Strictly speaking, traffic offences are criminal offences. However, unlike the majority of other criminal offences, most traffic offences come under specific legislation; the Road Traffic Act 1961, Motor Vehicles Act 1959, and the Australian Road Rules. Traffic law is very technical and complex, so the proper defence of traffic offences requires detailed knowledge of these specific laws.
A number of traffic offences such as drink driving and speeding differ from regular crimes in that prosecution are able to rely on what are called “statutory aids”, which are basically certificates, the contents of which become proof of certain facts. An example of this occurs with speeding charges, where police can sign a certificate stating that the speed gun was accurate. The Court can then presume that the speed gun is accurate and it is up to the defendant to prove otherwise. This is in effect a reversal of the onus of proof. It is very difficult to do and can be very costly for a defendant to rebut the presumption.
Most people who choose to defend traffic law charges do so to try to keep their licences. While there are options such as pleading guilty and making an application for a reduction of demerit points, often the only way to keep your licence is to plead not guilty and be acquitted of the charges. Most traffic charges are successfully defended on legal technicalities, such as challenging the certificates, or by knowing when prosecution haven’t proved an element of the offence. If you need your licence for your livelihood, then you need a lawyer who knows the technicalities of traffic law.
Karen Stanley knows traffic law. She knows the requirements for valid expiation notices and charges, and knows what defects will render particular charges invalid. She has an in-depth knowledge of the legislation governing traffic offences and knows exactly what prosecution need to prove to secure a conviction. Importantly, she knows when prosecution cannot prove an element of the offence. Karen Stanley understands the intersection between the law and the scientific principles behind the speed guns used by police, and she uses this knowledge to secure outstanding results for her clients.
Karen Stanley successfully challenged the certificate used by prosecution in speeding charges in the 2016 case of Police v Butcher. In that case, the South Australian Supreme Court found that prosecution could not prove that the speed gun was accurate to the extent stated in the certificate. The effect of this was that prosecution could not prove the charges against her client and he was acquitted of the speeding charges. Contrary to the SAPOL media release that the decision was “unusual” and wouldn’t create a legal precedent, Stanley Law secured further acquittals for her clients using the same defence. This culminated in several judgments including Police v Hanton, where the Supreme Court definitively stated that the current speed detection legislation and regime could not prove that speed detection devices were accurate. In November 2018, SAPOL withdrew LIDAR guns from operation, finally acknowledging that police could not prove speeding charges using these devices. The judgment of Police v Hanton continues to affect not only speeding charges, but all charges relying on scientific devices, in the Courts in 2019.
When you instruct Stanley Law to represent you, you will know very early on whether you have a chance of successfully defending traffic charges. If there are no defences available, we will let you know and will advise you of other options available to you, such as structuring a plea which will minimise a licence disqualification, or negotiating with prosecution to have the charge amended to one with a lesser penalty. We help you weigh up the legal costs of defending charges against the financial impact of a licence disqualification. When you choose Stanley Law, you will know the likely outcome before you financially commit. We don’t beat around the bush. We believe that our clients deserve honest and straightforward legal advice. Clients don’t like nasty surprises. Neither do we.
Get the right advice the first time. Click here to contact Stanley Law or call us on 0420 349 737.
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