Summary Offences Lawyers Melbourne

Get expert legal representation for your summary offence. 

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Expert Representation for Your Summary Offence 

With offices in both Melbourne CBD and Dandenong, we’re here to help navigate summary charges heard in Victorian Magistrates’ Courts. 

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Wilful Damage to Property 

Wilful damage to property includes offences such as $5,000 or less in damage to property, trespassing, vandalism, graffiti and water pollution. 

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Drunk and Disorderly Conduct 

Being drunk and disorderly in a public place is punishable by up to 20 penalty units and three days in jail for a first offence, increasing to one month in jail for second and subsequent offences. 

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Common and Aggravated Assault 

Common assault is where a person assaults or beats another and aggravated assault is assault of a child under 14 or a female, or an assault involving more than one offender, kicking or a weapon. 

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Sexual Exposure 

Sexual exposure of yourself in or within view of a public place can be punishable by up to two years in jail.   

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Sex Work 

Although certain sex work is legal in Australia, it is subject to strict regulation. Violation of these regulations can amount to a summary offence. 

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Other Offences 

Other summary offences include lighting fires in open places, delaying police entry, threatening people, and harassing witnesses.  

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Leading Melbourne Criminal Lawyers 

If you’ve been charged with a summary offence, getting expert legal representation is critical. 

Even though summary offences are less serious than indictable offences, they are still criminal acts and you could face tens of thousands of dollars in fines and/or jail time if convicted. 

If convicted, you’ll also receive a criminal record, which can impact your job opportunities, your ability to buy or rent a property, and your freedom to travel overseas. 

Understanding your options fully is important – if you’re not guilty or have a defence for your actions, then you need a skilled summary offences lawyer who will work with you to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. 

Summary Offences vs. Indictable Offences 

A summary offence is not the same as an indictable offence. 

Summary offences are less serious criminal offences that are heard in the Magistrates’ Court and have a maximum penalty of two years in jail or 240 penalty units. 

Indictable offences are much more serious crimes that include things like drug trafficking, murder, rape, arson, and aggravated burglary. The first hearing for an indictable offence is heard in the Magistrates’ Court, but further hearings are held in the County or Supreme Courts. 

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How Summary Offences Get Heard in Court 

1. Charges 

If the police believe you have committed a summary offence, they’ll charge you with that offence. 

That doesn’t mean you’ll be arrested.  

If your offence is very minor, the police may bring you in for questioning, charge you, and then release you with summons to attend court. 

If your offence is more serious, you’ll probably be arrested and then released on bail until your trial. 

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2. Mentions Hearing 

Your first court appearance for a summary offence is a mentions hearing. 

At this hearing, the magistrate will read out your charge(s), and you’ll enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. 

If you plead guilty, your case might be finalised at your mentions hearing. 

If you plead not guilty, your case will be adjourned to a contest mentions hearing or a trial. 

3. Contest Mentions Hearing 

If you pleaded not guilty, the magistrate will consider whether your case can be resolved at your contest mentions hearing.  

This often involves pleading guilty to a reduced set of charges.   

If your case can’t be resolved, it will go to trial. 

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4. Contest Hearing (Trial) 

A contest hearing or trial is when your lawyer and the prosecution present their cases to the court. 

Your lawyer will try to show that you either didn’t commit the charges or had a legally defensible reason for doing so. 

Both sides may present evidence, call witnesses to testify, and cross-examine the other side’s witnesses. 

Once both sides have presented their case, the magistrate will make a decision (guilty or not guilty for each charge), and then determine any penalties. 

5. Failure to Attend Court 

If you fail to appear in court for any of the three previous steps, the magistrate may: 

  • adjourn your matter to a later date; 
  • issue a warrant for your arrest; or 
  • conduct an ex-parte hearing, where the magistrate decides your case based on the evidence before them.  
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Summary Offences FAQs 

How serious is a summary offence?

A summary offence is a serious criminal matter, but is less serious than indictable offences (such as grievous bodily harm, arson, murder, and sexual assault).  As such, summary offences are heard in the Magistrates’ Court, have lower penalties, and are normally resolved more quickly.

What is the maximum penalty for a summary conviction?

Generally, a summary offence has a maximum penalty of up to two years in prison or a fine of up to 240 penalty units (as of 2022, this equates to $44,380.80). 

What are some examples of summary offences?

Summary offences are detailed in the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) and the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic).  They include most minor criminal acts – things that are illegal, but don’t necessarily cause significant harm to property or other people. 

Some examples of summary offences include: 

  • Being drunk and disorderly in a public place 
  • Assaulting or beating another person (provided the assault doesn’t rise to the level of more serious charges) 
  • Distributing intimate images of another person 
  • Sex work near a school between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. 
  • Vandalising a building 
  • Graffitiing a wall 
  • Tattooing a juvenile 
  • Wilfully destroying another person’s property 

Are summary offences criminal?

Yes, summary offences are criminal.  If you are convicted of a summary offence, you will have a criminal record and could face jail time or serious financial penalties.   

Get the outcome that you deserve. 


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