The top 5 categories of offences in the NSW local courts, in 2017

Byron Bay Local Court Lawyer

If you have a court attendance notice for the local courts of NSW, here are some 2017 statistics that hopefully leave you feeling less-alone.  I’ve selected these 5 groups of offences because together they comprise the bulk of the work of the NSW local courts.

In 2017, there were 16,418 people who faced a local court in NSW for a drink-driving offence. That’s low-, mid- and high-range drink driving offences, which all fall under s110 of the Road Transport Act.  For anyone charged from 3 December 2017, the penalties for mid-range (1st offence) drink drivers now includes a mandatory interlock order (or interlock exemption and very long disqualification period).

Assaults are another common charge in a NSW local court.  Common assaults (which tend to be at the lower end of the scale in terms of damage caused to the victim, and the resultant sentence), assault occasioning actual bodily harm (that typically might involve punches and scratches), and then the very serious assault occasioning grievous bodily harm (that might result in bleeding, broken bones, etc), combined, comprised 12,951 matters in the NSW local courts in 2017.

Also making the list, reflecting the need for a license or merely the temptation to drive (despite not being permitted to do so), is drive while disqualified or suspended.  In 2017 there were 12,461 matters before the NSW local courts for these offences, making this a highly prevalent form of offending.  Regional areas, like the Byron and Ballina areas, are rife with this type of offending.

For drug possession, 10,889 faced a local court, in 2017, and this charge canvasses all manner of drugs, and is particularly popular in Byron Bay at Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival and Bluesfest.  Please don’t think drug possession on the north coast of NSW is limited to these festivals – Byron Bay and Ballina shires frequently have drug-sniffing dog squads patrolling the shops and bars, and it’s common for the dogs to do a round or two of many pubs and clubs in town.  Drug possession is generally a charge under s10 of the Drugs Misuse and Trafficking Act.

Also in 2017, 7,399 people faced the local court for a drug-driving offence.  Virtually all of these people were UNimpaired by drugs at the time they were detected.  The police mobile random drug testing kits will return a positive result for even a small trace of (some) drugs – such as cannabis, meth, MDMA, ecstasy, cocaine, to name a few……. – that are detected in an oral fluid sample of a driver.  The charge falls under s111 (or, to a lesser extent, s112) of the Road Transport Act in NSW and involves a roadside saliva test, a further test on the Dragar machine, and then a final analysis of the oral fluid sample is sent to police forensic testing (FASS), in Sydney.  It can easily take 4-8 weeks from the initial roadside result, until the driver has to face court.

The penalties for these offences vary, depending on many factors, in addition to the maximum penalties set-out in the legislation.  Matters like the defendant’s criminal or driving history, subjective characteristics that might be reflected in character or work references, circumstances surrounding the offending conduct and whether or not there were any mitigating factors, the objective seriousness of the offence (which also takes into account the circumstances in which it was committed), history of similar conduct and/or history of compliance with court orders, need for a license, ability to pay a fine, demonstrated remorse, any aggravating factors, and importantly the law and prevailing range of penalties.

If you need legal advice, please call or email us from the “contact us” page of the website or use FaceBook messenger.  This document is not intended to provide legal advice.  Hopefully it’s been informative, or maybe even be interesting – but it’s not legal advice.


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