Criminal Damage and Unlawful Assault

The client was a 24 year old who had a history of being physically and emotionally abused by his mother and step-father. He was subjected to drug use and heavy alcohol at an early age by his mother, and his step-father was physically violent. This resulted in an extremely disrupted early education, as well as periods of homelessness where the accused would either live on the streets or would stay on friends’ couches.

What is alleged to have occured?
The client and his mother shared a volatile relationship that frequently included threats and assaults. The client’s mother had previously obtained intervention orders against the client, who had developed an addiction to cannabis and later to heroin.

The client was charged with a number of charges of assault and criminal damage against his mother, one set of charges included serious charges whereby he stole his mother’s car and drove dangerously, striking a pedestrian with the vehicle and causing the pedestrian injury.

He pleaded guilty to the charges. At the time of pleading guilty he had estranged from his mother, and was no longer seeing her. He had secured stable accommodation through St Vincent de Paul, and was receiving voluntary drug and alcohol counselling and psychological counselling. He was engaged in negotiations with his ex-partner in relation to contact with his young son. He was no longer using drugs or consuming alcohol to excess.

What happened at court?
We represented the client at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

The Magistrate heard evidence from his St Vincent de Paul worker, who stated that the client had turned his life around and that he would continue to receive supports in the community. The Magistrate agreed that he had had a difficult upbringing, but that he was making progress in terms of his rehabilitation.

What was the result?
The Magistrate considered the driving charges to be particularly serious, and placed the client on a wholly suspended sentence. In relation to the assault and criminal damage charges, the Magistrate recognised that the client was making progress in his rehabilitation and afforded him an opportunity to continue that in the community, placing him on a Community Based Order (CBO) to ensure that he continued to receive support.

From a letter of thanks written by the accused’s Outreach Support Worker at Vincent Care Victoria:

“Just wanted to send an email to thank you both for all your hard work with (the accused’s) legal matters.

Thanks for agreeing to take on the case and sorting out transferring the legal aid funding and all the consults you did with (the accused).

Thanks for your fantastic work in court.

I really appreciate your efforts, and it certainly made my job a bit easier.

Look forward to working with you both again.”
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 25/02/2013