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Skip to 0 minutes and 4 secondsLLOYD ENGLAND: What's the first point of call for someone facing criminal charges?

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsROSS HYAMS: Get some help, simple as that. You should never do this yourself, because things can go very, very badly very, very quickly. Even if you think you're not guilty, you can be in a situation where you are found guilty because you haven't presented yourself very well to a court. You don't, again, have to go straight to a lawyer, but you should seek some advice, and there are plenty of organisations that can give you assistance and decide whether with you you need to go and see a lawyer. But you have to get some outside help. It could be very dangerous fronting up to court by yourself and attempting to do it for yourself, because you'll lack the objectivity.

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 secondsYou'll get nervous, you'll say the wrong thing, and you don't understand the process necessarily.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 secondsLLOYD ENGLAND: If you're new to accessing legal advice, through legal aid centres or duty lawyers, what sort of information should you prepare?

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 secondsROSS HYAMS: The first thing they're going to ask you for your story. They want to know what happened, and what went wrong and why you were charged in the first place. So you need to have thought that through, and you need to be able to describe that well. Now, usually they'll also ask you about yourself, about what you do and what your aspirations are for the future, your employment history.

Skip to 1 minute and 13 secondsThose sorts of things, and that's useful to sit down almost write yourself out a resume before you even start, because most lawyers are going to ask you for that material, because that's the material they might want to present in front of the court to flesh you out as a real person in front of the court. So it's good to prepare that. It's also good to make sure that any documents that you received in relation to your charge, that you bring them with you. There's no point in going to see a lawyer or somebody who's helping you and trying to describe the offence you've been charged with unless they can actually see what you've been charged with.

Skip to 1 minute and 42 secondsSo providing documentation is also very important.

Skip to 1 minute and 46 secondsLLOYD ENGLAND: Great, thank you.

The Ross Hyams Perspective

Ross Hyams is an educator and law practitioner. Here, Ross shares with Lloyd his unique perspective on the essential things you need to know if you’ve been charged with a criminal offence.

Being charged with a criminal offence is a serious matter. It is very important that you reach out and get legal advice because criminal matters have consequences beyond the immediate risk of having to have to pay a fine or go to gaol.

Increasingly, people’s criminal records are being looked at by future employers, organisations and licensing or regulatory bodies as part of their assessment of a person’s suitability for a role or responsibility. Criminal records can potentially have a long-term and lasting impact on people’s lives, their ability to engage with the community and build a successful future.

Whilst we can not give you any general legal advice, we can provide you with these helpful suggestions that could make accessing legal help more easy for you.

We acknowledge that some countries might not have any free or accessible services available.

Want to learn more?

Go to Downloads to access a checklist of criminal law essentials.


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This video is from the free online course:

Law for Non-Lawyers: Introduction to Law

Monash University