Your First Appointment With A Criminal Lawyer

If you are charged with a criminal offence you might make a sensible decision to make an appointment to see an experienced criminal lawyer. Engaging the services of a criminal lawyer will help ensure that your rights and interests are being looked after in the best possible way while your charge/s proceeds through the court system.

This article provides an overview of what documents your lawyer will require you to bring to your first appointment and the matters that are likely to be discussed at the first meeting.

For more information or to discuss a criminal charge that yourself or a loved one has received, contact our office immediately on (08) 9278 2575.

What Documentation Will I Need To Bring To My First Appointment?

If the police charge you with a criminal offence they must provide you with a number of particular documents. The documents will include:

  • a copy of the prosecution notices,
  • a copy of the statement of material facts, and
  • a copy of your bail undertaking or, alternatively, a court hearing notice.

It’s very important that you have a copy of these documents when you attend your first appointment with your lawyer. Without these documents, your lawyer won’t be in any real position to know exactly what you have been charged with or the factual circumstances and matrix that has been alleged.

It is not uncommon for people who have been charged with a criminal offence to initially have very little knowledge of what the allegations against them are or exactly what they have been charged with. Having a copy of the prosecution notices and the statement of material facts at your first appointment will assist your lawyer to have a clear perspective of what the charges are, what the factual allegations involve and, accordingly, what advice needs to be given. The contents of the statement of material facts will also indicate whether the accused person participated in police recorded interview.

Whether you participated in a recorded police interview is something your criminal lawyer will inevitably want to know when you attend your first appointment.

Prosecution Notices And Statement Of Material Facts: What Are These Documents?

The prosecution notice is a document that sets out the charge or charges that have been preferred and the section of the relevant legislation under which you have been charged.

The statement of material facts is a document that contains a synopsis of the factual allegations relating to the charge or charges.

The bail undertaking form will specify the time, date and place at which you are to attend court as well as any other conditions that have been imposed. Depending on the level of seriousness of the charge/s, the police can and often do, release a person without a bail undertaking. In these circumstances, a court hearing notice is issued which also specifies the time, date and place at which you are to attend court.

What If The Police Don’t Provide Me With These Documents?

It’s not uncommon for the police to charge you and release you on a bail undertaking to attend court on a particular day and time without providing you immediately with a copy of your prosecution notice or statement of material facts. These documents may take time for the police to prepare and may be served on you at a later time. The police are however obliged to provide these documents to you prior to, or by the first court mention hearing.

What Matters Are Likely To Be Discussed At The First Appointment With A Criminal Lawyer?

After reading and considering your statement of material facts and prosecution notices, your lawyer will likely advise you about whether the alleged facts constitute the offence with which you have been charged. You will likely be advised of the meaning and content of the elements that make up your charge. Your lawyer will probably inquire with you what you intend to do with your charges and how you think you want to proceed (i.e. whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty).

Am I Guilty Or Not Guilty?

Often people may initially think they are guilty of the offence because they accept the statement of material facts as a correct and accurate reflection of what had occurred. For example; a person charged with assault may think they are guilty because they accept that they struck the victim as alleged.

However, a further enquiry from their lawyer of the events that transpired may reveal that they have a defence to the charge because they were provoked or had acted in self-defence. Conversely, a person may think their actions did not constitute the offence for which they have been charged when an objective assessment of the facts reveals the prosecution case against them is strong.

If you participated in the police recorded interview your lawyer may likely want to view and consider that interview before advising you whether you have a defence to your charge.

Here is some important information you should know before pleading guilty.

What Matters Do I Need To Know If I Decide To Plead Guilty To My Charge?

Ultimately, if you are advised that a plea of guilty is the better option, your lawyer should inform you of the maximum penalties provided for the offence/s and the likely outcome at sentencing. Rarely does a person receive the maximum penalty provided for an offence and often the penalty handed down at sentencing is a fraction of the maximum penalty that may be provided.

Your lawyer should also advise you of any other consequences which are likely to result from a conviction being recorded for the offence. For example, a person may have been charged with being in possession of prohibited drugs, the quantity of which gives rise to an automatic traffic declaration and the ultimate seizure and confiscation of the person’s assets.

Your lawyer should also advise that you do not have to plead guilty and emphasise that how you proceed with your matter is a matter for you to ultimately decide. Your lawyer should advise that if you decide to plead not guilty the prosecution would, in these circumstances, be required to prove each and every element of the offence and that you, as an accused person, are not required to prove anything.

How Serious Is My Charge And Where Will It Be Heard And Determined?

At your first appointment, your lawyer may advise you about which court your matter will be ultimately determined in. In Western Australia, criminal offences are made up of simple offences and indictable offences.

Simple offences are dealt with in the Magistrates Court. Generally speaking, simple offences are less serious than indictable offences, which are typically determined in the District or Supreme Courts. The Magistrates Court does not carry the power and jurisdiction to impose the lengthy terms of imprisonment that are commonly imposed in the District and Supreme Court. However, offences that are dealt with in the Magistrates Court can and often do attract terms of imprisonment.

If your charge is an indictable charge, unless it carries life imprisonment as a maximum penalty, the charge will more likely be heard in the District Court. If you are proceeding to trial in the District or Supreme Courts on a plea of not guilty, your matter will be heard before a judge and an empanelled jury.  On the other hand, if your matter is being heard and determined in the Magistrates Court there is no jury and the Magistrate acts as both the trier of fact as well as the person that imposes the sentence.

Regardless of whether you are charged with a simple offence or an indictable offence, all prosecutions are commenced in the Magistrates Court. However, the length of time of the judicial process for matters that are finalised in the Magistrates Court is shorter than if your charge proceeds on an indictment in the District or Supreme Court.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence and want to ensure your interests and future are being protected by an experienced criminal lawyer, contact the Andrew Williams Criminal Law Offices on 08 9278 2575 to arrange an appointment time.

PLEASE NOTE: The material in this blog post is for informational use only and should not be construed as legal advice. For answers to your questions regarding this or other topics, please contact a professional legal representative.

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Words cannot express my gratitude for Andrew agreeing to take my case on, commit to returning from annual leave early, and the personal support and legal expertise provided in defending the driving charges made against me.

The delays I experienced by the two adjournments, while prolonging my anxiety and reducing my faith that I would receive a favourable outcome, worked very much in my favour but moreover it was the multiple submissions and arguments that Andrew made at law on my behalf that cemented the somewhat miraculous outcome including two spent convictions.

Though I genuinely never for a second doubted Andrew's skills, experience and abilities, my fate felt somewhat pre-determined given the significant impact sustained by the complainant.

Andrew was kind, non judgmental, clearly experienced and committed and he accommodated my anxieties and emotion surrounding the charges laid against me.

Andrew went out of his way to give me the best chance possible for a favourable outcome that, in the end, the Magistrate considered and responded accordingly.

All in all, I could not have dreamt of a better outcome considering the circumstances and I...

Rel M
Rel M

I had Andrew deal with my case recently and couldn't of been happier with the result he got for me. From the start Andrew was quick to reply to any questions and queries I had regarding my matter. He was very professional in my opinion, very easy to talk to and explained things quite well. I felt very comfortable in the courtroom knowing that Andrew wanted to get the best result he could for me, and I would highly recommend Andrew Williams to anyone who needs a criminal lawyer.


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I was on a very tight rope where, if it balanced the wrong way, it would have totally devastated my life. Andrew was honest through the entire process preparing me for the worst but never let me give up and thankfully with his help got a great outcome that let me move forward with my family. I cant praise Andrew enough and recommend him 100%.


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Joly M

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Ryan B

After making several calls to various law firms, I came across Andrew Williams who was quick to respond providing knowledgeable, honest and friendly legal advice. At all times I felt confident in Andrew's ability to defend the charges. The case went to trial with an outcome of not guilty. I was awarded full legal costs. Could not be happier.


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Matt K

Andrew was fantastic to deal with. His courtroom demeanor and skills were apparent. He was always able to assist with a complex matter across nearly 3 years in rural WA. Would highly recommend his services.


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Wesley H

Of my limited experiences in the judicial system, I can’t rate Andrew Williams highly enough. He was fantastic on my day in court and was very straight up during my consultations. He is such an awesome person, and the best professional criminal lawyer I have ever encounter. Need help call Andrew.


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Thanks a lot for handling my case and getting the pleasant outcome. Since the first time I talked to you I have known that my case was in a capable hands. I am impressed by your knowledge and confidence which gave me confidence. Cheers.


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Thank you so much Andrew for grooming me and going over the process over and again. It was a traumatic time for me and you kept me focused. I really appreciate your guidance and we came out with the best result.

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My personal experience with Andrew Williams was a pleasant one from day one. In the midst of a police raid and the inability to find legal representation I considered myself done for when Andrew took the time to call me back after I contacted his office (during which time he was in trial). Upon soliciting some legal advice, Andrew was straight with me and I made an appointment with him in which he clearly explained the seriousness of my case. After some time, when the matter was moved to the District Courts I was well aware that I would likely be looking at some jail time; the nature of the legal systems and the way in which bureaucracy works is an extremely draining and mentally exhausting process. However, Andrew kept me well informed at every step of the way and promptly wrote to prosecution at critical points outlining my circumstances.

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I was charged with the offence of aggravated common assault. I engaged Andrew Williams to act for me.

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My wife and I were so glad that we chose Andrew Williams to handle our sons Reckless Driving charge. What a relief to know we have people like him around to help.

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I trusted that Andrew was the person to defend my case in our initial contact on the phone. He was very confident in his approach, from the first point of contact to the court room. I believe this must be from years of experience. Another added bonus for Andrew is that he is very honest and fair. He tells you like it is in the book of law and does not appear manipulative. His communication skills helped me help him to form a best defensive argument for my case. In other words, he made me comfortable to open up to him. In the end, he was able to convince the judge to let me off with only warning for providing misleading information to the police officer, which can be recorded as a criminal record against your name for 10 years.


Abraham A

Unhappy with my then representation, I went searching for a new criminal lawyer. Andrew responded quickly and professionally to my enquiry. It was quickly apparent during the first meeting that Andrew was knowledgeable, honest and was committed to getting us the best possible outcome. Andrew looked at all avenues available to me in a Magistrates Court matter. He negotiated on my behalf with the prosecution, attended 3 court hearings and defended my plea at a sentencing hearing. Andrew presented strong arguments in my defense and I was very pleased with a successful outcome. Andrew was also transparent and reasonable with his capped fee costing structure.


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After being charged with Common Assault of a minor I made a sensible decision not to use the local Kununurra law firm. I engaged Andrew Williams to assist me with resolving this matter (to the point of me being awarded costs). Despite being 4000km away I never had any issues with Andrew's commitment to my case. He promptly returned all calls and demanded I do likewise when important information needed to be exchanged. I found him to be an intelligent, straight-talking and knowledgeable legal counsel. I have no hesitation in recommending this likeable and professional lawyer to those that require legal representation. Especially those that reside in regional or remote areas where there is no choice.


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Andrew Williams is a criminal laywer of much dedication I will never have the words of gratitude and admiration for his honesty and integrity I would highly recommend him to anyone who may require his services in the future


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I just wanted to take my time to explain my experience with Andrew Williams. I had an incident that could have really affected my future. As anyone does I called around all the lawyers in Perth and just not any lawyer but the ones who are highly respected amongst other lawyers and get the results. I have a friend who works in the industry and she recommended Andrew. She said she always sees Andrew in the paper with amazing outcomes to cases that he gets for his clients I first called his office and left a message with the receptionist. At the time he was on leave and it was his wife birthday. He promised her he wouldn't be bothered with work (this was at christmas time as well) he made the effort and called me to see if I was okay and how everything was. From that moment on I knew I had found my criminal lawyer. When you are going to court you want someone who is going to care about you and go the extra mile and not just pay you off. From the whole experience he was straight with me and very honest. My case was not an easy one and it could have been a very bad outcome. Andrew went out of his way to get me what I wanted. Throughout the whole process I felt like I was dealing with a friend. He was very professional and got the outcome I wanted. I really couldn't ...

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I found dealing with Andrew Williams Law Firms to be quite pleasant and professional. I have nothing but utmost regard for this firm and would recommend anyone who needs a good criminal lawyer.


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If you want to get the best lawyer money can buy and get results? Look no further than Andrew Williams and get him in your corner. Not only is he a great guy I found his legal services very professional and knowledgeable and his attention to detail was faultless. This was a very tumultuous time in my life I was facing two criminal charges and my anxiety and stress levels were through the roof, but thanks to Andrew's cool calm and confident demeanor he was able to walk me through it and keep me focused every step of the way. I was acquitted in both cases thanks to Andrew. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you again Andrew you did a fantastic job. My advice to anyone facing Criminal charges would be to phone Andrew as soon as possible.


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