Whether you've committed an offence or not, having any sort of investigation occur against you is a stressful time. That being said, they say that all are innocent until proven guilty – but just how much proof is required to lay charges for a criminal offence?
How much evidence is needed to charge someone with a crime?
It's wrong for a person to be convicted for an offence without thorough reasoning, therefore solid evidence is needed before a decision is reached. To be charged or arrested in Queensland, however, you don't have to be caught red-handed breaking the law. In fact, you can be charged simply with the intent to commit offences, or if there is reason to believe that you were involved in a crime. An arrest can happen before or during an investigation for further evidence. Rights and obligations surrounding evidence are regulated by the Evidence Act 1977 (Qld). The Act lists a number of persons who may testify and provide evidence, as well as the parameters of different types of evidence.
What are the different types of evidence?
Depending on the type of offence committed, there's a multitude of different forms of evidence that may be used in the case against you. These include:
- Testimony, including victim and witness statements.
- Hard evidence, such as DNA or video footage.
- Documents, defined in the Commonwealth Evidence Act as anything on which there is writing, including bank statements, maps and photographs.
In Court, primary evidence is always favoured over secondary. This means direct accounts of those there, or undisputable facts such as time-stamped footage or DNA is always going to hold more weight than evidence that could be deemed as hearsay. Evidence presented in Court must be fair and honest – forging or tampering with evidence results in serious penalties.
If evidence is accepted, it will be presented in Court as admissible evidence used to prove facts, such as backing up eye-witness accounts. Evidence will be considered by the judge, jury, or magistrate as part of making decisions on any charges. This also includes any statements made by the accused during police questioning, although it is generally explained to a jury that they shouldn't draw inferences on such statements without evidence to back it up, as false confessions are sometimes made during police interviews out of intimidation.
Furthermore, an accused person themselves can present evidence as to prove their innocence in a trial, such as alibis as to why they weren't at the scene of the offence. This is where an expert lawyer is essential, as they help gather and prepare your statements to build a case for your defense, knowing exactly what to include and what to omit from proceedings.
What can I do if I have been charged?
A charge is a formal accusation that a person has committed an offence and as with arrests, doesn't need to be backed up with evidence at the time. Charges in Queensland take shape in three different forms, including a notice to appear in Court, a complaint and summons, or an arrest. On receiving any of these, it's vital to follow the instructions, such as adhering to bail conditions or appearing in Court on a certain date. Failing to do so may result in further penalties. In any case, reaching out to expert legal professionals in these instances is your best bet in reaching a favourable outcome for your case.
Having your lawyer handy at the earliest convenience gives them extra time to prep and prime your case, gathering all the information they need to craft an airtight defence, or assist in negotiating a lesser penalty. No matter the offence, the team at Russo Lawyers are here to help.
Our reputation as Brisbane's leading criminal law firm is a credit to our history of successful appearances in all Queensland Courts, including the Supreme and Children's Court – with over 30 years' of practice under our belt, we know our way around the world of such proceedings. We understand the complexities and stresses of the legal process and are committed to guiding our clients through the journey with professionalism and friendliness, every step of the way. For more information on what our experts can do for your case, get in touch with our team through a free phone consultation.