With the media and government’s increased focus on dismantling criminal and bikie gangs, there has been a rise in the number of people prosecuted under ‘consorting’ laws.
Consorting essentially refers to situations where persons deemed to be criminals repeatedly associate with each other.
Consorting laws aim to enable police to disrupt the activities of criminal gangs by preventing members from associating with each other, however police have been seen to press consorting charges in the absence of any factual basis or evidence.
Our highly qualified criminal law specialists have considerable experience fighting and winning consorting cases and have the knowledge and insight necessary to effectively fight the charges and protect your innocence.
Your Options in Court
If you believe that you have been unfairly charged with a consorting offence, our experienced advocates can give you the representation you need to fight the charges and secure a positive outcome in your case.
To be found guilty of a consorting offence, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- “Habitually consorted” with a convicted offender(s) and
- That you did so after being given an “official warning” in relation to each of those convicted offenders.
If the prosecution is unable to prove both of these factors beyond a reasonable doubt, you will be found “not guilty.”
If you wish to plead not guilty, our expert defence team will fight hard to protect your innocence.
Unlike other law firms who may urge you to fight the charges in court, our experts always seek to have the charges dropped at an early stage by writing to police and highlighting any deficiencies in their case.
However, should the prosecution refuse to drop the charges, our outstanding advocates will work hard to raise all possible defences to ensure that you get the best possible outcome in your case.
Commonly raised defences for consorting offences include:
- Where you had a lawful purpose for associating with the convicted offender(s) – for more information see the ‘what does the law say about consorting’ section below;
- Where you were coerced or threatened into consorting with the convicted offender (duress)
- Where you consorted with the convicted offender to prevent serious injury or death (necessity)
In some cases, you may simply wish to accept the charges against you and plead guilty.
This may be beneficial as it will show the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions.
In most cases, the court will impose a more lenient penalty for an early guilty plea – in other words, the magistrate or judge will give you a “discount” on your sentence.
You will also avoid the time and expense associated with fighting the matter in court.
However, before pleading guilty, you should always speak to a reputable and experienced criminal defence lawyer who can advise whether there is any way to fight the charges in court.
Our lawyers have a wealth of knowledge and experience in this area and would be happy to advise you on the best course of action in your case.
It is also important to be aware of the maximum penalties that may apply in your case.
For consorting, the maximum penalty is 3 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $16,500.
However, our highly skilled advocates will push for the matter to be heard in the Local Court, where the maximum penalties are much lower.
Our knowledgeable senior lawyers will prepare effective sentencing submissions to highlight any positive factors that may reduce the seriousness of your actions.
We will push to have the matter dealt with by way of an alternative and less onerous penalty.
The types of penalties that can be imposed by the court include:
- Section 10 Dismissal
- Conditional Release Order
- Community Correction Order
- Intensive Correction Order
The hard work and dedication of our specialist defence team enables us to consistently obtain outstanding results for our clients in these types of cases.
Often, it is beneficial to be informed about what the law says about consorting.
By familiarising yourself with the law, you can better understand the best steps to take when it comes to fighting the charges in court.
We have compiled some additional information below that may assist if you have been charged with a consorting offence.
What does “habitually consort” mean?
”Habitually consort” means that you associate with at least 2 convicted offenders, and that you consort with each offender on at least 2 separate occasions.
What is an “official warning”?
An “official warning” means a warning by police that a person is a convicted offender, and that consorting or associating with a convicted offender is an offence. Warnings may be either written or verbal.
What is a “convicted offender”?
A “convicted offender” is someone who has been found guilty of a criminal offence.
What is a “lawful excuse” for consorting?
Under s 93Y of the Crimes Act, there is a list of situations in which you cannot be found guilty of consorting. These are:
- Where the convicted offender(s) is a family member;
- Where you consorted with the convicted offender(s) in the course of lawful employment or operations of a business;
- Where you consorted with the convicted offender(s) in the course of education or training;
- Where you consorted with the convicted offender(s) in the course of the provision of a health service;
- Where you consorted with the convicted offender(s) in the course of providing legal advice;
- Where you consorted with the convicted offender(s) while they were in custody, or in the course of complying with a court order.
Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with.
Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:
- Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results
Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases. Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial. Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.
Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.
- Highest Level of Client SatisfactionWe have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia. Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities. We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.
- Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law FirmWe have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running. The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.
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Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.
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- All NSW CourtsFrom Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases. And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.
- Accredited SpecialistsOur entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists. All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005. An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field. Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.
- Results-Focused Law FirmOur team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet. The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’. Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.
The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.
- Team of Lawyers Behind YouOur clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide. Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes. A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.
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