Criminal Law

Need to speak to a criminal or traffic lawyer in South Australia? Call 0448 288 537 to arrange your FREE no-obligation interview. Fixed fee and payment arrangements available. Please note that Dewar Legal does not accept instructions in matters funded by Legal Aid.


Dewar Legal - Adelaide Criminal Lawyers

If you are under investigation or have been charged with a criminal offence in South Australia, you should immediately seek advice and representation from a criminal lawyer. Dewar Legal practices in all areas of criminal, traffic and disciplinary law. We appear in all criminal courts in South Australia. We would be very happy to assist.

Why is it so important to consult an expert criminal lawyer?

Retaining a criminal lawyer at the earliest possible stage will maximise your chances of successfully defending a criminal charge.

Testimonial: At an incredibly difficult time in my life, Mr Dewar was there to assist me in putting things back together. I don’t know what I would have done without his calm reassurance and his clear explanations of what was happening and what I needed to do. He was there to help me every step of the way. When you need legal help it can be very overwhelming. Mr Dewar was able to help me to resolve the issue and move forward with my life. I am extremely grateful to him and would go to him if any other legal issues arose in my life. Read More

A criminal lawyer can provide you with advice about how to deal with the police and can help you with the gathering of evidence for use in your defence (including forensic and other expert evidence). Most importantly, a criminal lawyer can represent your interests in court.

Case Study: Our client was charged with rape. Due to early and proactive engagement with the investigating police officers, we were able to secure forensic evidence that was vital to his defence.

A criminal lawyer will be able to identify (and exploit) weaknesses in a prosecution case that may not be apparent to you.

Case Study: Our client appeared in the Magistrates Court of South Australia charged with serious criminal trespass in a place of residence and theft. A DNA sample found at the scene matched our client. We identified deficiencies in the DNA evidence that left the prosecution with no option but to completely drop the charge as there was no other evidence against our client.

A criminal lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution on your behalf. This is sometimes referred to as "plea bargaining". It is often possible, for example, to have some charges dropped in exchange for pleading guilty to others. Sometimes it is possible to have charges withdrawn and replaced with less serious charges. An experienced criminal lawyer should conduct negotiations on your behalf.

Case Study: Our client was charged with trafficking in cannabis and was facing a prison sentence if convicted. The police thought he was a drug dealer because, in addition to a very large amount of cannabis, he was in possession of electronic scales which are sometimes used by drug dealers. Plea bargaining resulted in the charge being reduced to a “personal use” offence. He received a modest fine.

Testimonial: Many thanks in assisting my son in getting through this issue. This was an extremely stressful time for him and his partner; your advice and legal work certainly took away much of the confusion and worry. Read More

Case Study: Our clients – husband and wife – were charged with shoplifting. They said they had simply forgotten to scan certain items at the “self checkout” of their local supermarket. Following negotiations with the prosecution the charges against both of them were dropped.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to plead guilty to a charge. Lawyers are not just for people pleading "not guilty". If you are pleading guilty to a criminal charge, it is important to have an expert criminal lawyer to represent your interests in the sentencing process. It is very important that the sentencing judge or magistrate hears your side of the story and makes their decision in full possession of all the relevant facts, including any mitigating circumstances. This is the case even for road traffic offences such as drink driving. A criminal lawyer will also be able to assist you to obtain all necessary material to assist in the sentencing process, such as properly drafted character references and expert reports.

Case Study: Our client was charged with driving while disqualified. It was his third offence and he had already had a suspended prison sentence for one of his earlier offences. Most people in this situation would face an immediate unsuspended prison sentence. We prepared and delivered careful sentencing submissions setting out various mitigating circumstances. Against the odds, our client received a suspended sentence.

Case Study: Our client was charged with serious child pornography offences. He immediately acknowledged his guilt. We were able to refer him to the correct facilities for treatment and to the right expert forensic psychologists for assessment and the preparation of expert reports to assist the court in the sentencing process, thus maximising his chances of the best possible outcome.

Dewar Legal - Adelaide Criminal Lawyers
Case Study: Our client came to us charged with two counts of rape of a child. Following extensive negotiations with prosecuting lawyers, these charges were reduced to far less serious charges. Unfortunately, while this was happening, police continued investigating our client and he was charged with many further offences relating to multiple victims. Following further negotiations, some of these charges were dropped and a very favourable factual basis was negotiated in relation to others. Ultimately, our client pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, two counts of communicating with the intention of making a child amenable to sexual activity, two counts of possessing child pornography, two aggravated counts of possessing child pornography, one count of failing to comply with a bail agreement, and one count of failing to comply with a paedophile restraining order. Despite this extraordinary number of extremely serious offences, our client received only a suspended sentence and good behaviour bond. This was due to the extensive work (over almost two years) that we put into the matter including negotiations with prosecution, over a dozen court hearings, and the careful preparation of his guilty pleas including sending our client to several experts for the preparation of psychiatric and psychological reports.

An experienced criminal lawyer will also be able to identify any possible alternate routes for dealing with a criminal matter, such as the various court intervention programs operated by the Magistrates Court (the Diversion Program, the Drug Court, the Treatment Intervention Program and the Abuse Prevention Program). A criminal lawyer will also be able to assess the appropriateness of that approach.

Case Study: Our client was charged with various offences including assault and resisting arrest. He had a serious mental illness which contributed to his conduct on the relevant occasions. We succesfully requested that our client be referred to the Magistrates Court Diversion Program. The program gave him the opportunity to address his mental health needs and offending behaviours.

Case Study: Our client was charged with multiple counts of assault, disorderly behaviour and resisting police arising from several different incidents during which he was in the manic phase of his bipolar disorder. After initial investigations relating to his mental state and suitability for the Treatment Intervention Program, he decided to plead guilty and was placed on a good behaviour bond. Several other charges were dropped following negotiations with the prosecution.

Our principal, Tom Dewar, has represented people charged with everything from minor traffic offences through to the most serious offences known to the criminal law (such as murder and rape). He regularly represents clients in South Australia's criminal courts, including as trial counsel. He is a member of the Legal Services Commission's Complex Criminal Law Panel.

Testimonial: Thomas Dewar was a consummate professional in assisting with, and handling my recent legal matters. His expert knowledge, advice, and constant communication throughout proceedings, gave me confidence that my issues would be handled in the best possible manner. Read More

In particularly serious matters which warrant a specialist criminal barrister, we are able to reccomend and retain an appropriate expert including the most senior criminal barristers (such as Queens Counsel and Senior Counsel) to properly represent your interests.

We can assist you with all areas of criminal law, including:

  • Offences Against the Person (eg murder, manslaughter, causing harm or death by dangerous driving, assault, unlawful threats, stalking)
  • Dishonesty Offences (eg theft, robbery, unlawful possession, deception, dishonestly dealing with documents)
  • Property Offences (eg trespass, serious criminal trespass, arson, property damage)
  • Offences Against Public Order (eg disorderly behaviour, offensive language, resist police)
  • Traffic Offences (eg drink/drug driving, failing to provide a sample of breath, driving disqualified, driving uninsured and unregistered, dangerous driving, driving without due care, speeding, misuse of a motor vehicle)
  • Sexual Offences (eg rape, indecent assault, indecent behaviour, gross indecency, indecent filming, persistent sexual exploitation of a child, child pornography offences)
  • Drug Offences (eg possession, manufacture/cultivation, trafficking, possession of prescribed equipment, prescription drug offences)

When deciding whether or not you need representation in relation to your criminal law matter, remember that, in addition to the penalties you may face if found guilty (such as prison, fines, community service and the like), the impact of a criminal conviction on your life can be significant - even ruinous. Depending on the type of offence, consequences can include:

  • Damage to your reputation;
  • Damage to your ability to obtain and hold employment;
  • Ineligibility to obtain licenses, permits etc meaning you may be unable to work in your chosen field;
  • Ineligibility to own or use firearms;
  • Civil claims for damages;
  • Limitations on international travel;
  • Loss of the right to vote;
  • Ineligibility to perform volunteer work;
  • Deportation if you are a non-citizen;
  • Being subject to restraining orders;
  • Being required to sign the child sex offenders register; and
  • Family law implications (particularly regarding the custody of children).

Dewar Legal Blog - Criminal Law Posts:
- Can You Smack Your Child in South Australia? Dewar Legal Acts in Succesful Supreme Court Appeal
- Negotiations in Criminal Matters in South Australia
- Criminal Justice Reform in South Australia
- What is the Age of Consent in South Australia?
- Cyber Bullying and Sexting in South Australia
- When Can the Police take your DNA in South Australia?
- Intervention Orders in South Australia
- Internet Sexual Offending in South Australia
- Licence Disqualification: Can You Keep Your Licence for Work Only in South Australia?
- Dewar Legal Lawyer Succesfully Argues Supreme Court Appeal
- Changes to the Criminal Courts of South Australia
- How Many Cannabis Plants can you Grow in South Australia?
- Should You Speak to the Police in South Australia?
- General Search Warrants in South Australia

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dealing with the police

Dewar Legal - Adelaide Criminal Lawyers
When dealing with the police in South Australia, it is important to tread delicately and take expert advice before doing anything. Often the decisions you make in the early stages of a criminal matter will have a significant impact on the ultimate outcome.

You should treat the police politely and respectfully, even if you think they do not deserve such treatment. You may cause further difficulty for yourself if you behave poorly.

It is important to remember that, generally, police have the same powers to speak to and question people as anyone else in our society. You have a fundamental right to remain silent (subject to some important exceptions such as giving your personal details) and we strongly recommend that you exercise that right, at least until after you have spoken to a criminal lawyer and discussed the pros and cons of speaking to the police. A great many people have landed themselves in serious difficulty by speaking to the police. Very few people have damaged themselves by remaining silent. Time and time again we see people who get themselves in hot water only because they have spoken to the police.

You may think that you have nothing to hide and that no harm can be done by speaking to the police. If you are under investigation we suggest you resist the temptation to speak openly - often there are consequences that cannot be foreseen at the time. It may be that speaking to the police is sensible, but only after you take expert advice.

You can read more about the vital importance of remaining silent in a post on our blog - "Should You Speak to the Police in South Australia?".

There are some circumstances in which you do need to answer limited questions put to you by police, such as providing your name and address, the details of the driver of vehicles and things of that sort. You can face a criminal charge if you fail to answer certain basic questions of this sort. Seek legal advice if you have any doubts.

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In South Australia, you can be charged with a criminal offence without actually being arrested - you will receive a summons. However, if you have been arrested, you will need to apply for bail in order to be released. In order to obtain bail, you need to enter into a Bail Agreement. You are released from custody on your promise to attend Court at a particular time and date, and to comply with other conditions which may be imposed.

Often the police will not want to keep you in custody and you will be granted "police bail" as a matter of course. If the police decline to grant you police bail, you will need to apply to the Court for release on bail. You should seek advice from a criminal lawyer before applying for Court bail. A criminal lawyer will be able to advise you about things you can do in order to maximise your chances of release on bail. A lawyer can also speak on your behalf during the bail application hearing. If you have been denied police bail, we strongly recommend that you have proper representation when applying for bail or applying to vary your bail conditions.

We would be happy to assist you in this regard.

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Intervention Orders

What Are Intervention Orders?

Dewar Legal - Adelaide Criminal Lawyers
An intervention order is perhaps more commonly known as a restraining order. They are designed to prevent a person from behaving in a certain way towards another person or group of people.

An intervention order may be made if to conditions are satisfied. First, there must be reasonable grounds to suspect that, if the order is not made, the defendant will commit an act of abuse against another person (the protected person). Second, it must be appropriate to make the order in all the circumstances.

The legislation defines the word "abuse" to include an act which results in:

  • Physical injury;
  • Emotional or psychological harm;
  • An unreasonable and non-consensual denial of financial, social or personal autonomy; or
  • Damage to property in the ownership or possession of a person or used or otherwise enjoyed by a person.

Intervention orders can (amongst other things):

  • Prevent the defendant from approaching the protected person;
  • Prevent the defendant from contacting the protected person;
  • Prevent the defendant from harassing, threatening or intimidating the protected person;
  • Forcing the defendant to undergo a counselling program; and
  • Requiring the defendant to surrender any firearms they own, and suspending their firearms licence.

It is a criminal offence to breach an intervention order. Breaching an order can lead to a prison sentence in some circumstances.

It is an extraordinarily and alarmingly easy thing to take out an intervention order against someone. But if you have been served with an intervention order, that is not the end of the story.

What Can Be Done?

If you have been served with an intervention order, it is likely an "interim" order. This means that a temporary order has been made but the Court has not yet decided whether it should remain in place. You can challenge the order in Court (although you will still be bound by the interim order while the Court decides). If you wish to challenge the order, it will not become a "final" order until the Court has heard all the evidence. The interim order is made based on only the protected person's side of the story.

It is sometimes possible to negotiate an outcome with the applicant (usually the police, who will effectively represent the protected person in the proceedings). For example, it might be possible to negotiate an amendment to the order that everyone can live with.

You should seek professional legal representation if you have been served with an intervention order. A lawyer will be able to help you respond in the appropriate way.

Dewar Legal - Adelaide Criminal Lawyers
It is extremely important to seek urgent advice if an ntervention order has been taken out by a former partner with whom you have children. Intervention orders are often the first sign that famil law proceedings are forthcoming. We are able to represent you in both intervention order proceedings and associated family law proceedings. We have significant experience in such matters. For example, our principal has acted as successful appeallate counsel in a Supreme Court appeal relating to the interaction between intervention orders and family law proceedings - T, R v L, KC [2013] SASC 51. Click here to learn more about family law matters.

We are able to assist you with this area of law and invite you to contact us on (08) 8311 3964 if you need our help. You can also use our online booking system to instantly book the next available interview. Just click on the red "Book Now" button and follow the prompts to select your interview time.

Dewar Legal Blog - Intervention Order Posts
- Intervention Orders in South Australia
- Dewar Legal Lawyer Succesfully Argues Supreme Court Appeal

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