1. Don’t leave it too late to decide if you want the services of a lawyer
A good result, in ANY court matter, is all about the preparation – and the more time you have, the better prepared you will be. For example, you will need great references that support your submissions; and to complete a course before your court attendance. Ideally 3 weeks prior to your court attendance you should find a lawyer, if that’s what you plan to do. If you plan to self-represent, start getting organized 3 weeks prior. Start now by accessing our Guide to writing References for Court: https://www.localcourtlawyers.com.au/write-reference-court/
2. Decide if you are going to plead guilty or not guilty
Drink– and drug- driving offences are “strict liability offences”, so generally available defences, that involve intent (on the part of the defendant), don’t assist in a not-guilty plea for drink- and drug driving offences. The police need only prove that you committed the act of drink- or drug-driving. If you plan to plead not-guilty I suggest you get legal advice. Most people plead guilty to these offences. Importantly, the offence we colloquially call “drug-driving” generally refers to s111of the Road Transport Act (in NSW) – being drive with a trace of the drug in an oral fluid sample. The allegation by police is not that you were impaired by drugs at the time of driving. The allegation (and charge) is that you had a trace of the relevant drug in your saliva, when you were driving. You may have ingested the drug days ago. Get the Police Facts (they will send these to you a week or so before your court date, or your lawyer can access the Police Facts at any time).
3. If you are pleading guilty, you’ll need references
Generally, 3 is a good idea. An employer’s reference is valuable if your license is required for your job. As well as a long-term friend, who can write an abundance about your general character. A third reference might be written by a person in your community with ‘good standing’ and who knows you well e.g. a priest, doctor, elder, former Judge or police officer – someone like that.
4. Attend the Traffic Offenders Intervention Program (“TOIP”) and complete this course, before court.
It will usually require attendance on at least one day, and an online component. The programs offered by SAVE and Roadsense are prevalent in the Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Grafton and Tweed areas.
5. Prepare your sentencing submissions
Be clear. Have a plan of exactly what you want to explain to the Magistrate. Write it down before court. Things like: why you were driving, how far, where, how many people in the car, why you need a license, your ability to pay a fine, any mitigating factors, a bit about your character (which will be mirrored in the references you give to the court) and give context to any previous driving offences and any criminal history you have.
If you are self-representing,
I suggest you attend a “list day” in court, before your court attendance date, so you can see the procedure, and what you will be expected to do on the day. And make sure you have read the entire Police Facts before court, because the moment you enter a guilty plea, the Police Facts are given to the Magistrate (and this is your chance to hand-up your references and to check the Court is aware that you completed the TOIP course).
This is not legal advice, it is merely a resource to give you some guidance and general assistance.
If you need a Lawyer and want us to represent you, the Local Court Lawyers are experts in all local court matters. We come to you, anywhere in NSW, but our head office is on the north coast: Coffs Harbour, Grafton, MacLean, Ballina, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby, Murwillumbah or Tweed local courts.
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