Case study: Alex
The LGBTI Legal Service recently advocated on behalf of Alex*, a transgender woman, who was charged by the Queensland Police Service (QPS) with stealing and fraud.
The Service, together with one of our volunteer solicitors, made submissions to the Police Prosecutor about both the fraud charge and the stealing charge.
The submissions were accepted by the Prosecutor in relation to the stealing charge, but not the fraud charge. The fraud charge related to Alex attending a beauty clinic for a prepaid treatment package. Parts of the treatment for which she had pre-paid could not be performed. As an alternative, given Alex had pre-paid for the treatment, she requested it be conducted on other parts of her body instead, which was done. As Alex was leaving the clinic, she was told by staff that there was an additional charge for the ‘other’ treatment she had received. Alex left the clinic without paying the additional charge. Alex was subsequently charged with fraud in relation to the unpaid additional charge.
The fraud charge continued and a solicitor from our Service appeared at Court on Alex’s behalf to have a date set for a Trial as Alex did not agree to plead guilty.
Our Service together with one of our volunteer barristers, once again made submissions to the Police Prosecutor more than 3 weeks from the date of the Trial, arguing that the charge be withdrawn. Despite multiple attempts to confirm with the Prosecutor whether the submissions were accepted, it was not until 4.00pm the day before the Trial that the Prosecutor confirmed they would offer no evidence on the charge to the Court, meaning the charge was effectively ‘dropped’.
This is not the first time that our Service has been involved in a matter where at the 11th hour Prosecutions indicated that they will offer no evidence at the Trial. Such a situation is very stressful for the person and their close supports in the period leading up to the Trial, only to be informed that there is ‘no case to answer’ on the day of the Trial.
Our Service also raised repeatedly with the Prosecutor, and with the Magistrate in Alex’s matter, that our client’s name was entered incorrectly on all material prepared by the police (QPS), this included reference to Alex’s ‘dead name’. The inclusion of her dead name was unnecessarily distressing for Alex and we requested that the errors be immediately corrected. Unfortunately, on a number of occasions Alex continued to be referred to with the incorrect name.
The Service continues to work closely with organisations including the QPS to ensure that their understanding of issues faced by the LGBTI community, including the distress ‘dead naming’ can cause to people identifying as transgender, is ever evolving and continually improves.
*Not the client’s real name