Pittwater Life March 2018 Issue

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Dos and don’ts of attending court

Peninsula lawyer Chris Kalpage has assisted

hundreds of locals negotiate the

stressful court appearance process for

more than three decades. Over the course of

his career he’s noted where defendants have

come undone when dealing with authority

– and says there are some simple guidelines

to follow, should you find yourself before a

court, that will assist in “obtaining the best

outcome”.

Chris’ services range from criminal and

traffic law, including drink driving. The

nature of the business sees him available 24

hours a day, seven days a week.

First, he urges clients to not leave the assessment

of their case to the last minute.

“It may be human nature to put things in

the ‘too hard basket’ and to procrastinate, but

you are doing yourself a disservice,” he said.

“There are times when I would get a call from

a prospective client the evening before a court

appearance, or on the day of the court appearance

when the prospective client has turned

their mind to their problem only to realise

that it is far more complicated than they first

envisaged.”

Second, if you do consult with a lawyer,

Chris says you should make sure you do

everything asked of you, so the lawyer can be

thoroughly prepared and the best case can be

presented on your behalf.

“If you do not understand something, get

your lawyer to explain it to you,” he said. “I

have seen cases where a client has not understood

something that has happened in court

and then subsequently done something that

has got them in deeper trouble.”

Chris said arriving at the court on time was

important.

“Talk to your lawyer and confirm a time and

place of meeting before court and ensure that

you are there early,” he said. “The situation is

stressful enough without running late due to

some unforeseen circumstance that may have

easily been avoided.”

Personal appearance was crucial.

“Ensure that you are well dressed, wearing

the neatest attire you can afford,” he said. “If

you have a suit wear it, or even a shirt with a

collar… it is not that difficult.

“The number of times I have seen people

in court with shorts and t-shirt or singlet is

surprising.”

He added going to court was like a job

interview – “someone is going to be making

a decision that will impact upon you and you

should ensure that you are creating the best

impression”.

Last, Chris advised against getting into

arguments with the magistrate or prosecutor.

“Again, try to concentrate on the relevant

issues. That does not mean not putting one’s

case forcefully – but getting into an unnecessary

argument with the prosecutor or police

officers on a personal level may result in an

adverse result if they have any discretion to

exercise in your case.”

He said often where there were multiple

charges, discretion could be exercised in a

defendant’s favour in trying to get charges

dropped and proceeding with lesser charges;

often the police officer in charge and the

Prosecutor would be involved in this process.

Chris said getting into a personal argument

with a Magistrate or Judge, apart from

potentially having serious consequences, was

“just stupid”.

“Whether you like it or not, show respect for

the institution – it is the playing field that you

are on and a little respect shown towards the

institution and the Magistrate or Judge does

not harm your case.”

Chris offers home meetings on request, and

a free initial telephone conversation (see page

56 for contact details). – Nigel Wall

24 MARCH 2018

The Local Voice Since 1991

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