Criminal Law

The team of experienced criminal lawyers from Brander Smith McKnight appear in court every day of the week. They regularly appear in all courts including Local Court, District Court, Children’s Court, The Supreme Court Criminal Court of Appeal and Coroner’s Court.

Our lawyers have represented and advocated for clients across a range of matters including sexual offences, drug importation, drink driving, domestic violence, property offences, drug possession and assault.

Our criminal defence team is extremely experienced and able to run most court matters without the added expense of a barrister. However, for serious criminal matters we have a panel of expert barristers who we frequently engage.

You can rest assured that we will fight tirelessly in your corner and vigorously defend your rights.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

Some Recent Court Results

No Conviction Recorded for Driving Under the Influence of Illicit Substance (2024)

Our client a 42-year-old business owner, was charged with driving with an illicit drug present in his blood. This offence carries an automatic disqualification period of 6 months and a maximum fine of $2,200.  Our client needed to retain his driver’s licence to operate his business. We informed him of the options available, including entering a plea of guilty while seeking to mitigate the sentence. We organised comprehensive character references, an apology letter, and supportive letters from his general practitioner and psychologist. In court, our skilled legal team presented compelling submissions to the magistrate and our client received a conditional release order and avoided a conviction.  This favourable outcome allowed him to maintain a clean criminal record and continue driving without any disqualification period.

No Conviction Recorded for Assaulting a Police Officer (2024)

Our client a 58-year-old family man and local business owner had an ADVO placed on him by the police on behalf of his son due to an argument between the two.  An altercation occurred some time later at our client’s house, leading to him being charged with several serious offences, including assaulting a police officer in the execution of duty, hindering or resisting arrest, drug possession, and contravening his ADVO.  Our criminal team drafted persuasive representations to the police, requesting the withdrawal of the hindering or resisting arrest charge and seeking substantial amendments to the police facts sheet. In return, our client entered a plea of guilty to the remaining three charges. We also requested clarification from the Police on the weight of the drug found in our client’s possession, as there was no drug analyst certificate to confirm the quantity or whether the weight of the drug included the packaging. To strengthen our client’s case, we assisted in the preparation of his character references, apology letter, and a letter from his employer attesting to his need for a clean criminal history. At the sentencing hearing, our skilled legal team presented our comprehensive submissions to the Magistrate. Ultimately, our client walked away without a conviction being recorded for the three charges and receiving a conditional release order instead.

No Conviction Recorded for Several Serious Domestic Violence Charges (2024)

Our client a 47-year-old man faced several serious domestic violence charges, including common assault, stalking and intimidation, and destruction of property.  The allegations came from an altercation with his partner.  Our legal team requested copies of their body-worn video, statements, and any emergency calls related to the incident. After meticulous review, we drafted representations to the police, seeking amendments to the police facts sheet and the withdrawal of the common assault charge. In return, our client agreed to plead guilty to the remaining charges. We also advised our client to immediately begin collecting subjective material and undertake  a violence awareness program offered through his counsellor.  The police acknowledged the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and agreed to withdraw the common assault charge. Through careful negotiations, we were able to have the police agree to some favourable amendments to the charges.  At the sentencing hearing, the Magistrate considered our comprehensive submissions and ultimately issued a conditional release order, with no conviction being recorded on our client’s criminal record.

Stealing Offence Dismissed and Thrown out of Court (2024)

Our client a 55-year-old woman faced a stealing charge after admitting to police that she stole a small amount of food from a shop a year prior. Upon seeking our firm’s advice, we immediately provided her with guidance on the options available to address the matter.  We began drafting comprehensive submissions for the sentencing hearing, requesting the Magistrate to dismiss the charge based on its trivial nature and our client’s previous record of good character.  At the sentencing hearing, the Magistrate agreed with us and ultimately decided that this offence should have been dealt with outside of the court system. As a result, the matter was dismissed, sparing our client from any criminal conviction on her record

Stalking and Intimidation Charges Withdrawn (2024)

Our client a 53-year-old man with a previous criminal record was facing a charge of stalking/intimidating a former neighbour.  It was alleged that he had made threatening comments towards the neighbour while he was having a gathering with his friends.  Our client instructed us to enter a plea of not guilty, with the primary issue being misidentification. We thoroughly reviewed the evidence provided by the police, including several witness statements, body-worn footage, and photo lineups.  After a thorough analysis, we concluded that there were no witnesses apart from the victim and her friend, to conclusively identify our client as the offender.  At the hearing, based on our evidence demonstrating the lack of reliable identification, the charge was withdrawn by the police.

Property Damage Charge Resolved Without Conviction (2024)

Our client a 38-year-old bricklayer was charged with damaging property after allegedly breaking a walking stick belonging to another individual. Concerned about the potential impact on his employment and travel plans, our client sought legal advice from our firm.  To strengthen his case, we requested that he complete an anger management and conflict resolution course, demonstrating his rehabilitation efforts since the offending conduct.  At the sentencing hearing, the Magistrate agreed with our comprehensive submissions and the material provided to the court. Ultimately, our client was granted a conditional release order without a conviction being recorded on his record.  Our client’s clean criminal record and employment prospects were preserved.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

How we can help when you have Police Interaction or are Arrested or Charged.

There are a number of ways in which you may come in contact with the police.  Police powers to search, detain and interview are derived from the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW).  In any contact with the police it is essential that you seek legal advice.  Provided below are the main interactions that you may have with the police.

Police Interview

Your first contact with the police is likely to be when police seek to interview you or arrest you.  It is essential that you seek legal advice prior to consenting to any interview with the police.  Police willingly accept that you require legal advice prior to you making a decision about any interview.

Search and Detention

Prior to stopping, searching or detaining a person, the police must suspect on reasonable grounds that the person has in their possession stolen or unlawfully obtained goods or an item used or intended to be used in an indictable or weapons or firearms crime.  Another reason is if whilst in a public place you are suspected of possessing a dangerous article that is or was used in connection with an indictable or weapons or firearms crime.

Police are entitled to search a person after they are arrested if they suspect on reasonable grounds that it is prudent to do so to ascertain if they are carrying an item that may be a danger to a person or could be used to escape from lawful custody.  In addition, if the police suspect on reasonable grounds that the person may be in possession of an item that was used in an offence or was intended to be used in committing an offence.

The police must tell you the reason for any search.

Police Powers of Arrest

The police are able to make an arrest without a warrant if the police officer suspects on reasonable grounds that the person is committing or has committed an offence AND they are satisfied that the arrest is necessary for a number of reasons, including to stop the person from fleeing or from committing another offence.  Section 99 Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW).

Detention and Bail

If you are charged you may be detained by police in which case it is essential that you seek legal representation to make an urgent application in court for bail.  Recent amendments to the Bail Act 2013 (NSW) (Section 16) provide that certain offences require the accused person to show cause as to why they should be granted bail.  It is essential that you obtain legal representation to make an application to the court seeking bail.

Defence Strategies

Once you receive your charges and a fact sheet, which is a brief description of the facts prepared by the police, you should seek legal advice.  The criminal lawyers at Brander Smith McKnight can tell you how best to deal with the charges, develop a strategy for your representation and advise you of likely outcomes for each strategy.  This may include one or all of the following:

  • Making legal representations to the police to withdraw or amend charges
  • Making legal representations to the police or having a hearing to amend the fact sheet
  • Entering a plea of guilty as early as possible which may provide a sentencing discount of up to 25% Sections 25D &E Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW)
  • Entering a plea of not guilty and preparing for a hearing.  A hearing is a trial where the police will be required to prove their case.

The most appropriate strategy will depend on the type of charge, the facts of the case, the evidence and any prior criminal convictions.

Sentencing Strategies for a Guilty Plea

Where there is a guilty plea, the criminal team at Brander Smith McKnight can advise you of the likely penalty.  We will use various strategies to achieve the best possible outcome for you.   This may include utilising:

  • Section 10 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW).  This is a dismissal of charges with no criminal record.
  • Section 7 of the Act which results in intensive correction orders
  • Section 8 of the Act which results in community correction orders
  • Section 9 of the Act which results in conditional release orders
  • An application to court for the matter to be dealt with under the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW).  This allows the court to order that the offender participate in a mental health program rather than a custodial sentence.

Where a custodial sentence is a possibility BSM Lawyers will ensure that every avenue is explored.  For example Section 5 of the Act which states that the court must not sentence an offender to imprisonment unless no penalty other than imprisonment is appropriate.

We will also guide and assist you to prepare all pre-sentencing materials such as references, psychologist reports and pre-sentence assessment reports.  You can be certain that we will ensure that your case is properly prepared so that you achieve the best outcome.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

BSM has extensive experience across all areas of Criminal Law

  • ASSAULT AND AFFRAY OFFENCES, including Common Assault, Assault occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (ABH), Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH), Assault Police.
  • DRUG & ALCOHOL OFFENCES, including Possession, Trafficking, Importation, Driving Under Influence (DUI) or Driving Above the Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA)
  • DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OFFENCES, including Assaults, Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO), Stalk and Intimidate
  • SEXUAL OFFENCES, including Sexual Assault, Sexual Touching and Sexual Intercourse without Consent (otherwise known as Rape).  All Child Pornography Offences, Procuring or Grooming of a Child for Unlawful Sexual Activity, Sexual Touching of a Child and Sexual Abuse of a Child.
  • FIREARMS OFFENCES, including Possession or Use unless Licenced, Possession Without Knowledge.
  • LARCENY AND ROBBERY OFFENCES, including Breaking and Entering, Entering a Dwelling, Embezzlement, Fraud, Stealing, Taking of a Motor Vehicle or Vessel, Receiving Stolen Property.
  • PROPERTY OFFENCES, including Destroying or Damaging Property.
  • BAIL APPLICATIONS AND CRIMINAL APPEALS

Assault FAQs

chevronHow long do you go to jail for assault in Australia?

The maximum penalty for common assault is two years or a fine of $5,500. If the assault was directed towards a frontline health or emergency service worker, penalties include up to 14 years imprisonment under the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Assaults on Frontline Emergency and Health Workers) Bill 2022.

chevronDo first-time offenders go to jail?

The answer depends on what type of offences at the time were committed.

Section 5 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 states that ‘a court must not sentence an offender to imprisonment unless it is satisfied, having considered all possible alternatives, that no penalty other than imprisonment is appropriate. Under common law principle, imprisonment is a penalty of ‘last resort’ and should be inflicted on someone if the circumstances demand it.

chevronWhat is the lowest charge of assault?

The lowest type of charge for assault-related offences is common assault with a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment. The highest type of charge for assault-related offences is assaults that cause bodily harm with a maximum penalty of twenty-five years imprisonment. 

chevronWhat are the types of assault?

The Crimes Act 1900 includes the following assault-related offences:

  • Common Assault
  • Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm
  • Reckless Wounding
  • Wound with Intent
  • Reckless Grievous Bodily Harm

chevronCan you hit someone if they provoke you?

You are not legally allowed to hit individuals under provocation. Although provocation can be extreme in some cases, it can rarely serve as a legal defence for assault, meaning it does not prevent the defendant from being guilty of an various assault charge.

AVO FAQs

chevronWhat are the penalties for breaching?

Breaching an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) may have the offender arrested and if convicted, will result in a fine of $5,500 and/or imprisonment of up to two years.

If the breach of the AVO is also paired with the additional means of crime or violence, it will be considered a serious offence with a high chance of the offender being sent to prison if convicted.

Any convictions will appear on your criminal record and Working With Children checks.

chevronWhat qualifies as an AVO?

There are certain conditions to qualify for an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO). Any individual who is a victim of physical assault, threats, stalking, intimidation or harassment can seek to obtain an AVO against the perpetrator.

The perpetrator must not perform any of the following actions at any given time to the protected individual:

  • Assault or threaten
  • Stalk, harass or intimidate
  • Deliberate or reckless damage to belongings

Additional restrictions can be sought depending on the circumstances. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Right to contact the protected individual with the exception of a lawyer.
  • Removed ability to possess firearms or prohibited weapons.
  • A certain distance from the protected person’s residence, work or school location.

chevronHow serious is an AVO?

Having an AVO against you does not classify as a criminal offence and will not appear on your record. As it is not a criminal offence, your ability to travel does not become hindered. However, it is considered a serious criminal offence if the conditions of the AVO are breached which may lead to severe penalties.

chevronHow do you get an AVO lifted?

If you are named as the defendant in an application for an AVO, you will need to consider your options as to how to respond to the application. Some courses of action to consider but not limited to are:

  • Seeking legal advice from a family lawyer
  • Make a cross-application
  • Provide an undertaking to the Court

Domestic Violence FAQs

chevronWhat is the penalty for domestic violence in Australia?

Under section 4B of the Crimes Act 1999, courts are required to impose either full-time imprisonment or a supervised order to anyone guilty of domestic violence offences.

Depending on the type of offence committed, penalties can range from 2 years to lifetime imprisonment, depending on the objective and subjective features of the case.

chevronCan I sue for damages for domestic violence in Australia?

Absolutely. Although a domestic violence offender can be liable for charges, the right to sue is not dependent on the outcome of the case. However, in most cases, it is better recommended to apply for a claim under the Victims of Crime Scheme for compensation up to $100,000.

There are time-sensitive windows in which you can make claims for damages as a result of domestic violence. You can get advice about your rights and options by contacting Brander Smith McKnight lawyers on 02 8539 7475.

Why Choose BSM?

Brander Smith McKnight criminal lawyers have represented and advocated for clients in all criminal cases from serious matters such as manslaughter, sexual offences and drug importation to less serious matters such as drink driving, drug possession and assault.

Our team of criminal defence lawyers regularly appear in Local Court, District Court, Children’s Court, Supreme Court, Criminal Court of Appeal and Coroner’s Court.

Our lawyers are extremely experienced and able to run most court matters without the added expense of a barrister. However, for serious or complex criminal matters we have a panel of expert barristers who we frequently engage.

Our criminal defence lawyers understand that the criminal justice system can be daunting and stressful to deal with and you can be certain that we will guide you through the system, explain the processes and fiercely advocate for you.  Brander Smith McKnight criminal lawyers will respect you and attend to your matter in an efficient, competent and compassionate manner.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

Our Locations

Sutherland

iconSuite 2
9-15 East Parade
Sutherland 2232
Parramatta

iconLevel 14 Suite 2/3 Parramatta Square, Macquarie St,
Parramatta, NSW 2150.
Wollongong

iconLevel 1, Suite 1
90 Market Street
Wollongong NSW 2500
Sydney CBD

iconMLC Centre
Level 57, 19-29 Martin Place
Sydney NSW 2000
Suite 2
9-15 East Parade
Sutherland 2232
Level 14 Suite 2/3 Parramatta Square, Macquarie St,
Parramatta, NSW 2150.
Level 1, Suite 1
90 Market Street
Wollongong NSW 2500
MLC Centre
Level 57, 19-29 Martin Place
Sydney NSW 2000

Your Criminal Law Team

Mark Smith

Principal

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Lachlan Tax

Lawyer

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Aaron Fanous

Lawyer

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Kenny Ng

Lawyer

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Ryan Ren

Lawyer

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Get in touch

Please call us on 02 8539 7475 or complete the enquiry form below for a response within 24 hours Monday to Friday.