In Australia, anyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. So even if you have charges laid against you, no matter what for, it will always be up to the prosecution to lay down their proof and convince the judge or jury that you or the defendant is guilty. This presumption of innocence is an important part of the way our democracy works, and it’s there to protect citizens when being faced with the law.
Even so, depending on the charges and circumstances, defending your innocence can be tough, and often a complex process. Knowing the basics is crucial and can help anyone in a position of defending their innocence better understand what this process looks like.
Do innocent people need lawyers?
If you’re defending your innocence in court, it always helps to have a lawyer representing you on your behalf. No matter the circumstances, qualified lawyers are always better placed to represent their clients for several reasons.
Here’s why lawyers are a safe bet when it comes to defending your innocence:
- Experience matters. Law is no laughing matter, and at the best of times, it can be very complicated. Whatever the circumstances, a lawyer will know their way around a court, understand the etiquette, and the legal processes that pertain to your case. Having an experienced hand when dealing with the law is always a good thing.
- Lawyers understand the procedures. Seems simple, but filing the wrong document or missing a deadline can have huge repercussions for your case. Lawyers not only understand the nitty-gritty of the processes, but they will also work with you to ensure the best possible outcome.
- Lawyers are connected. Lawyers know who to contact and when. Whether it’s consulting an expert opinion about specifics of your case or talking to key witnesses, lawyers can do this on your behalf.
- Lawyers uphold the highest levels of professionalism. Defending your innocence can be an emotional experience. Being accused in a court of law is a tumultuous time for anyone, and while it’s a natural emotion, it may not translate into a better outcome if you go it alone. Lawyers will remain laser-focused on your case and will better represent your interests without being emotionally involved.
Do charges stay on your record if proven innocent?
A criminal trial can be a confusing and often difficult experience for anyone involved. Knowing you have a clean record is very important for a number of reasons. Applying for certain jobs and positions will rely on a clean record.
Essentially if you charged but are found to be innocent, this will not show up on your record. It will be as if the charge never existed. Even if you’re found guilty, the magistrate may choose not to include the charge on your record, but this depends on the circumstance.
Do defendants get their money back if innocent?
There is no doubt that criminal trials and proceedings are both expensive and time-consuming. If proven innocent there are ways to get reimbursed from the prosecution.
Here are the two main ways this can be done:
- Claim costs under the Criminal Procedures Act. Under this Act, if you can prove that the investigation into the alleged charges was made either in an unreasonable manner or initiated without any reasonable cause, or handled improperly by the prosecutor or in bad faith. Furthermore, if it can be proven that the prosecution failed to properly investigate any matters that may have proven the innocence of the defendant. By proving the above, or any other exceptional circumstances, you may be eligible for costs to be reimbursed.
- Claim costs under the Criminal Cases Act. If the prosecution has been found to have been in possession of comprehensive evidence prior to the beginning of proceedings that would’ve deemed the proceedings unreasonable, or intentionally left out any evidence of this kind, there would be a strong basis for costs to be awarded to the defendant.
Who determines guilt or innocence in a criminal trial?
In Western Australia, the magistrate decides on the guilt or innocence of the defendant. In the district court and higher, Juries are used to determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant. Trial by jury is often awarded to people with more serious charges laid against them. Juries are used to determine the outcome of the trial as a way of upholding community standards. Trial by jury is a way of being judged by your peers.
How to improve your chances of an innocent verdict
With a host of experienced legal professionals and criminal lawyers, Perth has a wide range of firms that specialise in specific areas of law and can work with you to achieve the best possible result. Proving your innocence is both easier and less stressful when you’ve got a lawyer at your side. Choosing experienced criminal lawyers in Perth will increase your chances and be your best shot at maintaining a clean record.