Mark is a Criminal Lawyer practicing in the Northern Rivers of NSW. The area takes in Coffs Harbour, Woolgoolga, Grafton and Maclean.
Most people find themselves before courts because of many things coming together to result in a breaking of the law. There are some particularly heinous and premeditated crimes, but these are not common in our society. Most of the crimes we see in the area including Coffs Harbour, Woolgoolga, Maclean and Grafton relate to unfortunate circumstances mixed with a bit of poor judgement and has some drug or alcohol use added. There is usually a significant backstory showing social and economic isolation over many years if not generations. It is very important to tell this story to the court. The court wants to know who you are and how you got there. They also want to know what can be done to prevent you from coming back. Here I want to talk about the things that make up your story.
We often start with the basics:
- When and where were you born?
- What did the family unit look like?
- Did mum and dad split when you were very young or at some other time? Perhaps mum and dad are still together
- How many brothers and sisters do you have? Are they alive? Are you close to them?
Going through a process like this the court can build a picture of the setting of your life and might be able to see some challenges you had. We could now look at education:
- When did you start school?
- Where did you go to school?
- Did you finish school? If not, then why?
- What was school like
There are often links between poor education and crime. Getting a job is a lot tougher without an education. Unfortunately, we often see people in the Criminal Law system who cannot read and write. They have fallen through the gaps for one reason or another. Health is also an important factor:
- Have you got any physical or mental illness?
- Are you on medication?
- Has the court ever dealt with you as a mentally ill person? (s32)
It is then important to look at significant events during your life. This might include the death of a loved one or a significant accident. Sometimes these events can lead to isolation, drug and alcohol abuse and crime.
In domestic violence cases there is often aa link between the exposure to domestic violence and the later commission of similar acts. Children brought up in environments where they see and are the victims of domestic violence often commit the same crimes when they grow up. They have effectively been taught to use violence as a tool in their relationships. Often it is the only consistent education they receive. It is not unusual for the victims to have also been exposed to domestic violence. www.anglicare.asn.au/find-a-provider/anglicare-north-coast
These matters are often overlooked in minor criminal law matters. The proper attention to your story can assist the court to guide you towards a better one. Sometimes it is not your fault.