Paedophile Restraining Orders Adelaide

Child Sex Offenders Registration Act 2006

At Woods & Co Lawyers we have experience in dealing with many clients who have fallen under the very harsh provisions of the National Sex Register.  One only needs to look at the so-called public view to realise that in general the public have little understanding nor patience or tolerance in this area. That might be understandable in some cases but as per usual, the net has been cast wider than you might think.

Unfortunately, there is so much misinformation out there and our Parliament has in our view failed to adequately address many of the issues.

For instance, a 20-year-old male goes out with a girl who is 16 years old and turning 17 years shortly.  They have sexual intercourse by consent. There is no complaint at the time and they continue to date for over 4 years.  Upon breaking up things turn nasty and a complaint is made of Unlawful Sexual Intercourse.  The client is charged and makes admissions.  He is on the Child Sex Register for life.  Is that really what we want in our society?  We have dealt with cases like this and would hate to think a young man would be branded a paedophile for life. 

At Woods & Co we will fight to protect your rights.  While what we do is considered unsavory by some, we are committed to providing clients with forthright and honest advice whatever predicament you have found yourself in.  Please call our team and make an appointment

CHILD SEX OFFENDERS REGISTRATION

Are you a registrable offender? Are you on the Australian National Child Offender Register (ANCOR)?

You may well be if:

  • You have been convicted of a child sex offence; or
  • You are the subject of a paedophile restraining order.

If you are a registrable offender, you must begin reporting to the authorities. How long you have to report, and what you need to report, depends upon a number of factors. It can vary from around 8 years to the rest of your life.

Facts that affect how long you have to report:

  • Whether it is a class 1 or class 2 offence;
  • How many offences;
  • Whether you are a registrable or serious registrable offender.

We can assist you if:

  • You are being investigated by police; or
  • Are currently before the Court; or
  • You have already been sentenced for a child sex offence, whether recently or decades ago.

You may need assistance to understand exactly what you are required to report both at the initial report and every year thereafter. For example, questions might include:

  • What exactly constitutes reportable contact with a child?
  • What should you do if unexpected reportable contact occurs?

It is important to understand fully your obligations under the Act.

Offences for failing to comply with your reporting obligations or presenting false or misleading information when reporting can attract penalties of up to 5 years imprisonment.

Some people can apply to the Supreme Court to have their reporting conditions suspended. This is possible where:

  • A person is required to report to the authorities at ANCOR for the rest of their life;
  • 15 years have passed since sentencing or release from custody;
  • It can be shown the person is no longer a risk to children.

On multiple occasions, we have made successful applications for the suspension of our clients’ reporting obligations.

Similarly, we assist our clients to apply for a declaration by the Commissioner of the South Australian Police (SAPOL) to enable them to:

  • Re-engage in child-related work; or
  • Modify their reporting obligations.

Such applications can be made 12 months into the reporting period.

A person can only make an application for such a declaration if their offending involved an indecent assault, an act of gross indecency, or unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 17 but above the age of 13. There are other restrictions on who can apply and again we must satisfy the Commissioner that our client does not pose a risk to children.

If you are a registrable offender, you must notify a parent or guardian both that you are a registrable offender and what offence led you to become a registrable offender, if you intend to reside with a child or stay overnight at a place where a child is present. The Act still requires you to tell parents and guardians, even after you no longer have to report.

Where a person fails to tell a parent or guardian that they are on the child sex register, they can be prosecuted and sentenced to up to 5 years imprisonment.

We have campaigned for the South Australian Government to have this legislation changed. In our view, this section creates the most onerous and shameful obligation under the Act. Surely if the Court has the power to dispense with the need to report to the ANCOR altogether, Parliament should not require this obligation to remain irrespective.  It cannot be in the public interest to brand people for life in all cases.  Despite our representations to the Attorney General the Act is yet to change.  Not all offenders deserve to be on the Register for life.

Supreme Court Class Action

DTEI Class Action Update

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SUPREME COURT CLASS ACTION – UPDATE 25 January 2012

Thank you for your patience and ongoing interest in respect of the Department for Transport disqualification matters.

In our last update and last correspondence to those affected by this matter, we notified you that the firm, Johnson Withers, was embarking on launching a Class Action against the decision of the Department for Transport. To assist them in covering legal fees, we asked our clients and others interested in this matter to contribute $500.00 (plus GST) towards the cost of the Supreme Court Action.

Unfortunately, the response has been quite poor. We have had only six or seven calls to our office and recent contact with Johnston Withers suggests that only fifteen people have placed funds into trust. Basically, this means that the class action will not be launched.

Until such time as Johnston Withers can generate sufficient funds to cover the cost of such an action, the situation for those affected by this matter will remain unchanged. In short, your licence disqualifications will remain in force and after reflecting on the instructions provided by this office, the licence disqualification is more than just a mere inconvenience to you.

If you can generate funds in respect of this matter, we ask that you immediately contact Johnston Withers (Ph: 8231 1110) in relation to the class action, and they have requested that funds be immediately placed into trust. A representative from Johnston Withers has advised that given the limited numbers of people prepared to fund the matter, it is likely that they are going to have to ask for a higher contribution. In short, the fewer the number of contributors, the higher the contribution will need to be. Conversely, the more contributors, the smaller the contribution.

For those who are only affected by a three-month disqualification, it may be the case that your disqualification period has already expired. However, there are others suffering 6, 12 and even longer disqualification periods; you are no doubt feeling the full force of how the disqualification is affecting your everyday life.

We look forward to your response. We at Woods & Co will keep trying to protect your rights. Whether we are successful or not we believe in continually raising and fighting issues that appear to be unfair.

Thankyou

Michael Woods

Legal Rights and Procedures

Guilty Pleas – Reduction In Sentence

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Traditionally, an accused person is given a discount for pleading guilty. It is said to be up to one-third of the sentence. In theory, the recognition of a person’s guilt demonstrates their remorse and contrition and saves the courts time. In the case of an offence where there is a victim, it also saves the victim the trauma of a court case.

Presently, there is a Bill before Parliament, which is said to stipulate certain levels of discount when a person pleads guilty. The earlier the guilty plea, the more the discount. In fact, it is proposed that if a person pleads guilty within 4 weeks of the first court appearance then a discount of up to 40% may apply. Lesser discounts occur at different stages of the proceedings. It is claimed that these new provisions encapsulate the existing law. We disagree.

We at Woods & Co keep up to date with new changes, and are part of the Criminal Law Committee of the Law Society who are consulted on such changes.

At our firm, we take the view that such a system could lead to unfairness and inequity. The discounts appear to be linked to arbitrary times and not to stages and the appropriate and proper disclosure of information from the prosecution. At present, there are huge delays in electronic crime analysis. Many cases have internet, SMS messages, Facebook or other electronic data that is required. There are lengthy delays in the provision of Forensic material such as DNA and even drug analysis.

A solicitor will need to ensure that the client is properly informed at material stage as to the appropriate discounts. This applies even though the solicitor may not be able to advise you on the merits of any plea due to the non-disclosure of essential materials. If a solicitor advises you to take the discount without properly assessing the evidence, then that solicitor may be negligent. The drafters of the legislation would say that the accused can instruct the solicitor whether or not they are guilty. If it was that easy, lawyers would not need a law degree. Wait for the first person who takes the 40% discount only to find the ‘heroin” they had in their possession turned out to be caustic soda.

Hopefully, any changes will be linked to the proper disclosure of appropriate and proper information from the prosecution before an accused is called upon to respond.

delays in the justice system in adelaide

Delays in the Justice System 12 May 2015

There has been considerable focus in recent times about delays in the Criminal Justice System. All parties play an important role in delivering justice. Victims are entitled to efficient justice and an accused is also anxious to know his or her fate.

Many matters are dealt with by Police Prosecutors in the Magistrates Court. In my view, the delays are not significant in these types of matters. However, many serious matters have to be finalised in the Supreme or District Court of South Australia. Before a matter proceeds to the superior court, the Magistrates Court must hold a Committal process. At that stage, the court looks at the evidence and takes all reasonable inferences at the highest for the prosecution. Credit is not normally considered at this point and the test is really whether the elements of the offence have been made out or not.

There are significant pressures on an accused. Many recent changes to legislation continually make it harder for an accused to receive a sentence other than actual imprisonment. The system is supposed to encourage an early guilty plea where a person can receive up to 40 per cent discount for an early plea. However, if as defence lawyers we are simply advising a client that they will still likely go to gaol, then the incentive is not always there.

Many accused like to know what the case is against them. They can still receive 30% discount if they plead guilty before being sent to the District or Supreme Court. It is at this stage the delays are occurring. Many cases now rely upon CCTV footage, phone records, DNA evidence and other computer or phone evidence.  The delays in these matters are significant. They are not properly resourced and have not kept pace with technology. Police are under stress and the prosecution are under pressure. A forgotten participant is the accused who in my view is entitled to view the evidence against them before committing to a course. The state brings the prosecution with the resources of the state against the individual. Pressure for an early guilty plea to clear the backlog should not come at the cost of justice. At Woods and Co, we protect your rights.

demerit points

Demerit Points – Don’t Share

DEMERIT POINTS – YOUR FREEDOM IS WORTH MORE THAN YOUR LICENCE

I have said on many occasions that in this day and age it is very easy to collect a few points on your driver’s licence. Our politicians in South Australia are short of funds and will keep up the revenue raising under the guise of road safety. Yes, I know the comments from some people that say if you don’t do anything wrong you don’t pay. They are often the same ones who are doing 35km in front of everyone as the traffic in this state comes to a standstill.

At Woods & Co, we get calls from many families concerned that one of their children has committed a relatively minor traffic offence and will not be able to get to their job or carry it out. There is an easy temptation to assign the demerit points from that speed or traffic camera to another family member and hence share the pain. If caught it is a serious criminal offence. You may not think about the consequences but gaol is real.

Before making a decision call us. ‘P’ Plate licence holders can claim hardship provided they meet the lawful test. Full licence holders may be able to enter a good behaviour bond.

Importantly, any person may upon conviction apply to the court to have the demerit points reduced on the basis the offence is trifling or other proper cause.