour bond or you commit any further offences during the period of the bond, the court may call up the bond and require you to appear before court again when it may deal with you in a number of ways, which may include re-sentencing you.

What does a Section 10 mean?

When the court finalises your case, it may find the charges proven and that you are guilty of the offence.

In this situation the court may have the power not to convict you. This means there is no conviction on your record for that offence. In driving matters this can mean that no licence disqualifications apply.

To have your matter dealt with under section 10 is not easy whether you do, or do not, employ a lawyer. Every case is different so it is not possible to guess whether a court will apply a section 10 in your case. It is probably wise never to expect this result.

What if I have Mental Health (MH) issues?

Many people have MH issues and these will not necessarily secure a more lenient sentence.

Some matters the court may consider are whether you are professionally diagnosed for your mental health condition, whether you are connected to MH service providers and whether your MH issues are properly managed in the community.

Written proof from your MH provider that you do suffer MH issues, your MH diagnosis, your treatment and responses to treatment may be helpful in the sentencing process, but do not in themselves guarantee a more lenient outcome.

Can I go to prison for domestic violence?

In short, yes you can, though obviously not in every instance.

It is wise to bear in mind that where you are charged with a domestic violence related offence that involves the actual use of physical violence on a person with whom you have a domestic relationship, the courts do consider a jail sentence.

Domestic violence offences, whether these involve actual physical violence or harassment or intimidation are always viewed seriously by the courts but do not necessarily mean you will go to jail.

How many times will I need to front court before my case is finalised?

Every case is different, so it is not possible to answer this question.

If you plead ‘Guilty’ the matter should be finalised with fewer court appearances.

If you plead ‘Not Guilty’ you are likely to appear before court a number of times before your case is finalised.

If I am arrested by police what happens next?

If the police arrest you they may release you on bail to appear in court on a later date.

If the police do not release you, you remain in custody until you are brought before court. At that first appearance before court you are entitled to apply to the court for your release from custody.

It is wise to obtain legal advice before you apply for release at your first court appearance. This is very important as there are limitations on the number of release applications you may make before the local court.

More Questions?