If you look under the Criminal Law and the Family Law pages, you will find general ranges of legal costs we charge for those services.
We are constantly on the lookout for ways to lower your legal costs.
We have a commitment to providing legal services that are affordable – this is not just a catchphrase, we really mean it. We pride ourselves on providing a first-class service, without a first-class price.
- Bill Morris was a Magistrate in South Australia for about 8 years and he has seen firsthand how expensive access to justice really is. In his view legal costs need to be actively considered and reviewed by the lawyer at all material times to see how they can be reduced or costs avoided.
- The many years of experience of our lawyers enables us to identify the most cost-effective way to achieve the outcome you are seeking. We pass that cost saving onto you.
- We do all that we can to ensure that our clients’ matters are resolved at the earliest possible opportunity which saves on unnecessary time and expense in legal fees.
- You will not see Northside Lawyers advertising on late night TV, or huge billboards on the side of the road displaying cute dogs and cats. This is because we are determined to run our office on a low advertising costs and low overheads basis. That way, we can keep our charges to our clients lower.
- Our best advertising is that we get about 60% of our new clients coming to us on the recommendation of past clients who we have worked for or people who already know us for other reasons. You can’t ask for a better recommendation than that.
- We do not use credit card facilities like many other lawyers and businesses. This is because of the simple fact that we do not have to pass onto you in our hourly rate the credit card charges imposed on us for using the card facilities. This keeps our hourly rate low as we do not have to recover the additional expense.
- We utilise the best workplace software and computer equipment to make our tasks more efficient. Amongst other thing we deploy software, including speech to text software that reduces the time taken to administer your file. By creating documents using a high level of automation we pass those cost savings in our time on to our clients. It is in no small part due to technological innovation that we have not had to increase our current hourly rate for the last 6 years.
- Whenever possible we consider the internal use of para-legal or law clerks to do the routine work on clients’ files which is work that does not require any special legal skill and we charge that routine work at the lower rate, not at the lawyer’s rate. In this way we pass this cost saving onto you.
- We ask our clients to deposit funds into our trust account for the estimated cost of the work to be done and we ask for those funds to be deposited in advance of the work being done.
- That money is held in trust your name and used to pay our invoices, but only after you have approved the invoice for payment. Any unused funds are returned to you at the end of your matter.
- This means that unlike other lawyers we do not have to increase our hourly rate to take into account losses from unpaid accounts and further, we do not need to pay extra office staff to send out reminders to clients to pay their accounts. This keeps our office running costs down and lower running costs means we can charge a lower rate to our clients.
- You will find that when you call us, our front of house staff will try to assist you with the reasons that you have called as it may be a matter that does not require legal skill or knowledge. They are experienced staff – most of them are trainee lawyers. It costs less for the front of house staff to resolve your enquiry than engaging the lawyer. This lessens your legal costs.
- We don’t have many permanent office staff. We employ our office staff as part-timers and casuals so that we have the flexibility to cater for busy periods without having paid staff sitting around idle when there is less administrative work required. Our staff like this arrangement too, especially those who have commitments for the care of children.
At Northside Lawyers we take the issue of our client’s legal fees very seriously.
We work hard to be an affordable law firm because we believe that hard-working people who are not eligible for legal aid should have access to affordable legal representation. That is why we charge below the standard rates of what lawyers with our level of experience could normally charge.
We are confident you will find that we apply probably the lowest hourly rate in the Northern suburbs of Adelaide for the services of experienced lawyers such as ourselves.
In fact, our hourly rate for our senior lawyers is the same or less than many other legal firms charge for the services of their most junior lawyer.
- Bill Morris (who is a former Magistrate) and Jack Hetzel-Bone, both of whom are very experienced lawyers, charge an hourly rate of $350 (plus GST).
- Our law clerk/para-legal rate is $180 per hour (plus GST).
- If you go to our Family Law page or the Criminal Law page, you will see the generalised legal costs in the normal cases in those types of matters.
- All lawyers are required by law to provide each client with an estimate of the legal costs to do the work they are proposing to do for that client.
- They are also required to explain the basis on which their legal fees are calculated.
- All lawyers are also required by law to provide you with certain consumer-type information in relation your rights and their obligations in relation to legal costs.
- Northside Lawyers will always provide you with this information. It is quite a lot of information and some people get daunted by having all this information provided at the outset, but you are entitled to request it from any lawyer who you are considering engaging to represent you and we certainly provide it all at the outset before you decide to go ahead.
- It is important to remember that the estimate is just that, an estimate. It is not a quote or a fixed maximum charge. Having said that however the estimate is a reasonable one and is based on the information that you provide at the time the estimate is provided. Unless you enter into a fixed price agreement the actual cost charged to you will be based on the work reasonably necessary to be done and the expenses incurred.
- Until the work is embarked upon it is impossible to be entirely sure of the all the issues that will arise which can affect costs, however experienced lawyers will be able to give you a reliable cost estimate as well as an indication of the things which might arise in your own matter that could cause the actual costs to go beyond the estimate.
- As a general indication, the types of issues which may be difficult to anticipate at the outset and which can cause your legal costs to go above the estimated cost are:
- The extent that the claim is defended/pressed by the other side, including the extent to which they engage in interim hearings or interlocutory disputation;
- The availability of courts and judges to hear your matter and the extent to which it may have to be adjourned because of unavailability of courts or judges;
- The number of experts required to assist with the evidence in your matter, and the rates charged by them;
- The time or communication that you seek to have with your lawyer that is beyond what he or she reasonably requires to provide the service to you;
- Whether you respond in a timely manner to requests for documents or information needed to conduct your matter;
- The original intended scope of work changing because of the conduct of the other party or for other reasons;
- The extent to which you require information and feedback as to the progress of your matter.
- Get an estimate of your expected total legal fees in advance prior to engaging your lawyer.
- Have you had it confirmed in writing before you decide? You should do this if the legal costs are going to be significant for you.
- At Northside Lawyers we welcome questions about legal costs and understand that it is a matter that is most important to you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about legal costs. Use our free first interview to get all the information you need about how we can keep your legal costs down.
- What is our hourly rate for lawyer’s work at Northside Lawyers you ask?
- Well it is $350 per hour plus GST for lawyer’s time but we try to have our other staff do work on your file who charge at much lower rates than that – see our terms of services for details.
- Before making any decision, we suggest you read your terms of services document (sometimes called retainer or engagement letter).
- This sets out the basis on which a lawyer charges for his or her time.
- It’s important that you know how you’re being charged, and the circumstances in which your fees may exceed the estimate you have been given.
- If your lawyer won’t freely discuss his or her fees and how they charge then you should consider getting another lawyer.
- Every lawyer should be up front about their costs and is obliged to provide you with terms of services and estimates of legal costs for the work you are seeking.
- If a lawyer who charges a low hourly rate does very many hours of work on your file at that low rate, the overall cost can still be higher than for a lawyer who charges a higher hourly rate but spends less hours to finalise your matter.
- The number of hours a lawyer spends working on your matter will vary according to the efficiency of their office equipment and will also depend on their work practices, their experience and the type of approach they take to resolving your matter.
- At Northside Lawyers we have the experience to allow us to identify the most cost effective ways of tackling your legal matter. We also use the very latest software and hardware including speech recognition transcribing software – all this translates into lower costs to you.
- Hourly rate is a very important indicator of what your legal costs are going to be when compared to other lawyers on a different rate but is not the only consideration.
- The best outcome for you is to find a lawyer who charges a low hourly rate and who will work efficiently and effectively on your file from a modern office in which the latest technology is deployed so as to minimise the number of hours work required to complete your matter. This is what we offer at Northside Lawyers. Use our free first interview to talk to us about keeping your legal costs down.
- It is the usual business practice of Northside Lawyers, as it is of many lawyers, to ask for funds to be deposited into our trust account in advance of commencing to do legal work on a client’s matter. (As explained elsewhere in these FAQs, this is one of the ways we have of keeping our hourly rates to you as low as possible.)
- When a client deposits funds into our trust account an entry is made in the trust ledger showing the amount of funds which are now held in trust in that client’s name.
- Northside Lawyers cannot deal with that money held in trust for a client unless the client first expressly or impliedly approves of the transaction.
- At certain stages of the work being done for you, Northside Lawyers will send you a detailed invoice for the legal costs to date for that work done. If you do not have an issue with the invoice, then the funds held in our trust account in your name will be applied to pay that invoice.
- If you do have an issue with the invoice, or a query about it, we will not transfer the funds to pay that invoice until the query has been resolved between us.
- If there are funds remaining in our trust account held in your name and your matter is finalised then we will refund those unused funds to you.
- All lawyers are obliged by law to provide an invitation for you to consider the terms of the services they are offering to you. This is often called a ‘terms of services’ document (also called a retainer or a costs agreement).
- It is an invitation to consider the terms of our services and you are not obligated to agree to it unless you wish to do so.
- The main feature of the terms of services we supply at Northside Lawyers is that even if you have signed or indicated by email that you have accepted our terms of services you can still change your mind at any time and cancel the agreement, without any financial or other penalty for having done so.
- There are other documents that will be attached to the email by which we will usually send our terms of services to you. These other documents are consumer-type information that are worthy of reading as they set out your rights in relation to legal costs.
- Whilst the terms of service document is lengthy, please do let this deter you from reading it. Much of it consists of disclosures which we are obliged to make to you because of legislation designed to protect your interests. You are not charged for the preparation of the terms of services document.
- If there are any matters in our terms of services which you disagree with or do not understand, please feel free to contact us. You are of course, entitled to obtain independent legal advice as to the contents of our terms of services if you choose to do so.
At Northside Lawyers, we don’t like to offer ‘No Win, No Fee’ arrangements at all.
Firstly, it is not lawful for lawyers to offer no win no fee arrangements in relation to Family Law or Criminal Law matters, so no lawyers will be offering this to you in these areas of the law.
Like some lawyers we may offer what is known as a ‘deferred payment arrangement’ in certain types of matters, but this is very different to a No Win, No Fee arrangement.
See the FAQs for more on deferred payment arrangements or take advantage of our free first interview and come in and speak with us about this.
There are good reasons why we do not offer No Win, No Fee arrangements and the primary one is that it is very much more expensive for the client to enter into a No Win, No Fee arrangement than a deferred payment arrangement.
No Win, No Fee arrangements can, we agree, be suitable in some limited circumstances, but before entering in to them you should be most careful to understand the exact arrangement and what the full costs to you could be, whether you win or lose.
There are some reputable lawyers who do offer No Win, No Fee arrangements and in some limited circumstances it is probably the only way forward for the client.
With No Win, No Fee, if you lose then you do not have to pay anything, right?
Well no, this is not right. If you lose you normally have to pay the legal costs of the other party.
You may be told that if you are not ‘successful’ then you don’t have to pay your lawyer for the work done by them, so you have to look very carefully at what they say in the agreement is considered a ‘success’. It might not be what you are thinking as ‘successful’. If they succeed in getting you one dollar is that success? I recommend you look this one up carefully.
It is often true that you do not have to pay your lawyer for your legal fees if you lose, however you should understand what ‘lose’ means in their agreement. Losing might not be what you are thinking is meant by ‘losing’ in ordinary language. If you win your case and get paid some money from which you then have to pay not only your legal costs but also the uplift factor on the No Win, No Fee arrangement, you might not be left with much at all and perhaps with nothing – would you still feel that you had ‘won’?.
Win or lose there are still other costs that you may have to pay such as certain expenditures in relation to your case as you go along. Lawyers call these costs ‘disbursements’, not ‘fees’.
Disbursements include costs such as:
- court filing fees,
- court fees as the matter progresses
- fees for medical or other expert reports.
So, No Win, No Fee does not normally mean that you pay nothing at all if you lose.
The big issue – the uplift factor
The agreement that you sign may already include your No Win, No Fee lawyer charging you more than the base scale rate.
On top of this the No Win, No Fee lawyer normally charges an additional ‘uplift factor’.
If you ‘win’ or ‘succeed’ you are highly likely to have to pay that ‘uplift factor’ (also called ‘success fee’) whereby the lawyer charges an additional extra % of the agreed fee.
You don’t often see the uplift factor referred to on the web pages – so make a special point of asking about this because normal lawyers charge no uplift factor.
We have been told that uplift factors of an additional 20% on top of the normal charge are common. So, you must pay 20% more than the lawyer’s base fee that you have agreed to pay.
There are good reasons why a lawyer might charge an uplift factor and that is because the lawyer is taking the commercial risk of getting paid nothing if you were to receive nothing. But really, you might wonder what was the risk that you were not going to win something?
So, a No Win, No Fee arrangement might suit you in limited circumstances but if there is a strong chance that you are going to succeed then, like Northside Lawyers, many lawyers will consider you suitable for a deferred payment arrangement.
A deferred payment arrangement is one where we agree that you will pay us but only when you get paid as part of the settlement that together we achieve in relation to your matter.
Unlike the No Win, No Fee arrangement, there are no extra costs to you and no extra fees like uplift factors.
So, this is easy, if you don’t have the money right now to fund your matter then discuss with us whether your matter is suitable for a deferred payment arrangement.
There is absolutely no additional costs to you over the normal low costs we charge.
The best way to sort this out is to come and see us for a free first interview.
You may find it uncomfortable to think about your own death and for that reason, would rather avoid thinking about what would happen to your assets and your family if you were to die.
Should you die unexpectedly without a valid Will the process of sorting out your affairs can be far more time consuming, stressful, and costly for your family than it needs to be.
What will happen if you die WITHOUT leaving a valid Will?
This is a BIG issue.
If you have no will and you are survived by a spouse (married or de facto), but no children, then your entire estate, 100% will, by law, pass to your spouse.
This is so even if you were separated from your spouse and even if you had made a property settlement between you. So the former spouse from whom you had separated and even if you have had a property settlement, will get 100% of your estate. Is that what you really intend?
See us about a will. You really need to do something about this if this is your situation.
Another issue you might not know about
If you have a Will but then married after you signed that Will then you may be shocked to know that the Will is now of no legal effect! That’s right no effect! You will be treated as having died without a Will. You really should consider updating your Will if this is your situation.
Yet another issue if you do not have a Will
If you do not have a Will (or have one but that it is no longer of any legal effect) then you must consider the following if you have adult or infant children at the time of your death.
If you are survived by your spouse (married or de facto) and one or more of your children, then, by law, the first $100,000 of your estate, plus half of the balance of your estate, goes to your spouse.
The other half of the balance of your estate will be divided equally between your children.
This could result in unhappy complications for your family if the family home makes up a large portion of your estate because it will have to be sold.
This may not be what you would have wished for had you known. Again, if this is your situation please contact us about making or updating your Will.
If you were to leave no spouse or children, then your entire estate will be divided amongst certain of your relatives, chosen by the law, not by you.
If there are no relatives, it will all go to the Crown (the government). Many people would think this a seriously bad outcome. You should think carefully about making a Will if this if this is your situation.
A Will allows you to make legally enforceable decisions now about what is to happen following your death in terms of the following:
- How your property will be distributed to family, friends or charities.
- Who will take care of your young children.
- Who will administer your estate (do what is necessary to finalise your affairs).
If you currently have a Will, does it need updating?
If you have separated from your spouse, divorced or re-married or commenced a de-facto relationship since making your Will then it’s usually a good idea to update your Will.
For example, marriage in most circumstances will automatically revoke your current Will, leaving you without a Will. If you are separated, but not yet legally divorced, your current Will applies in the event of your death. Often this means your entire estate will go to your spouse from whom you’ve separated and not your children or other loved ones.
There are many other considerations also which can be dealt with in your Will so that your own wishes are carried into effect upon your death and the impact on yourloved ones is minimised.
Northside Lawyers can arrange help you with this for a very reasonable price.
Your Will can be done in your own home or at a hospital or your place of business too! Please telephone us for a quote or an appointment.
Growing cannabis in your own home Yes! You can lose your home!
You may be more than a bit alarmed to know that if you have been charged with cultivating cannabis in your own home then your home may be at risk of forfeiture. The Government (via the Director of Public Prosecutions (‘the DPP’)) can make an application for the forfeiture of your home if you have used it in the commission of an offence that is classified as a ‘serious offence’ under the Criminal Assets Confiscation Act SA (‘the CAC Act’).
The DPP can bring an application without any warning to you
The DPP could initiate the forfeiture proceedings before your guilt or innocence is even decided and certainly if you have pleaded guilty and had your matter finalised, the DPP can then bring an application for forfeiture without any warning to you. There are three basic legal ways a residential home or commercial property (‘real property’) can be forfeited to the Government.
The 1st way: Restraining Order leading to automatic forfeiture
Once a person has been charged with an offence which is classified as a ‘serious offence’ under the South Australian Criminal Assets Confiscation Act (‘the CAC Act’) the DPP may make an application for a restraining order over any real property used in the commission of the serious offence (or property that is the proceeds of crime). A restraining order must be personally served on you, so you will have notice of this should it occur.
The restraining order on the face of it merely prevents you dealing with the real property, such as by selling it or changing your interest it in. But there is a trap in the restraining order that you might not be aware of.
There is a very nasty trap in the restraining order that you must be aware of.
If a restraining order is served on you and you have then pleaded guilty to what is classified as a serious offence under the CAC Act and if you have not filed an application to exempt the property from the restraining order, then 6 months after you were convicted the property is forfeited – that’s it! There is no need for the DPP to go back to court – you get no warning or legal opportunity, it just happens automatically. Your home is forfeited to the Government.
So you can see that if you have been served with a restraining order, it is very important that you take action to have the property excluded from the restraining order.
If you have been served with a restraining order on your property you absolutely must see a lawyer
If you have been served with a restraining order on your property you absolutely must see a lawyer and make an application for the property to be exempt from the order. There are ways to get the property exempted from the order (and others who may be a part owner in the property, such as your partner, also have rights). It is beyond the scope of a short article like this to explain all these rights and opportunities in all their complexities.
As a former Magistrate I understand this restraining order process really well you. You should come to see me if you’re facing a restraining order.
As a former Magistrate I made such restraining orders. So, if you want to consult with a lawyer who knows this law really well then you really should come to see me before making a decision about whether to plead guilty to such an offence.
- Here is a typical scenario of growing cannabis at home (Note to Adam, please make this a link to the scenario later in this document).
The 2nd way: General forfeiture order (‘GFO’)
The DPP can make an application for forfeiture of your home within 6 months of your conviction of a ‘serious offence’. There is no way to know in advance whether the DPP will make such an application except to say that they cannot make an application unless you have used your home in the commission of a ‘serious offence’.
You won’t get any warning that these applications are going to happen
You won’t get any warning that these applications are going to happen until it is almost too late. You will probably only learn about this type of application after you have pleaded guilty to, or been found guilty of, the serious offence. Clearly, the best way to avoid such an application is to make sure you do not plead guilty or are not found guilty of a ‘serious offence’.
The 3rd way: Pecuniary Penalty Order (‘PPO’)
If you are convicted of a ‘serious offence’ the DPP can apply to the court for an order that you are to pay an amount determined by the Court under s 99 of the CAC Act as a pecuniary penalty. That court order is a pecuniary penalty order.
The amount that the court fixes as a pecuniary penalty can be very significant – so significant that you would be unable to raise the funds to pay that amount other than by selling your house.
The amount of the penalty order is highly negotiable with the DPP and usually reflects the degree of use of the property when compared with the whole value of the property.
- Read my take away message regarding the potential for forfeiture (Note to Adam, please make that last sentence a link to the heading “Take Away Message” which is later in this document).
Growing cannabis at home – a typical (and risky) scenario
You are a 50/50 owner with your partner of a residential home that you live in. Instead of buying cannabis you decide to grow it at home. You decide to fit out a room in the shed to grow the cannabis hydroponically.
- You put a locked door on the room in the shed and keep it locked to keep your kids out.
- You grow 9 plants under lights, feeding the plants using associated hydroponic equipment.
- You install into the ceiling exhaust fans fitted with carbon filters to prevent that tell-tale smell from escaping.
- Your mate helped you divert the domestic electricity supply to the home around the meter as the lights are expensive to run.
- The plants were growing very well and so you cut some cannabis head from the crop and have it in the room drying out. That wet cannabis weighs in at about 800 grams.
Assuming that, despite your objections, the police lawfully enter and search your home and find all of the above which they photograph and seize, you now find yourself charged with the following offences:
- Trafficking in cannabis (remember you had possession of the 800 grams of cannabis head) contrary to s 32(3) of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and
- Cultivating more that the prescribed number of controlled plants (remember you had 9 plants growing) contrary to s 33K(1) of the CSA, and
- Possession of prescribed equipment, namely the lights and other equipment used for the indoor growing, contrary to s 33LA of the CSA.
- Unlawfully taking electricity or interfering with a meter contrary to section 85 of the Electricity Act.
Let us assume that you have not yet been served with a restraining order**.
**(Remember if you have, then you need to file an application for exemption of the home from the restraining order, otherwise your home is likely to be forfeited automatically.)
Are you now at risk of forfeiture of your home?
In this situation there are basically two issues to resolve:
1st Issue: Can it be said that your home was used as ‘an instrument’ in connection with the commission of an offence which is classified as ‘serious offence’. under the CAC Act?
Your home is ‘used as an instrument in the commission’ of an offence where it facilitates, assists or in some material way contributes to the commission of an offence.
2nd Issue: Are you charged with an offence which is classified as ‘serious’ under the CAC Act?
In our scenario where you are charged with a number of offences it would be necessary to look at each of those offences to see whether any of them is classified as a ‘serious offence’ under the CAC Act.
Certainly, the charge of trafficking is a ‘serious offence’ under the CAC Act, so in this scenario you are now at risk of forfeiture of your home.
The allegation is that you intended to sell the cut 800 grams of cannabis. (Trafficking simply means selling cannabis or intending to do so.) The maximum penalty for trafficking in cannabis, being a basic offence, is $50,000 or imprisonment for 10 years, or both.
So, if you plead guilty to trafficking, or if you plead not guilty but are then found guilty, you are then at risk of the DPP making an application for the forfeiture of your home.
But I only grew it and cut it for my own use
I can hear you saying
‘But I only grew it and cut it for my own use. How am I charged with trafficking when I wasn’t going to sell any at all?’
The amount that you have cut from the growing cannabis was weighed by the police at the time of seizure at about 800 grams. Sure the cannabis was wet at the time. Unfortunately, based on the weight of the cannabis at the time of seizure, you had more than ‘the prescribed amount’ in your possession. So, you are deemed by law to have had it for the purposes of sale and intending to sell it.
The onus therefore then falls on you to prove, by giving or presenting evidence sufficient to satisfy the court, that you did not intend to sell it. The prosecution do not have to prove anything other than that the cannabis was more that the prescribed amount and that it was in your possession.
So, on the face of it you have used your residential home to facilitate the commission of a ‘serious offence’ under the CAC Act and so your home is now at risk of forfeiture.
If you want to avoid the complexities of defending an application to have your home forfeited or an application for a pecuniary penalty order, you should seriously consider pleading not guilty to trafficking and try to prove to the court what you say is true, that you only grew it and cut it for your own use.
4 Take Away Messages
As a former Magistrate who has dealt with these types of orders here are my take-away messages.
- There is a lot of rubbish about this topic on the internet, some of it is plain wrong and much of it relates to the position in other States of Australia so stop reading it and consult a lawyer who can relate the law to your personal circumstances.
- If you have been served with a restraining order you should immediately consult with a lawyer to get advice about having your home exempted from the order, otherwise if you later plead guilty to the drug charges and if they are serious offences, then your home will automatically be forfeited 6 months following your conviction. Don’t forget, your partner who is a part owner has rights too and they should exercise them.
- If you are charged with drug offences and you have used your home to facilitate the offence you should consult a lawyer before pleading to any such charges because if later you find out you have pleaded to what is classified as a ‘serious offence’ under the CAC Act then your home is at risk of an application for a general order of forfeiture or a pecuniary penalty order.
- If you have got this far then you have read a lot and have a personal reason for doing so You should consider getting some sound legal advice and if necessary, competent legal representation from me, a former Magistrate who used to deal with these matters. Take up my offer of a free first interview – Bill Morris Northside Lawyers.
Murder and assault causing harm
The South Australian criminal legal system, just like the rest of Australia, assumes that two parties, who equally financially resourced and equipped, are opposed to each other will fight out their case, supervised by a Judge, in front of a jury of ordinary people who will decide the truth or otherwise of the allegations. This is the so-called adversarial model of justice.
The DPP will use a skilled and senior barrister to prosecute you in a murder trial – what are you going to do?
So, if you are a charged with murder or a serious assault causing some kind of harm, you are probably charged with a major indictable offence and will need to get geared up with competent lawyers because the Government, through the Office of the Direction of Public Prosecution (the DPP), will be geared up and well-resourced to present their case against you.
This is no walk in the park. You can anticipate the DPP lawyer will be very experienced and skilled and will have solicitors and the full resources of the police investigators at their disposal.
Unless you elect to be tried by a Judge alone, sitting without a jury, it will be jury of 12 ordinary people that decides, based on how the case is presented to them, what are the proven facts and whether or not you are guilty. What are you going to do?
It is not enough to rely on the presumption of innocence – it is better to do absolutely everything you can to prove your own case
Sure, there is a legal principle called the presumption of innocence! It is the prosecution that has to prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt and you don’t have to prove anything – right? If that is all you have as your defence then you are in serious trouble.
Selecting your own legal team is probably going to be the most important thing that you will do
Selecting your own legal team is probably going to be the most important decision that you will make – this is serious.
Your defence team must aggressively probe and seek to weaken the prosecution case and importantly, your defence team must also robustly seek ways to prove your case. It is not enough to rely on the presumption of evidence. It is far better to do all you can to prove your own case.
We can pull together the best and cost effective legal team for you.
The State is the adversary, not the person who has made the complaint. You need a team that will fight for your rights and aggressively present your own case.
I have significant experience to call upon in the criminal justice system and have acted in probably the longest criminal murder trial in South Australia history, commonly referred to as ‘the Snowtown Murders – you have probably heard of it or seen the movie.
Our hourly rate for time spent by a lawyer exercising legal skill or knowledge is less than the recommended court scale rate and certainly less than many other criminal lawyers, but we will fight hard for your rights and more importantly struggle with you to establish your innocence. We will not simply rely upon the presumption of innocence to do the work.
Come and see me, Bill Morris, for a free first interview – see if you think we are a good fit for you.
Rape and Historical Sexual Misconduct Allegations
Allegations of sexual misconduct, including conduct alleged to have taken place many years ago, are a hot media topic right now. Many recent allegations have been made about film and other media personalities in Australia, including a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. But this phenomenon is not new, and it is not limited to media personalities. When such incidents get such wide publicity it often stimulates others in the community to make similar complaints.
Any right-minded person would have to admit of the likelihood that not all the complaints would be for genuine reasons. Our own human experiences would inform us that there are many and powerful reasons why people might make false or misleading complaints about such matters and I am not convinced that getting money is the strongest of the motivations.
In some countries the law places a limitation of time on sexual misconduct complaints such that the authorities cannot proceed with criminal charges unless they are brought within that time limit. It used to be the case here in South Australia too, but that was changed some years ago now. There is no limitation of time for commencing criminal proceedings in South Australia in response to allegations of sexual misconduct.
Sexual conduct usually takes place between 2 people in a private place with no witnesses who can reliably and credibly say what really happened, so most defendants are placed in the position that if the charges are laid, it is usually one word against the other about what happened during that private sexual activity.
To merely deny the allegation and rely on the presumption of innocent is a game that has less a chance of success than playing Russian roulette.
You might be comforted by the presumption of innocence, namely the principle that you are innocent unless the allegations are proven against you beyond a reasonable doubt. It is true the prosecution that has to prove the case against you and you are not required to prove anything however to merely deny the allegation and rely on the presumption of innocence is a game that has less a chance of success than playing Russian roulette – you give yourself little more than a 50/50 chance that you will be found innocent.
In my experience, unless you make a special effort in presenting your defence and have competent and experienced barristers, solicitors and skilled private investigators probing and testing the case against you and robustly presenting your case, then you are probably going to be found guilty.
You are not guilty of rape simply because the complainant was not consenting
Many people seem to think that a defendant is guilty of rape simply because the complainant was not consenting when sexual intercourse took place however, as a matter of law they are plainly wrong about that.
In general terms it is only rape if you, the defendant, knew the complainant was not consenting. The consequence is that even where a victim does not consent, the defendant may not be guilty of rape.
The fact that allegations often relate to incidents alleged to have occurred many years ago always renders the defendant at a serious disadvantage in establishing what, if anything, at all happened all those years ago.
The prosecutorial stance in these matters is that even if the complaint is not able to be substantiated from any other source independent of the complainant, provided it is inherently credible they will go ahead with the prosecution and ‘let the jury decide.’ The fact that complaints are made years and years after the events is almost irrelevant.
You do need a lawyer who will aggressively consider your position and actively investigate the credibility of the complaint
If you are charged with rape or other sexual misconduct and particularly if it is a historical allegation, you do need a lawyer who will aggressively consider your position and actively investigate the credibility of the complaint and not one who merely reacts to the allegations made against you.
Our hourly rate for time spent by a lawyer exercising legal skill or knowledge is less than the recommended court scale rate and certainly less than many other criminal lawyers, but we will fight for your rights and more importantly struggle with you to establish your innocence. We will not merely rely upon the presumption of innocence to do the work.
If you are charged with a sexual offence be it rape or otherwise and particularly if it is a historical offence, you should really consider coming to seem me, Bill Morris, for a free first interview and see if you think I am the right fit to defend you.