Without legal aid, Year 12 student Ash had to represent himself in court. He felt intimidated, confused and ended up with a criminal record.
Ash had just turned 18 and was in his HSC year at school, when he was stopped by police and searched on the street. He had no criminal record. Police found a fishing knife and $2500 in cash.
Ash was advised he was ineligible for a grant of Legal Aid as he was not facing jail. He pleaded guilty to custody of knife and pleaded not guilty to the Goods in Custody charge, and was prepared to give evidence that this was his money.
He was not represented at the court hearing. He felt intimidated and didn’t know what was happening. He was cross-examined after giving evidence about how he possessed the cash. He was given a chance to cross-examine the police but didn’t know what to ask.
Ash was found guilty of the goods in custody offence and was sentenced straight away to a section 9 good behaviour bond for six months with a conviction. He was also fined $220, with a conviction, for possessing the fishing knife.
Ash now has a criminal record. He has just started university, but is worried his record will affect his job prospects.