Demetrius was going about his business around town when he witnessed an elderly member of the community being verbally assaulted, with the threat of physical assault. Although other bystanders were present, no action was being taken and Demetrius came to the elderly man’s aid. To his dismay, however, Demetrius was charged with assault of the original perpetrator, while the perpetrator received an infringement for disturbing the peace / disorderly conduct.
The pressure of receiving the charge was compounded by his criminal history of assault, however in quite different circumstances. Not only was he recently unemployed, dealing with the pressures of living day to day on limited income, he was now facing a potential 3 months jail with no way of paying a lawyer to represent him.
A duty lawyer would have minimal contact with and generally not assist with contesting charges, only pleas. As the offence was not indictable, it would not be readily granted Victoria Legal Aid funding.
After meeting with Demetrius, our lawyer faced a number of challenges. The CCTV footage police were to rely on, did show a punch thrown, although not clear if made contact with perpetrator. However, witnesses said no contact was made, supported by the fact that the perpetrator sustained no injuries. Police did not interview the other bystanders and therefore client had to obtain statements from them himself.
Based on the merit of his case, our lawyer agreed to represent Demetrius in the small, regional court for a summary case conference. Following the conference, the prosecution agreed to withdraw the charge. Had Demetrius not been represented, he may not have received such a positive outcome.