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Broadcasting Sentencing Remarks

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September 8, 2016

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Queensland is to allow cameras into its courtrooms in a pilot program that has weighed the delicate balance between detriment to victims, offenders and the public interest as against aiding public understanding of, and confidence in, the sentences the courts impose. It might be seen as ironic that the media, from whose ranks so many so often call so loudly for tougher sentencing, has led the push that might result in greater public acceptance of the sentences actually imposed. Studies show that increased awareness of the facts of individual cases improves […]


Sentencing Statistics in the ACT

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August 29, 2016

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Great care needs to be taken when using statistics during sentencing submissions at courts, as a recent ACT Court of Appeal judgment confirms. The old legal maxim that “every case turns on its own facts and circumstances” holds true as much today as when it was first uttered. The recent ACT decision dealt with a man convicted of driving a motor vehicle without consent, driving whilst disqualified, attempted burglary, attempted aggravated robbery, obstructing police, possessing an offensive weapon, theft, burglary and possessing an article with intent to use it in the […]


Theft from employer

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June 9, 2016

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Matters of theft and fraud from a person’s workplace are treated very seriously by the courts, as a recent ACT Supreme Court case shows. The recent judgment by Justice Burns involved a person who admitted taking more than $1.4 million in eight separate transactions over a 15-month period. As the employer was a Federal Government agency, the eight charges of theft were brought under the Commonwealth Criminal Code. Each carried a maximum prison term of 10 years. There are many related charges, under Commonwealth, and state and territory law, to cover […]


Punishment v Rehabilitation

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March 10, 2016

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One of the primary purposes of sentencing is to rehabilitate an offender so that they don’t find themselves in front of the Court again. This is obviously in the interests of the offender and the community – no one wants to be sent to gaol and no one wants to be the victim of a serious crime. One of the key sentencing principles is “to promote the rehabilitation of the offender”. However, recidivism rates in Australia are alarmingly high. The Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted a Prison Census in 2014 which […]


Sentencing and Bail in NSW Election

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March 27, 2015

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Magistrates and judges often say to defendants in criminal cases that the points they (and sometimes their practitioners) are making are points for legislators, not judicial officers. That is because Parliament makes the laws, and the judiciary implements them: this is the bedrock of the doctrine of the separation of powers and the backbone of the rule of law in a representative democracy. With a NSW state election only days away, though, defendants (also known as citizens and voters), can make their points in the most powerful way possible – via […]


Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Courts

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January 5, 2015

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Domestic violence is a problem that is not easy to solve. Despite concerted efforts from police, the government, judges and magistrates to name just a few, the problem doesn’t appear to be getting better. Far too frequently, it ends in tragedy. We are constantly greeted by shocking headlines in newspapers about cases where domestic violence results in serious injuries or even death. Even more shockingly, it is often claimed that better intervention by authorities may have saved the victim’s life. That may be true. Police resources are stretched, and officers have […]


Punishment by Postcode

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July 8, 2014

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The front page of Friday’s Daily Telegraph caught my attention. The heading reads: “Driving Under the Affluence”. The paper coined the phrase to describe statistics suggesting that Courts in wealthier suburbs are less likely to impose gaol for high range PCA offences. It’s a catchy headline, but if it’s accurate, this idea that where you live directly affects your sentence, is concerning. We live in a society that values “blind justice”. The image of Lady Justice, blindfolded as she weighs the case with her scales, reminds us of this. In less […]


Drug Season

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October 3, 2012

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With the Labour Day long weekend just behind us, and the summer months fast approaching, Sydneysiders are preparing for many weekends relaxing and soaking up the sun. It is also that time of year for music festivals. Parklife, the first major mainstream festival of the season was held in Sydney over the weekend. The NSW police praised the majority of the revellers on their good behaviour while noting the offences that allegedly occurred.   According to a NSW Police media release there were six people charged with offensive conduct, twelve with […]


Criminal Sentencing in NSW

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September 12, 2012

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Criminal sentencing is a topic that has been heavily discussed in NSW and the rest of Australia in recent years. Most recently, the case of the death of Thomas Kelly in Sydney’s Kings Cross has highlighted strong opinions regarding sentencing for violent offences. On several social media sites, blogs, and news websites, members of the public have made comments claiming that the justice system in entirely inadequate. Some outrageous claims, including that the judiciary together with the criminal defence “sharks” (otherwise known as lawyers) conspire to manipulate the system to allow […]

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