The Most Common Myths About Criminal Law
In Australia there is sometimes confusion about how the criminal justice system works. Many people wrongly assume that the legal proceedings they see on TV, especially those in America, are how it works in real life.
This has led to many common myths and misconceptions about the process and what rights individuals do/do not have. There are also incorrect beliefs about the role of police and the nature of illegal activity in Australia.
This article will attempt to debunk some of the most common myths about criminal law in Australia. Anyone accused of an offence should seek the services of a criminal lawyer in Sydney to help them achieve the best possible outcome.
There Is No “Right” To Legal Representation
Many people who watch too much American television assume that the legal system in Australia works identically to the one on the United States. Just because our countries are culturally similar in some ways does not mean our laws are.
In Australia there is no legal right to an attorney for someone accused with an offence. There is a right to a fair trial and a right to seek legal representation but there is no rule stating that the accused must have an attorney.
People will also often assume that if they cannot afford a lawyer that Legal Aid will be granted to them. This is not guaranteed and if Legal Aid is denied then the accused person will have no attorney, needing to represent themselves in court. They will then have to face off against an experienced prosecution which is nearly impossible to win against for an inexperienced person.
The Police Are Not On Your Side
Another common misconception is that police will be helpful or more lenient if an accused person full cooperates with them. It can be easy to for people to feel intimidated and then kowtow to police demands but this will not help them with their case.
Police will often deliberately misinform people about what actions will be in their best interests. They might convince accused people to answer questions they are not required to or to not seek legal representation.
The police will try to convince people to plead guilty to charges that they do not need to. This can lead to sentences that are much harsher than they needed to be. For this reason people should always seek counsel and representation from a criminal lawyer Sydney so they get the fairest outcome.
People should always remain aware that the interests of the police are to secure prosecutions and not to help people avoid them. Nobody should allow themselves to be coerced into giving up protections under the guise of it being in their best interests.
Judges Are Not Necessarily Harsher Than Juries
People are often mistaken when thinking that a jury will be less likely to decide on a conviction than a judge. In reality having a trial by an alone Judge is more likely to result in success for defendants.
This is because a jury is made up on people who are not experts at law. They are more prone to making emotional decisions that do not properly weigh evidence and the mitigating circumstances of the case.
A judge on the other hand is a qualified expert in the law and appreciates the full extent of the evidence given. A judge is far less likely to apply their personal beliefs to any case because of the sheer volume they have dealt with. This means that a defendant will much more likely be acquitted or get a fairer sentence from a judge than a jury.
Court Is Nothing Like How It Is Portrayed On Television
Legal proceedings in television programs and movies are deliberately romanticised and dramatised to make them more exciting. The reality of court is far duller than most people will imagine.
While serious offences like murder might lead to emotional exchanges the vast majority of cases are very cut and dry affairs. This is especially true in the lower courts where hearing can be very brief.
Australians clearly carry with them some very unhelpful myths about the way criminal proceedings really operate. This obscures the fairness of the system for those who are ignorant of its reality.
Anyone accused of an offence should contact an experienced criminal lawyer in Sydney to ensure their best interests.