LawBuddy Criminal Law Frequently Asked Questions
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What is the difference between an indictable, summary and regulatory offence?
The major difference between a summary and indictable offence is the seriousness of the crime; this affects how the courts will deal with these offences.
Summary offences are generally lesser offences and are almost always dealt with by a Magistrate in the Magistrates Court. Indictable offences are more serious offences and will normally need to be dealt with by a judge in either the District or Supreme Court; these proceedings will normally include a jury as well.
Some indictable offences can be dealt with summarily if the appropriate party elects, and some are dealt with summarily unless the defendant elects to have them tried before a jury. Some indictable offences must be heard and decided summarily.
All regulatory offences are dealt with summarily.
If I plead guilty in the Magistrates Court will I have a criminal record?
Pleading guilty to a crime does not always mean you will have a criminal record, it does still however mean you have committed a crime.
Depending on the circumstances the Magistrate may decide to order that no conviction is recorded.
As a general rule you may say that you have no criminal convictions if no conviction is recorded, however a multitude of exceptions apply depending on the circumstances under which you are asked.
How long does my criminal record last?
If you were given a sentence of less than 30 months in jail, and after which you have not broken the law again, and the rehabilitation period has passed, you may say you have no convictions (remembering the general rule in question 2, paragraph 3).
Will pleading guilty early help my case?
Pleading guilty early won’t necessarily provide a better outcome than going to trial (some charges may be dropped, or you may be found not guilty for example). However pleading guilty early will generally provide a better outcome than pleading guilty at a later date, or being found guilty of the same offence.
What is bail?
See our LawBuddy Dictionary.
What is parole?
See our LawBuddy Dictionary.
What is the role of the jury?
A jury in Queensland is a trier of fact. The jury in a criminal case will determine if enough evidence exists to convict the defendant of a charge.
This is opposed to the Judge, who will make decisions in regards to the law.
Can I appeal a sentence by a Magistrate?
A sentence handed down by a Magistrate may be appealed to a single District Court Judge.
Can I vote in prison?
If a person has been convicted of offence and is serving a sentence of less than three years you may vote in a federal election.
No prisoner is able to vote in state elections in Queensland, and no prisoner serving a sentence of more than 3 years is able to vote in a federal election.
I’ve received a Notice to Appear/ Complaint and Summons. What should I do?