My son (38 yrs old) was involved in a multi car accident while driving a work vehicle. He left the work site after what we believe was an auditory halucination - he believed he got a phone call advising him that his son had been injured on the way to school. He has no memory of a 4 hour period of that day including when he hit the other vehicles. He was arrested by the police at the scene and taken to hospital for assessment - blood and urine samples were taken - he was not over the legal alcohol limit. He is a regular drinker and marijuana smoker but had not smoked for 7 days prior to the accident. He is currently seeing a specialist for further review and diagnosis as to the cause of the episode - this may be brain damage due to long term alcohol use or a drug psychosis or a form of epilepsy - we're not sure how long this will take. According to NSW Police Media reports my son has been charged with 7 traffic offences including 'drive vehicle in manner dangerous' and 'negligent driving'. According to the media statement he is due to appear in court on 16 July 2012 however he has no personal knowledge of this. Police came to his home the day after the accident and suspended his license for 14 days but he has had no contact with them since then. My questions are: 1) Can police lay charges without your knowledge? 2) Are any of the potential diagnoses defences against the charges? 3) Is there any immediate advice you can provide on how we should proceed?
As money is a great concern this service is the first thing I've tried
1) Can police lay charges without your knowledge? Yes they can. In fact quite often when I did duty lawyer work in the Brisbane Magistrates Court, many of the people charged did not know what they had been charged with.The specific charges are made known during disclosure to your son's lawyer (if he has one). 2) Are any of the potential diagnoses defences against the charges? Driving offences such as these tend to be strict liability offences. That means it doesn't matter what his state of mind was, once the act of the offence is carried out, a person is guilty of the offence. So unfortunately not. 3) Is there any immediate advice you can provide on how we should proceed? I would recommend that before his hearing date, he go and spend an hour with a criminal lawyer. He should retain the criminal lawyer to appear at his Court date and make sentencing submissions before the Magistrate which should result in him receiving a lighter sentence than he would otherwise receive without the assistance of a lawyer.
I did my law degree at the University of Queensland
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