Help the cops, get a discount
DISCLOSURE TO THE POLICE OF UNKNOWN CRIMES
On the 12th November 2017 our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyer, Mr Daniel Wilson appeared in Bankstown Local Court in a rather peculiar matter.
Our client had been having an argument with his wife who was in Bed. He decided in order to solve the argument he would pull her out of bed and they both would drive to the police station wherein he was of the view the police would side with him. However, in pulling her out of bed he caused several small minor superficial lacerations to her arm. Moreover, when he got to the police station, he made the following admission. “I pulled my wife out of bed by the arm and bought her here”. He did this in such a way that the police on duty decided to investigate the lacerations to his wife’s arm to such an extent that he was charged with both Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm and Common Assault.
Our client was then left waiting in the police station for four hours and again after being charged kept for another six hours (10 hours in total). During this time, he went onto make the same admission to the investigating officer after his arrest and then again during his electronic recording of interview.
For all intensive purposes our client’s crime would have remained undiscovered if he didn’t drive to the police station and talk to the police about the incident. This right or wrong opened up the following line of legal argument.
WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY ABOUT CONFESSIONS OF UNKNOWN CRIMES?
Suffice to say where an offender makes voluntary disclosures of involvement in crime in respect of which the police had no knowledge, he or she is entitled to a “significant added element of leniency”, in accordance with the principles set out in R v Ellis (1986) 6 NSWLR 603 at 604 (“Ellis”).
This is known as the “Ellis discount”
In Ellis, not only did the respondent plead guilty, but he voluntarily disclosed to police for the first time his involvement in seven armed robberies. The oft-quoted passage from R v Ellis emanates from a short judgment of Street CJ, with whom Hunt and Allen JJ agreed. It reads as follows at 604:
“This court has said on a number of occasions that a plea of guilty will entitle a convicted person to an element of leniency in the sentence.
When the conviction follows upon a plea of guilty, that itself is the result of a voluntary disclosure of guilt by the person concerned, a further element of leniency enters into the sentencing decision. Where it was unlikely that guilt would be discovered and established were it not for the disclosure by the person coming forward for sentence, then a considerable element of leniency should properly be extended by the sentencing judge. It is part of the policy of the criminal law to encourage a guilty person to come forward and disclose both the fact of an offence having been committed and confession of guilt of that offence.
The leniency that follows a confession of guilt in the form of a plea of guilty is a well-recognised part of the body of principles that cover sentencing. Although less well recognised, because less frequently encountered, the disclosure of an otherwise unknown guilt of an offence merits a significant added element of leniency, the degree of which will vary according to the degree of likelihood of that guilt being discovered by the law enforcement authorities, as well as guilt being established against the person concerned”
Given the above, the way Daniel decided to deal with this case was very pragmatic and as follows:
- Firstly, although typical examples of injuries that are capable of amounting to actual bodily harm include scratches and bruises, Daniel managed to negotiated with the police to withdraw the more serious charge of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm;
- Daniel then negotiated with the police to amend the fact sheet so the injury was more correctly worded to reflect its minor nature;
- Daniel then advised our client to plead guilty to common assault and once in Court he made the magistrate aware of his submission based on the case of Ellis which was accepted; and
After the above Daniel then addressed the Court on penalty. By relying on the case of DBW v R  NSWCCA 236 at  he argued the penalty should be “significantly ameliorated” given his clients admissions to criminality that was unknown and was unlikely to be detected.
All Daniel’s arguments were accepted and our client got 50% discount and ultimately received a 6-month Conditional Release Order without the recording of a conviction. For an exclusive discussion on how to obtain no criminal convictions, click here.
Right or wrong this case goes to show that the law and its applicability is something which should only be entrusted to expert Sydney criminal lawyers who know the law.
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