Subject: Criminal Law – possessing a mobile phone in custody pursuant to section 253F of the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 – not guilty
Jurisdiction: Goulburn Local Court
Represented by: Maggie Sten Criminal Defence Lawyer
Our client was incarcerated at Goulburn Correctional Centre where a mobile phone was found to be in his possession.
Our instructions were that he was being ‘stood over’ by a fellow inmate to hold the phone on that person’s behalf. The person had threatened the safety of our client’s family if he refused to comply. This is not only an offence punishable by Corrective Services but also a criminal offence that is reportable to police.
The law says that in some cases a person who commits what would otherwise be a crime should be excused from having done so as they acted under duress. The defence of duress recognises that a person’s choices have been overborne by a serious threat to either them or their family.
Our client pleaded not guilty on the basis that he was acting under duress.
When duress is raised, the onus is on the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was not acting under duress. In this case, after evidence was given by the prosecution witnesses and our client, Maggie submitted that our client acted under duress and that the prosecution had not proven otherwise beyond reasonable doubt. The magistrate agreed and found him not guilty of the offence.
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