Criminal Law

Have you been charged with a criminal offence and need a criminal defence lawyer to represent you in court? Have you been handed a penalty or been found guilty and want to appeal? Do you have an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) against you and want to know your options?

If you find yourself in this situation, you don’t have to face it alone. The outcome of your court case could be life changing, so give yourself the best possible chance with one of our experienced Sydney criminal defence lawyers.

Here at King & York Lawyers, our criminal defence lawyers specialise in all criminal matters and we believe every individual is entitled to strong and competent legal representation.

Our Sydney criminal lawyers have considerable experience in defending:

  • Assault offences: common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, reckless wounding, reckless grievous bodily harm, intent to cause grievous bodily harm, wounding with intent, causing grievous bodily harm by unlawful or negligent act, resisting police or resisting arrest, assault police in execution of duty, assault causing death (one punch laws), aggravated assault, assault in self defence
  • Sexual offences: indecent assault, act of indecency, obscene exposure, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, bestiality, procuring for prostitution, procuring person to prostitution for drugs, upskirting, sexual offences against children, sexual harassment, intimidation and stalking
  • Robbery offences: robbery/stealing from person, armed robbery, aggravated armed robbery, armed robbery in company, armed robbery with wounding, demanding property with intent to steal
  • Break, enter and steal offences: break, enter and steal, possess house breaking implements, steal from dwelling house, goods in custody, illegal use of motor vehicle (joy riding), illegal use of motor vehicle (car stealing), receiving stolen goods
  • Theft offences: larceny, receiving or handling the proceeds of crime, theft of intellectual property
  • Extortion offences: blackmail, threatening letters, accusing or threatening to accuse of crime to extort money, kidnapping
  • Perjury and false statement: concealing serious offence, false accusations, hindering an investigation, perjury, pervert the course of justice, tampering with evidence, threatening witnesses
  • Illicit drug offences: possession, supply, cultivation and manufacture, drug trafficking, use of prohibited drug, importation, possession of precursors for manufacture
  • Firearm and weapon offences: unregistered firearms, unlicensed firearms, use of unlicensed firearms, possessing a prohibited weapon, dangerous use of firearm, firing at dwelling houses or buildings, aggravated possession of unregistered firearm, causing danger with firearm or spear gun, possession or making an explosive, possess in public place non-firearm capable of bodily harm, unauthorised possession of firearm in aggravated circumstances, importation of firearms
  • Public order offences: affray, riot, violent disorder, contamination of goods, start bushfire, leaving or sending an article with intent to cause alarm, disorderly conduct, liquor and tobacco offences
  • Summary offences: malicious damage of property, offensive language, offensive conduct, verbal abuse, disrespectful behaviour, threatening to destroy or damage property, custody of a knife, custody of an offensive implement, damaging or desecrating protected places, graffiti, possess graffiti implement, concealment of birth
  • Fraud offences: obtaining benefit by deception, forgery of documents, dishonest conversion
  • Centrelink fraud
  • Justice procedure offences: breach of violence order, resist or hinder police, breach of bond, suspended sentence, or community service order (CSO)
  • Homicide: murder, attempted murder and manslaughter

Our team of Sydney criminal lawyers are dedicated to defending your rights and ensuring you receive the strongest representation.

We have offices conveniently located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD and Parramatta. Our criminal defence lawyers regularly appear in all NSW courts and we have lawyers available to assist those in police custody or prison.

We are available for urgent bail applications, including weekend and public holiday bail applications.

If you require Legal Aid, we can assist you in your application.

If your case requires a barrister, we can recommend and retain appropriate counsel for you.

There may still be time to have your charges dropped or reduced, so don’t delay.

For a free initial consultation, contact us today on 02 8973 7693. For emergency, after hours contact, please call us on 0404 529 529.


Bail Act

At King & York Lawyers, our criminal defence lawyers have a strong knowledge and clear understanding of bail laws in New South Wales. Our lawyers have an excellent track record at getting bail for their clients.

The Bail Act 2013 (NSW) (as amended) commenced on 28 January 2015. The amended Act makes it harder for serious offenders to get bail.

The Bail Act framework requires knowledge of show cause offences and issues, identification of bail concerns and the matters to be considered in assessing those concerns, understanding conditions that might be imposed to address bail concerns and identifying whether after considering these factors there is still an unacceptable risk if bail is granted. If there is that risk, then bail is refused.


Show cause

In the Second Reading speech to the Bail Amendment Bill 2014 (NSW) the Attorney General and Minister for Justice said:
The key feature of the bill is the increased stringency it applies to bail decisions for those charged with offences that pose significant risks to the community or the administration of justice. It requires people charged with those offences to show cause why their detention is not justified.

Show cause offences include:

  • Offences punishable by life imprisonment
  • Serious personal violence offences if the accused has prior convictions for similar offences

Serious indictable offences relating to:

  • Certain sexual offences
  • Certain firearm offences under the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) or the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW)
  • Certain commercial quantity drug offences under the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW)
  • Certain drug offences under Part 9.1 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code
  • Offences committed whilst on bail, parole or supervision order, and
  • Offences of attempt, assist, aid, abet, conspire, being an accessory to etc.

Bail must be refused unless the accused person can show cause as to why his or her detention is not justified. The Bail Act does not provide any definitions or guidance on what circumstances must be present in order to amount to cause being shown.

Nearly all key bail decisions since the introduction of the show cause requirement illustrate two important principles:

  1. The show cause requirement does not mean that there must be something special or exceptional about the case, and
  2. A combination of factors can amount to cause being shown.

Factors that may be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • The strength of the prosecution case
  • Preventable delays in getting a final hearing
  • Urgent personal situations such as the need for medical treatment.

It is important to bear in mind that there is rarely one lone factor or “smoking gun” which will show cause. It is a combination of factors that are more likely to demonstrate that detention is not justified.

The accused bears the onus of showing cause. In all other cases the prosecution bears the onus. The standard of proof is on the balance of probability. The rules of evidence do not apply although any party can argue that some matters put forward should be given little weight.

Bail applications for show cause offences are a two-step process. Firstly, the accused person must show cause as why detention is not justified. If they are unable to do this, then bail is refused. if they can show cause, then step 2 requires the accused person to show that they are not an unacceptable risk taking into account matters to be considered in assessing bail concerns.

Bail concerns, assessing bail concerns and assessing unacceptable risk all involve consideration of either a serious offence or the serious nature of the offence. In deciding whether the offence is a serious offence (or the seriousness of the offence), the matters to be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • The offence is of a sexual or violent nature
  • It involves the use of an offensive weapon or instrument within the definitions in the Crimes Act 1900
  • The likely effect of the offence on any victim and on the community generally, and
  • The number of offences likely to be committed.

There is a bail concern if the accused person, if released from custody will:

  • Fail to appear in any proceedings for the offence
  • Commit a serious offence
  • Endanger the safety of victims, individuals or the community, or
  • Interfere with witnesses or evidence

In deciding if there is a bail concern, the following matters only can be considered:

  • The accused’s background, including criminal history, circumstances and community ties
  • The nature and seriousness of the offence
  • The strength of the prosecution case
  • Whether the accused has a history of violence
  • Whether the accused has previously committed a serious offence while on bail
  • Whether the accused person has a history of compliance or non-compliance with prior bail or parole conditions, AVOs, good behaviour bonds, intensive correction orders, home detention orders, community service orders etc.
  • Whether the accused has any criminal associations
  • The length of time the accused is likely to spend in custody if bail is refused
  • The likelihood of a custodial sentence being imposed if the accused is convicted of the offence
  • If the accused has been convicted of the offence and an appeal against conviction or sentence are pending, whether the appeal has a reasonably arguable prospect of success
  • Any special vulnerability or needs of the accused including youth, being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or having a cognitive or mental health impairment
  • The need for the accused to be free to prepare for court appearance or to obtain legal advice
  • The need for the accused to be free for any other lawful reason
  • The conduct of the accused towards any victim of the offence, or any family member of a victim after the offence
  • In the case of a serious offence, the views of any victim of the offence or any family member of a victim to the extent relevant to a concern that the accused could, if released from custody, endanger the safety of victims, individuals or the community
  • The bail conditions that could reasonably be imposed to address any bail concern
  • Whether the accused has any associations with a terrorist organisation
  • Whether the accused has made statements or carried out activities advocating support for terrorist acts or violent extremism
  • Whether the accused has any associations or affiliating with any persons or group advocating support for terrorist acts or violent extremism

In determining unacceptable risk, an assessment must first be made of any bail concerns taking into account the matters listed above and likely conditions that could be imposed. Bail must be refused if, after taking those matters into account, that there is still an unacceptable risk that the accused will, if released on bail:

  • Fail to appear at any proceedings for the offence
  • Commit a serious offence
  • Endanger the safety of victims, individuals or the community, or
  • Interfere with witnesses or evidence

Where there is no unacceptable risk the accused must either be granted bail, released without bail or bail be dispensed with.

Bail conditions can only be imposed if they are reasonably necessary to address an identifiable bail concern. They must be reasonable, proportionate to the offence for which bail is granted and be appropriate to the relevant bail concern. They are not to be more onerous than necessary to address the bail concern and they must be reasonably practical to comply with. Finally, bail conditions can only be imposed if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accused will comply with the condition.

Bail authorities can:

  • Impose conduct requirements, such as reporting to police or residing at an address
  • Require security from either the accused, acceptable persons or both
  • Require a character acknowledgment by another person
  • Impose accommodation requirements (but only in the case of the accused being a child or in circumstances authorised by the regulations), and
  • Impose pre-release requirements but such are limited to the lodging of a passport or security or a character acknowledgement.

Courts may impose enforcement conditions (police directions) but such conditions must be reasonably necessary for the purpose of monitoring or enforcing compliance with an underlying bail condition, such as abstaining from using alcohol. Such conditions can only be imposed by a court and only at the request of the prosecutor. It is not unusual for the prosecution to indicate what bail conditions it considers to be appropriate to address bail concerns.

NSW courts can hear bail applications for Commonwealth offences. However, the unacceptable risk test and assessment of bail concerns under the NSW Bail Act do not apply to certain Commonwealth offences.

Once a court hears a bail application, there cannot be a later application in the same court unless there are grounds for a further application. These are that the accused was not previously represented, or there is material information that was not previously presented to the court, or circumstances relevant to the granting of bail have changed, or certain circumstances where the person is a child.

Therefore, an accused person can remain in custody for months, even years, before coming to trial if their bail application is unsuccessful. Even if there is a to be a later guilty plea to the charges, the eventual sentence may not be a custodial one or the sentence imposed may be less than the time already spent in custody.

It is imperative that an accused gets the best possible legal representation from a highly experienced criminal defence lawyer from the start.

For a free initial consultation, contact us today on 02 8973 7693. For emergency, after hours contact, please call us on 0404 529 529.