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The Crime and Corruption Commission possess special powers of investigation which require people to attend upon them in secret to answer questions. If a person summonsed discloses their attendance at the proceeding or refuses to co-operate and answer questions, serious penalties (including imprisonment) apply.
These proceedings are colloquially referred to as 'star chambers'.
Traditional legal principles such a privilege against self incrimination (the right to remain silent) do not apply.
If summonsed it is imperative a person seeks immediate legal advice. Gnech & Associates are leading experts in this field of law.
Gnech & Associates are the leading experts in the representation of public officials in corruption investigations and proceedings. We represent clients in this area on an almost daily basis.
All the criminal charges of a corrupt nature expose a person to the real potential of imprisonment and in some instances the loss of superannuation entitlements.
Criminal Code Offences
Section 87 - Official Corruption - is an offence classified as a crime with a general maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment which increases to 14 years imprisonment if the person holds office as a minister.
Section 92 - Abuse of Process - is an offence classified as a misdemeanour which carries with it a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.
Section 92A - Misconduct in Public Office - is an offence classified as a crime which carries with it a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment. Since this offence was introduced in Queensland in 2009 Gnech & Associates have represented in excess of 50 clients for this offence without any client being convicted.
Section 120 - Judicial Corruption - is an offence classified as a crime which carries with it a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
Section 121 - Official Corruption (not judicial) - is an offence classified as a crime which carries with it a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
Public Officers Superannuation Benefits Recovery Act 1988
If a person is convicted of an offence pursuant to section 87, 120, 121 or an indictable offence where the person receives or attempts to receive any property or benefit personally or for another, and the person will be influenced or affected in the exercise of the functions or powers of a public office the crown can make application to the Supreme Court for repayment of a sum, considered by the judge to be just and equitable, of the person's publicly funded superannuation entitlements.
Murder is the most serious offence in Queensland law carrying with it a mandatory term of life imprisonment upon conviction. Murder requires a deliberate intention to kill another person for a conviction to be successful. Depending on the circumstances a person may be eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 20 years in prison. The person would remain on parole for the remainder of his/her life and be at jeopardy of an immediate return to prison in the event that any parole conditions are breached.
Manslaughter occurs where someone has caused the death of another without a deliberate intent to kill. The most regular example of a manslaughter offence is where persons engage in a consensual physical fight or a person intends to assault another person without an intent to kill, however the event results in the death of a person. Manslaughter carries with it a maximum penalty of life imprisonment but it is not mandatory. This means a court is not restricted in what penalties it can order against a person who has been convicted of manslaughter. There have been occasions when a court has sentenced a person to a period of imprisonment that is not a life sentence after being convicted of manslaughter.
Robbery is an offence which carries with it a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment. Robbery is stealing coupled with an act of violence against an individual during the course of the stealing.
Assault in Queensland has a specific definition in Queensland law which is contained in section 245 Criminal Code. This provision defines assault as:
(1) A person who strikes, touches, or moves, or otherwise applies force of any kind to, the person of another, either directly or indirectly, without the other person’s consent, or with the other person’s consent if the consent is obtained by fraud, or who by any bodily act or gesture attempts or threatens to apply force of any kind to the person of another without the other person’s consent, under such circumstances that the person making the attempt or threat has actually or apparently a present ability to effect the person’s purpose, is said to assault that other person, and the act is called an
(2) In this section—
"applies force" includes the case of applying heat, light, electrical force, gas, odour, or any other substance or thing whatever if applied in such a degree as to cause injury or personal discomfort.
There are a number of different assault offences contained within the criminal law in Queensland depending on the circumstances, the injuries suffered by the victim and who the victim is.
Common Assault does not require any injury to be suffered by the victim and can be on ‘technique grounds’ such as blowing cigarette smoke in the face of another, through to a physical blow which did not cause pain or discomfort.
Common Assault carries with it a maximum penalty of 3 years.
Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm
As the offence name suggests this is an assault where an injury of bodily harm has been suffered by the victim. Bodily harm can include as little as discomfort being caused, to bruising, to a broken bone. This offence carries with it a maximum sentence of 7 years.
Grievous Bodily Harm
This offence carries with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. There is no element of assault necessary to prove this offence and is therefore broader in its application. It only requires that a person does an act which causes another person grievous bodily harm. Grievous bodily harm is defined in section 1 of the Criminal Code as:
(a) the loss of a distinct part or an organ of the body; or
(b) serious disfigurement; or
(c) any bodily injury of such a nature that, if left untreated, would endanger or be likely to endanger life, or cause or be likely to cause permanent injury to health;
whether or not treatment is or could have been available.
Unlawful wounding is an offence that requires proof that a person did an act which caused a person’s skin to be punctured. Examples of this are syringe or knife attacks. This offence carries with it a maximum penalty of 7 years.
The serious assault of another refers to an assault of any type against an individual who is a public official such as a police officer or a person over the age of 60 years. An assault in these circumstances is treated more serious then it normally would and carries with it an increased maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment.
In Queensland, general sentencing laws confirm that a sentence of imprisonment must be of last resort. Of some significance, when it comes to sentencing for an offence of violence, that sentencing principle is displaced and a court is not so restrained when considering what sentence to give.
A court also has the ability to order compensation be paid to the victim for ‘pain and suffering’, as well as any out of pocket medical costs and/or loss of wages as a result of the injury suffered.
Fraud is a very broad offence which is capable of capturing a significant range of different offending behaviours. This offence requires proof of an act by a person which was committed dishonestly to gain a benefit or to cause a detriment to another. Some examples of fraudulent conduct include but is not limited to:
• passing fake bank cheques;
• submitting false time sheets at work;
• even taking a ‘sickie’ at work;
• scams such as fake charities;
• conversion of another’s property dishonestly.
The offence of fraud carries with it varying maximum penalties depending on the circumstances ranging from 5 years imprisonment to 20 years imprisonment.
Trafficking in Dangerous Drugs
Trafficking in dangerous drugs is one of the most serious offences in Queensland law outside of murder. Depending on the scale of the business and the type of drug being trafficked it carries with it a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.
Trafficking is defined as the unlawful carrying on of a business. That can mean a small unsuccessful business as well as a multi-million dollar enterprise. What this means is a person is liable for an offence of trafficking for selling drugs on a regular basis to support his or her own habit – this would be a small and somewhat unsuccessful business but still a serious criminal offence.
Supplying Dangerous Drugs
Supplying dangerous drugs, depending on the type of drug and who the drug is supplied to carries with it a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment. If the drug is supplied to a minor or a person inside a correction facility the penalty is increased from what it otherwise would be.
Supplying a drug to another can include the ‘sharing’ of a cannabis joint amongst friends. Supply does not require the drug to be ‘sold’ and can include simply sharing, passing or giving to another.
Possession of Dangerous Drugs
Depending on the amount and type of drug, an offence of this nature carries with it a maximum penalty of up to 25 years imprisonment. Possession generally means proving that a person had ‘knowledge and control’ of the drug.
In certain circumstances the law deems the person in control of the premises or vehicle in possession of the drug unless it can be proven otherwise.
It is also an offence to be in possession of any property used in connection with a drug offence. This can include, but is not limited to drug utensils, drug money and scales used to weigh drugs for the purpose of supply.
It is also an offence for to improperly dispose of syringes which have been used in connection with dangerous drugs.
It has been debated for some years now if the drug epidemic is a legal issue or a social issue. For this reason, over the last 20 years there has been a steady introduction of a more therapeutic approach to, at least minor drug offending. Most offences involving minor drug possession and possession of drug property can be diverted away from the criminal justice system via drug diversion programs. This means participation in drug information sessions replace criminal convictions and penalties before the court. Usually a person is only offered this opportunity twice before matters have to be dealt with before the courts resulting in convictions and sentences being imposed.
Dangerous driving or dangerous operation of a motor vehicle is a criminal offence and has very serious consequences. This is an offence that anyone could find themselves facing before the court. It is the most serious traffic offence in Queensland. This offence is unusual in that it is an incredibly serious charge that does not require ‘intention’ to be proven for a conviction.
The maximum penalty for dangerous driving is 3 years imprisonment. Common penalties are fines of thousands of dollars and lengthy disqualifications from holding a drivers licence. The mandatory minimum period for a driver’s license to be disqualified upon being convicted for dangerous operation is 6 months. There are aggravating circumstances of being intoxicated, excessive speeding and a previous offence of a like nature which increase the maximum penalty to 5 years imprisonment.
Dangerous Driving Causing Death
If dangerous operation of a motor vehicle occurs which results in the death of a person it is an aggravating circumstances which increases the maximum penalty to 14 years imprisonment.
Drink Driving (DYI)
Drink driving offences are now highly frowned upon by the courts and society generally. Harsh penalties are imposed upon persons detected driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
A person's drivers license will be immediately suspended by the police at the time of charging and will also be disqualified by a court for an offence of this nature at time of sentence. The length of the disqualification is increased depending on how high the alcohol reading is. The disqualification can be indefinite or designated for a time period from 1 month to five years.
Depending on the person's traffic history the person may even be liable to a period of imprisonment if the person has previous offences for drink driving.
It is therefore important you take up our offer of a free no obligation case appraisal so you understand exactly what the consequences are for any action you take before the court if charged with a drink driving offence.
Traffic Offences (Road Rules)
Traffic offences encompass numerous road rule breaches ranging from speeding, failing to give way or stop at a designated traffic sign, failing to stop at red or orange traffic light, failure to wear a seat belt and much more.
Traffic offences can also include driving with an expired drivers license, driving whilst unlicensed or driving whilst disqualified from driving. All of these offences usually carry with them a requirement for the court to disqualify the person's drivers license from 1 month up to 5 years or in some serious cases indefinitely. There is not always an option to apply for a workers license or a hardship license.
All of these offences are determined in the Magistrates Court before a Magistrate (not a jury).
Although these offences immediately seem minor in nature it is important you take up our offer of a free no obligation case appraisal so you understand exactly what the consequences are for any action you take before the court.
At all times a person must drive a motor vehicle with due care and attention. Failing to do so can result in police charging the person with an offence of failing to drive without due care and attention.
A minimum driver's license disqualification must be ordered by the court for an offence of driving without due care an attention. The maximum penalty for this offence is 40 penalty units or six months imprisonment. Routinely fines are ordered by the court for this offence if nobody is killed or received significant injury as a result of the offence. If a person is killed and/or received significant injury as a result of the offence the maximum penalty increases to two-year imprisonment depending on the persons traffic history.
It is therefore important you take up our offer of a free no obligation case appraisal so you understand exactly what the consequences are for any action you take before the court.
Public Nuisance – Street Type Offences
There are a number of offences which police can lay against a person in relation to public disturbance type offences. The main point of difference for these types of offences are if they have been committed on a licensed premises or in a location which is part of what is called a ‘safe night out precinct’.
Public nuisance is an offence pursuant to section 6 of the Summary Offences Act. This offence carries with it a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment or $1,334 fine. This is an offence which can be committed in any public place.
The Liquor Act provides for a number of like offences specifically related to licensed premises. These offences have similar penalties to what is imposed for committing a public nuisance offence. Further, if offences of this nature are committed, a banning order can be made prohibiting the person from returning to a designated area or location. For example, the person could be prohibited from attending the City CBD for a period of time, during designated times and days. A breach of the banning order is a separate and distinct offence which carries with it a maximum penalty of $8,007.
Offences against animals are taken very seriously by the courts and the community at large. Cruelty to animal charges carry maximum penalties of up to 7 years imprisonment.
The court also has the power to order restitution for the cost of euthanasia or for treatment of the victim animal against the person.
The court also has the ability to make prohibition orders against a person for having a pet, type of pet or amount of pets.
Workplace Health and Safety Investigations have now become routine. The regulator has legislative powers which force persons to answer questions otherwise they themselves commit an offence. The offences not only hold companies and individuals liable for significant financial penalties but also to the prospect of imprisonment.
In 2017 a criminal offence of ‘industrial manslaughter’ was introduced into Queensland law which carries with it a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment. This offence holds a person conducting a business or undertaking or a senior officer criminally liable for a death of employee which occurs in the course of the employee carrying out work for the business or undertaking.