What to take to your first conference with your Criminal Lawyer

It can be an incredibly stressful experience when you find yourself the subject of a criminal investigation or charged with criminal offences. Being organised and prepared for your first meeting with your criminal lawyer can not only save you time, but it will also assist your lawyer in providing you relevant advice and in their preparation to represent you.

When you meet with your criminal lawyer for the first time, there are five documents that you should take to the conference:

The Court Attendance Notice.

A Court Attendance Notice (CAN) sets out the offences that you have been charged with, who the Officer in Charge (OIC) is and a summary of the facts that have lead the police to charging you with the offences. Importantly, it also sets out the date and location of the Court where your matter will first be mentioned.

 Police Facts

The police facts are the version of events and a description of the offences as asserted by the police. It is very common that defendants (that is, the people that have been charged with a criminal offence) will disagree with the police facts.

Bail Decision

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, the police may arrest you and take you back to the police station to formally charge you. The police will then need to determine if they will release you on bail or whether they need to arrange for you to appear in Court.

“Police” bail is when the police make a determination to release you on the basis that you will comply with your bail conditions and attend Court for your offences in which you have been charged. You will need to sign a form acknowledging your bail conditions. If you have been released on bail by the police, you will also receive a document that provides the reasons that have provided by the police in granting you bail and the conditions of your bail.

It is important for your lawyer to understand the reasons as to why police determined to release you on bail and to know the bail conditions. A lawyer can then explain to you what your obligations are and whether an application could be made to vary or revoke any of the conditions of your bail at Court.

Apprehended Violence Orders

The Apprehended Violence Order (including a “provisional” AVO) details the person who has been identified as a person in need of protection. It may also explicitly list children of the relationship, if the AVO has arisen out of an alleged dispute within a domestic relationship.

The AVO will also set out the conditions of the AVO. This can include, for example, whether you are permitted to contact the protected person, or whether you can return to the home that you may share with the protected person. A lawyer cannot advise you properly in an AVO matter if they do not have a copy of the AVO

Brief Documents

You may have already been served with brief items already. A brief is a volume of statements and evidence that the police seek to rely upon in their case against you. This could include evidence such as witness statements, police statements, a copy of a Domestic Violence Evidence in Chief (DVEC) or CCTV footage.

By reviewing your brief, your lawyer will be able to determine the strength of the prosecution case against you, advise you as to whether any subpoenas need to be issued and provide detailed advice as to how your case should be prepared.