Community Corrections Order for Catching Too Much Abalone

AbaloneThis is a case study on a sentence of Community Corrections Order for Catching Too Much Abalone.

Our client was caught illegally fishing for abalone with two cousins at the Mornington Peninsula. He was caught with approximately 120 abalone. He was approached by Fisheries personnel while he was in the water diving for the shellfish and his cousins and the catch were nearby on rocks.

The client moved to Australia several years ago. In New Zealand, his home country, there are different rules about what individuals are allowed to catch with respect to shellfish such as abalone, particularly if the individual is Maori. He and his family wanted to have a traditional cook up at home with family to try and bring their family together as they were all going through a rough time. He and his cousins were intending to cook the abalone at home with extended family.

The issue for our client is that he and his cousins did not have a licence and the vast majority of the abalone were undersized. Our client had also been to court about four years ago for the same offence. On that occasion, he was sentenced to a large fine. It was the only matter on his criminal history.

The rules in Australia about fishing for abalone are very strict because they are one of very few protected species of shellfish in Australia. There are also serious concerns about the commercial sale of abalone on the ‘black market’ where abalone can be sold for a lot of money.

Sophie Parsons provided legal representation for the client at the Frankston Magistrates’ Court on the charge of Catching Too Much Abalone.

Although this case ultimately resulted in a Community Corrections Order for Catching Too Much Abalone, imprisonment was a highly possible penalty as the law in relation to abalone fishing is very tough. Our client was concerned about the possibility of a prison sentence because he had committed the offence before, the size of the catch was large, and the majority of the abalone were undersized. The prosecutors from the Agriculture and Resources Group with the Victorian Government take these matters very seriously.

The client was employed full time as a youth worker and cared for many younger siblings. If he went to jail, he would likely lose his job and leave younger family members without care at home. Sophie worked with the client in the lead up to his court date to gather material designed to get the best possible outcome. The client benefited from her guidance in the preparation of a number of documents.

A letter of apology was written explaining the background and motivation to the offending. The client also gathered a number of character references and Sophie reviewed all the documents and provided feedback in the lead up to the court date so that the final documents were in the best possible form. Sophie also took the time to research and understand the way that abalone and other shellfish are regulated in New Zealand so that she could present the client’s cultural background and context in the most favourable way, while also clearly distinguishing the client’s offending from the more serious form of this offence which would involve the illegal commercial sale of abalone.

On the day of the plea, the client was convicted and sentenced to a Community Corrections Order for Catching Too Much Abalone. He was required to complete community work instead of going to prison. He was very relieved and happy with this outcome. The Magistrate complimented him on the worthwhile work he does as a youth worker and his obvious remorse details in the letter of apology and character references. The client also received a prohibition order that prevents him from fishing for abalone, even with a licence, for a period of 5 years.


Sophie ParsonsSophie Parsons

Sophie is based in the firm's Melbourne office and is one of the firm's in-house counsel and trial specialists. As a trial lawyer, Sophie's expertise lies in examining witnesses, making legal submissions before judges and magistrates, and addressing juries.

Sophie is an advocate who regularly appears at the Magistrates' and County Courts of Victoria. She handles appeals, contested committal hearings, bail applications, as well as pleas of guilty.

Check out Sophie's profile to know more about the depth of her experience in the field of law.

DISCLAIMER: This is a real case study of an actual case from our files. Details pertaining to the client have been changed to protect their privacy. The sentence imposed and the charge have not been altered. These case studies are published to demonstrate real outcomes and give an indication of possible tariffs in Court. We do not guarantee a similar case on these charges will get the same result. Please note that we post results at our discretion, therefore while many case studies are average results, others are notable for their exceptional outcomes. PUBLISHED 23/08/2018