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Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Law

Below you’ll find answers to the questions we get asked the most about criminal law.

No, except in some circumstances, the Police can ask you for your name and address, and a failure to provide these details can result in you being charged with an offence.

If Police wish to question you in relation to a criminal offence, you are not required to answer questions.

Police can arrest you with or without a warrant.

Some of the circumstances where Police can arrest you without a warrant can include, among other things:

Preventing the continuation of offences or if they reasonably suspect you are in the commission of an offence.

  • To establish your identity.
  • To obtain or preserve evidence.
  • To preserve the safety and welfare of a person
  • The arrest should also be reasonably necessary.

If you’ve been arrested, you should seek legal advice.

If the police arrest you, you need to be aware of the following information:

  • The police are required to tell you why you’re being arrested.
  • It’s in your best interest to cooperate with the police. you do not have a choice about whether you go with Police or not, and Police can use reasonable force to carry out the arrest. Unless you can later prove the arrest is unlawful, resisting the arrest could lead to being charged with more offences. Because of the wide scope of Police powers to arrest, it is usually easy for Police to prove they have a proper reason to arrest you. You should always get legal advice about this.
  • If you admit to your offence, your admission could be admissible in Court.
  • If you don’t go straight to court – you have the right to ask the police for bail.
  • If the police want to question you about an offence, you have the right to contact a friend, or relative, and you may ask to speak with a lawyer. The police must delay their questioning for up to 2 hours to allow this. You are not required to participate in an interview if Police offer that to you.
  • You have the right to be taken to court to apply for bail as soon as reasonably possible if you have been charged with an offence and Police don’t agree to granting you bail from the watchhouse.

Police can keep you for a reasonable period to investigate or question you if they suspect you’ve committed an indictable offence.

Police can hold you for up to 8 hours- and question you for up to 4 hours of that time.

A magistrate or justice of the peace can extend the time you spend in custody, but only a magistrate can extend questioning for more than 12 hours.

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offence, or you have been served with police documents, you should seek legal advice.

Indictable offences are more serious offences which can carry longer terms of imprisonment or higher fines. These offences can be dealt with in higher courts (the District or Supreme Courts) for either a trial or a sentence. Examples of indictable offences include sexual assault, break & enter, robbery etc.

If you have a lawyer to represent you, you don’t need to speak during Court – your lawyer will speak on your behalf.

You should hire a lawyer, regardless of your innocence. A lawyer who has knowledge & experience in criminal law can analyse your charges in detail and can negotiate with the prosecution on your behalf to gain a favourable outcome for your case. Hiring a lawyer will ease your stress, as you have someone to support you through your matter and explain the process step by step.

You should try to look presentable to the Magistrate.  Wear closed in shoes if possible. Don’t wear clothes with tears or holes, don’t wear a hat, or sunglasses on your head.

Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning

Below you’ll find answers to the questions we get asked the most about estate planning.

In short, if you don’t have a will: 

  • your young children may not be looked after by the people you intended; 
  • some unintended people may benefit considerably, and some intended people may not; 
  • assets you may have wanted to be passed on may need to be sold off so that unintended beneficiaries can be paid out; 
  • your beneficiaries may lose considerable tax and asset protection benefits;

By making a will, the winding up of your affairs can be planned, and cost effectively executed, leaving you and your loved ones with peace of mind.

None of us are immune from the circumstances of life: people get married, have children, divorce, re-marry, buy assets, sell them, go bankrupt, have falling outs, get injured, inherit and lose fortunes. With this in mind, keep your will up to date. 

You can change your will any time you like. Just let us know, as it needs to be done formally. In fact, we recommend you review your will every couple of years to ensure that it is still in keeping with your wishes.

  • Executors – who will run my estate. 
  • Disposal and Beneficiaries – what happens to my belongings/who gets what. 
  • Body Instructions – what to do with me when I’m gone (burial, cremation, organ donation etc.)

We generally recommend keeping things as simple as possible when it comes to the gifting of one’s assets. Where suitable, a gift of your entire estate to your partner may be best, and if he or she does not survive you, then the remainder to your children and grandchildren.

Everyone has assets – even if you think they aren’t substantial or consequential. It’s advisable to have a Will in place to ensure your loved ones know what to do with your effects.

Your kids will need to be provided for under your Will, or otherwise you will need a statement of reasons declaration to explain why a child or children are not provided for under your Will. The Court will review this reasoning in the circumstance that your Will is challenged.

For most people in relationships, their spouse / partner is the best and most practical choice. For those not in relationships, other family members or close friends often are the best choice, but not always. Parents are often not a good choice as it is more likely they’ll pass away before you do. 

Capacity is the awareness and ability to make decisions with a sound mind. From a legal capacity perspective, loss of capacity can only be determined by a medical professional.

We encourage you to provide alternate beneficiaries and prepare your Wills with these situations in mind. For example, inclusion of the per stirpes rule provides that should your beneficiary not survive you, their interest will pass along to their children.

We recommend you keep it in a safe place. We can keep it in our strong room for you free of charge, or you can give it to your bank for safekeeping.

You should also notify your executors that you have appointed them, and where the will is (there is no need to give them a copy or discuss the contents if you don’t wish to).

We don’t recommend you keep it at home – if your will is misplaced or accidentally destroyed, this can be construed as an intention to revoke it and draft a new will – this could result in intestacy.