Articles written by Joseph Burke about topical legal news
- Legal Advice
Legal advice is guidance provided by a lawyer in relation to a legal matter. At an absolute minimum, it requires a lawyer explaining the legal options available to a client. In outlining these options, the lawyer will articulate the potential outcomes of these different options in order to help provide a recommendation on the option which makes the most sense for a client’s position.
How do I obtain legal advice?
The best way to get legal advice is to call us on 03 9008 6992. You will be able to speak to a lawyer experienced in criminal law, family law and other areas of law immediately about your legal issue in order to get the peace of mind that comes with this. If you would prefer to meet a lawyer in person for legal advice, you can book an appointment either by calling or booking an appointment online.
How do I get the most out of legal advice from a lawyer?
It helps if you can identify your legal issue such as whether it is criminal law, personal injury, family law or another area of law. During the consultation, be prepared to talk in detail about your legal issue as facts such as names, dates and events can be very important. It can be worthwhile to prepare some questions you may have about legal costs and the practical matters involved in obtaining legal representation.
- Penalty for drug possession
In Victoria, drug possession is considered a serious offence and carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment. The actual penalty may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case.
What are the circumstances that affect sentencing of drug possession?
An offence that merely involves a small quantity of cannabis (listed in the schedule of the DPCS act 1981 as 50 grams), where the court is satisfied that there was no trafficking occurring, will be liable to a fine of 5 penalty units.
Furthermore, where the offence involves other drugs or more than the small quantity, and the court is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the offence was not committed by the person for any purpose relating to trafficking the maximum penalty will be 30 penalty units and up to one year in jail.
In any other case, the maximum penalty is 400 penalty units and up to five years imprisonment.
Of course, the maximum penalty is rarely imposed, and sentencing involves consideration of mitigating factors and personal circumstances that often serve to reduce sentences considerably.
- Lawyers should not be informers!
Lawyers Informers legislation
It has been widely reported in The Age that new informant legislation risks re-run of the Nicola Gobbo Scandal. For the uninitiated, the Nicola Gobbo scandal was the media firestorm that erupted after it became clear that the arrests made into drug trafficking and murder connected to Carl Williams and associates were not the result of old fashioned detective work, but rather the emergence of an informer, a barrister who turned on her own clients and got them into trouble with the police all the while purporting to defend them in court.
Lawyers should not be informers
It goes without saying that this situation was an epic calamity of gigantic proportions. It should never have happened; it perverted the course of justice to the absolute maximum extent possible. But now that it has happened, it should never be allowed to happen again. Yet for reasons that escape rational contemplation, the Victorian Government appears to be introducing laws that will allow this sad tale to happen again, and again, and again.
Under the new laws, police will have discretion to register lawyers as human sources against their own clients. These lawyers turned informers will no doubt struggle to demonstrate this discretion to be the better part of valour.
- What is the difference between a barrister and a solicitor?
The difference between a barrister and a solicitor is subtle in that they are both types of lawyers who practice in the Australian legal system. There is a great deal of overlap in terms of their skill sets and responsibilities, but there are some very important differences in how they operate.
A solicitor is a lawyer who works directly with clients to provide legal advice, draft legal documents such as subpoenas and contracts, engage in legal research, deal with stakeholders and act in negotiations. They may also represent clients in court, but this would typically not involve trials.
A barrister differs by working as a specialist advocate who provides legal representation to clients in court. Barristers are used by solicitors to provide representation in higher courts like the County Court, the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal. They are often involved in complex legal disputes, such as commercial or criminal trials, and their main role is to present arguments and evidence on behalf of their client in court.
Of course this is a very general description. There are some solicitors who appear as advocates in the Supreme Court, and there are some barristers who rarely appear in court at all and focus on providing legal research and expert opinions on complex areas of law.