Ljupka Subeska: No get out of jail free card

EVIDENTLY, lawyers of late have been making bold statements to their clients about the likely outcome of their case and liberally throwing around a section 10 as an outcome.

WHILE I sat in court not long ago, waiting for my turn in the insufferably long list, I overheard someone say to their lawyer, “You told me I’d get a section 10!”

The lawyer replied: “The magistrate made a mistake. We’ll appeal. We’ll get it in the District Court.”

Evidently, lawyers of late have been making bold statements to their clients about the likely outcome of their case and liberally throwing around a section 10 as an outcome. In doing so, the section 10 has reached the ears of the layperson.

A section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 is a non-recorded conviction.

This is basically the defendant’s one chance to maintain that blemish-free criminal record. Recently, in one day alone, I received three calls before midday all asking me to get a section 10.

I learned quickly over the years that the best policy is to underpromise and overdeliver, so that’s exactly what I do.

But this new wave of technology-savvy clients seems to demand instant gratification; instant indication that they’ll get off their charge.

Maybe the new wave of lawyers (and there definitely has been an influx and clear oversupply) are making these bold assurances to keep their client.

Sydney lawyer Ljupka Subeska.

Sydney lawyer Ljupka Subeska.

Are times getting dire for the flood of lawyers in this market that they need to appease their clients with seemingly false guarantees?

My barrister friend once told me how his client received a section 10 for manslaughter. Manslaughter.

Sure, there were exceptional circumstances where two drug addicts were injecting each other and one happened to die.

But is it dangerous to let wind of that fact be known to the common defendant and raise their expectations so high?

In the past few months I’ve been successful in obtaining those section 10s. All with merit, of course. All with tremendous effort. All usually unlikely to be granted.

All even pleasantly surprised me, notwithstanding my persuasiveness.

But are some lawyers throwing around that promise of a section 10 so flippantly that everyone who calls us almost expects it from some presumed lenient magistrates and judges?

A section 10 is a privilege, not a right.

* Ljupka Subeska is a Sydney lawyer

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