Sentencing Advisory Council – Child Homicide

Criminal lawOn 26 October 2017, the Sentencing Advisory Council received Terms of Reference from the Attorney General regarding the “penalties imposed on sentence for criminal offences arising from the death of a child”  The AG noted that there has been commentary expressing the view that the penalties imposed for these offences may not be meeting the expectations of the community.

In announcing the review the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council noted “In 2015–16, the deaths of 390 children and young people were registered in Queensland. Nine of these children and young people died as a result of suspected or confirmed assault and/or negligence. Six of these children were alleged to have been killed by a family member and two were alleged to have been killed by a non-family member (in one case the relationship had not yet been determined).”

Sentencing Advisory Council Terms of Reference

The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council will:

  • Consider and analyse penalties currently imposed
  • Determine whether these penalties reflect the particular vulnerabilities of children
  • Identify trend and anomalies in sentences for crimes arising from a child’s death
  • Compare Queensland’s sentencing approach to other Australian jurisdictions
  • Consult with the community and key stakeholders

Consultation

As part of the review, The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council will consult with:

  1. Members of the public;
  2. the judiciary;
  3. legal profession;
  4. victim of crime groups;
  5. child protection advocacy groups; and
  6. relevant government agencies.

Key dates

  1. Preliminary submissions – 3 December 2017:
  2. The consultation paper and further call for submissions – First half 2018:

The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council is to report back by October 31 2018.

If you need advice regarding a legal matter or legal representation, please contact Gatenby Criminal Law on (07) 55800120 or send us a message online.

Disclaimer

This website contains general information about legal matters.  The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.  You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional legal services provider.  You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.

For specific legal advice, you should immediately contact Gatenby Criminal Lawyers on (07) 5580 0120.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

 

Sentencing Advisory Council – Intermediate Sentencing Options and Parole

Criminal lawOn 26 October 2017, the Sentencing Advisory Council received Terms of Reference from the Attorney General regarding “community-based sentencing orders, imprisonment and parole options”.  At the core of the sentencing process is the effective rehabilitation, reintegration and supervision of prisoners released into the community.  Other than those serving a life sentence, there must be an acknowledgment that at some point an offender will be released back into the community.  Parole is crucial in reducing the risk of re-offending by those under supervision, prior to the end of their sentence.

Sofronoff Report

The terms of reference are in response to the recommendations in the 2016 Queensland Parole System Review Final Report undertaken by the new president of the Court of Appeal, Walter Sofronoff.  The examination of the parole system in followed widely published media reports of the alleged murder of Elizabeth Kippin by a man on parole.

Sentencing Advisory Council terms of reference

During the 18-month review, the Sentencing Advisory Council will look at recommendations 2–5 of the Sofronoff Report:

  • Recommendation 2: Court ordered parole should be retained.
  • Recommendation 3: A Court should have the discretion to set a parole release date or a parole eligibility date for sentences of greater than three years where the offender has served a period of time on remand and the Court considers that the appropriate further period in custody before parole should be no more than 12 months from the date of sentence.
  • Recommendation 4: A suitable entity, such as the Sentencing Advisory Council, should undertake a review into sentencing options and in particular, community-based orders to advise the Government of any necessary changes to sentencing options.
  • Recommendation 5: Court ordered parole should apply to a sentence imposed for a sexual offence.

Legislation

The review will consider the relevant legislation, including

  1. Penalties and Sentences Act 1992; and
  2. Corrective Services Act 2006

Consultation

As part of the review, The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council will consult with:

  1. Members of the public;
  2. the judiciary;
  3. legal profession;
  4. victim of crime groups;
  5. prisoner advocacy and support groups; and
  6. relevant government agencies.

Key Dates

  1. consultation paper and call for submissions – 2018:
  2. The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council is to report back by 30 April 2019.

 

Disclaimer

This website contains general information about legal matters.  The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.  You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional legal services provider.  You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.

For specific legal advice, you should immediately contact Gatenby Criminal Lawyers on (07) 5580 0120.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

Opening of Southport’s specialist Domestic and Family Violence Court

Businesswoman in front of a bookcase

On 19 October 2017, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath officially opened Southport’s permanent specialist Domestic and Family Violence Court.  The renovations reflect the caseload of Southport’s specialist DFV court which has dealt with more than 12,000 matter since the trial began in September 2015.

The renovations include:

  1. A dedicated registry counter for enquiries and filing DFV court applications;
  2. Secure entry for courtrooms
  3. Video conferencing facilities for female victims too fearful to attend court in person and witnesses.
  4. Quiet room for distressed women;
  5. Secure children’s play area,
  6. Meeting room facilities for men and their legal and support services, and
  7. Sound-proofed meeting rooms.

The $2.69 million renovation to upgrade Southport courthouse is in addition to the $69.5 million previously allocated to domestic and family violence courts in the 2017-18 State Budget.

The opening follows the appointment of two specialist Magistrates for the Southport DFV Court – Clare Kelly and Louise Shepherd.

Do you require legal advice or representation regarding a domestic violence matter? Call Gatenby Criminal Law now on (07) 5580 0120 or send us a message online.

Disclaimer

This website contains general information about legal matters.  The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.  You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional legal services provider.  You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.

For specific legal advice, you should immediately contact Gatenby Criminal Lawyers on (07) 5580 0120.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

New Handbook for Justices of the peace

Since the introduction of the Justices of the Peace and Commissioners for Declarations Act 1991 there have been many multiple amendments to the role and obligations of both the Justices of the peace and commissioners for declarations.  The JP Handbook has been updated many times to reflect these ongoing changes.  In an effort to assist Justices of the Peace the Queensland Government has released a new loose leaf service that can be easily updated.

The online version of the new guide can be accessed here or alternatively you can order the loose leaf serviced through the Queensland Government Publications website.

Justices of the Peace have a long history of assisting the community as voluntary legal officers.

Queensland has more than 86,000, JP’s and Commissioners for Declarations.  They each play an important role in the judicial system and often acts a preliminary check and balance against the power of the state.  Particularly in relation to criminal matters, the Justice of the Peace is required to exercise their discretion when considering  a police application to issue a warrant or summons.

The new guide details the how, what, why and when of witnessing multiple types of documents – from Titles Registry forms, statutory declarations and affidavits through to family law documents, wills and advance health directives.

The new guide will assist Justices of the Peace in the exercise of their duties.

What to do if you can’t afford a criminal lawyer?

A criminal case can be quite costly whether you are the one filing the lawsuit or you are on the defense side. Not everyone is financially capable to be in such a situation. However, it should not hinder you from getting yourself properly represented in the criminal court. Legal Aid in Queensland can help you get a criminal lawyer even if you cannot afford to hire one.

Legal Aid in Queensland (LAQ) is an organisation funded by the Queensland Government to provide free legal information, advice and representation (if you meet LAQ’s criteria) to financially disadvantaged people. It has 14 regional offices and community access points offices scattered all over Queensland. Legal Aid in Queensland offer legal services for the following criminal cases:

If you would like a legal aid to help get you a criminal lawyer, you should call LAQ or visit a regional office to get a free legal advice. Afterwards, you will accomplish an application form for a grant of legal aid, which is available through LAQ’s website, regional offices or one of LAQ’s preferred law firm supplier.

Not all applicants will get free legal representation with their criminal case though. Legal Aid in Queensland requires certain criteria that will help determine if the applicant can be given legal assistance without contribution, with initial contribution, or is not eligible for legal assistance. To find out if an individual is eligible for the grant, he or she must pass LAQ’s Means Test and Merits Tests. The criminal lawsuit should also fall within the scope of the organisation’s criminal law guidelines.

If your legal aid application to get a criminal lawyer is most unfortunately not granted, then you can try approaching some of LAQ’s preferred law firm suppliers like Gatenby Criminal Law firm. Gatenby Criminal Law also gives free initial consultation and fixed fee quote if you choose our Criminal Lawyers. We can appear as solicitor advocates and reduce the extra costs associated with criminal representation. Contact us and we will provide the best criminal lawyer to represent you at the most cost effective way possible.

New Chair of Legal Aid Board Announced

On 4 May 2017, Queensland’s Attorney-General announced the appointment of  Retired Justice Margaret McMurdo as the new Chair of the Legal Aid Board of Queensland.

Justice McMurdo retired as a President of the Court of Appeal in March this year.  Her Honour was first appointed in January 1991 and  was appointed President of the Court of Appeal in 1998.

Her Honours appointment is welcomed by members of the legal profession.

If you need financial assistance for a legal matter you may be entitled to legal aid (provided you meet their criteria).

This website contains general information about legal matters.  The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.  You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional legal services provider.  You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.

For specific legal advice you should immediately contact Gatenby Criminal Lawyers on (07) 5580 0120.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

Child Protection (Offender Reporting) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 ‘The Bill’

Sentencing LawOur criminal law clerk, Stefanie Schilkowski outlines the amendment to the Child Protection legislation.

CHILD PROTECTION – TOUGH, STREAMLINED AND HOLISTIC NEW LAWS?

Following the 2013 review by the Crime and Corruption Commission of the Child Protection (Offender Prohibition Order) Act 2008, the bill was introduced late 2016. In short, it means greater police powers (by amending the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act), extending protection to community members/children, an amalgamation of current laws and amendments to offender reporting.

Current Child Protection Reporting Regime

Queensland currently separates its offender reporting legislation into two distinct but linked Acts; The:

  1. Child Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2004, placing reporting obligations on offenders, reporting personal details and whereabouts.
  2. Child Protection (Offender Prohibition Order) Act 2008, provides for the protection of the lives and sexual safety of children by regulating day to day conduct of relevant* sexual offenders through the issue of Offender Prohibition Orders (OPOs).

New Child Protection Bill

The new Bill amalgamates both laws and the Explanatory Notes state that the policies to be implemented by the Bill include:

  • OPO applications can now be heard concurrent with the associated criminal proceeding. The Court can now make any OPO with the consent of the offender but where the interests of justice are not satisfied the court will be required to conduct a hearing.
  • The court will have wider criteria to determine whether the relevant sexual offender is able to consent to the order, i.e. whether the offender has a cognitive disability, mental illness or an addiction, which impedes the person’s capacity to consent.
  • The maximum penalty has now increased to five years imprisonment or 300 Penalty Units for offences associated with reporting and compliance under the new bill.
  • Who is considered a reportable offender? There are occasions where a person escapes this classification simply because of the manner in which an indictment is presented to the court or because the person pleads to a lesser offence. To this, the Palaszczuk government says no more. Anyone who intends, attempts or commits sexual or particular other serious offences against a child will be liable to an offender reporting order where the court is satisfied that the facts and circumstances of the indicted offence contain elements of a reportable offence.
  • The bill also strengthens the obligations placed on reportable offenders in relation to travel, contact with children and reporting information. In this regard, reportable offenders will be required to report any contact with children who reside outside of Queensland where that contact is beyond the incidental contact of daily life. This includes online contact, telephone contact, written contact and physical contact. Reportable offenders will also be required to report the details of any children they travel with or intend or expect to have contact with the outside of Queensland. The time frames associated with reporting travel have been reduced from seven days to 48 hours, minimising the opportunity for reportable offenders to leave Queensland undetected for short periods of time. The bill will also require reportable offenders to report the cessation of any personal particulars which are required to be reported—for example, the sale of a car or a house. This will ensure that the information held on the National Child Offender System is accurate and relevant.
  • The bill tightens reporting requirements in relation to contact with children interstate. This is a response to the development of information technology and messaging software.
  • Reporting obligations can be suspended where an offender has a significant mental illness.
  • Greater Police Powers – which allow police to require access information (e.g. passwords) to electronic devices where there is a reasonable suspicion that the offender has committed an offence and to allow police to inspect those devices.
  • Other protective mechanisms include restricting the number of times police can inspect a device in the possession of a reportable offender who has been convicted of a prescribed internet offence to four times in each 12-month period. Any further inspections would require approval by a magistrate and must be based on increased risk. All inspections based on increased risk are required to be approved by a magistrate. Every inspection will be recorded in the enforcement acts register and a report detailing the number of inspections undertaken, the outcomes of those inspections and any action taken by police as a result of each inspection will need to be tabled in parliament each year.
  • An offender who fails to provide access information will commit an offence and will be liable to a penalty of up to 300 penalty units or five years imprisonment. While there is no provision for self-incrimination for failing to comply with a requirement to give access information, police must apply to a magistrate for a post approval order after a requirement has been made. A reportable offender will not commit an offence for failing to comply with a requirement for access information where a magistrate does not make a post approval order.
  • The bill also provides police with additional opportunities to take fingerprints and photographs.
  • Last but not least the new section 77B prohibits the cross-examination of child witnesses by unrepresented respondents.

This Bill relocates the provisions of the Child Protection (Offender Prohibition Order) Act 2008 into a newly created Part 3A of the Child Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2004 to remove inconsistencies which have occurred as a consequence of separate regulatory regimes. The Child Protection (Offender Prohibition Order) Act 2008 will be repealed upon the commencement of the amalgamated legislation.

Explanatory notes

For a more extensive and detailed report on changes to the current laws please see the explanatory notes at Queensland Parliament website – Bill, Explanatory Note, Explanatory Speech

https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-committees/committees/ETISBC/inquiries/current-inquiries/13-ChildProtection

*Relevant sexual offenders are reportable offenders, previous reportable offenders and offenders who would have been reportable offenders had their sentences not been completed prior to the introduction of the offender reporting legislation

Disclaimer

This website contains general information about legal matters.  The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.  You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional legal services provider.  You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.

For specific legal advice, you should immediately contact Gatenby Criminal Lawyers on (07) 5580 0120.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

Freedom of Information Laws to be reviewed

Community Review of Freedom of Information Law

The Queensland Government is seeking input from the community on a review of the Queensland’s Right to Information Act 2009 and Information Privacy Act 2009.

History of Freedom of Information Laws

Criminal lawFollowing the Fitzgeral Inquiry (1987 – 1989), the Electoral and Administrative Review Commission recommended that Freedom of Information laws be introduced in Queensland. The Freedom of Information Act 1992 was the governments response.  It permitted access to information upon application.

In June 2008 the Solomon Report was handed down.  It proposed a difference approach, in that government bodies ought publish information unless there was a good reason not to. The response was the Right to Information Act 2009 and Information Privacy Act 2009.

Both of these Acts are an important part of Queensland’s legal framework.  They balance the need for access to government information and the rights of individuals to have information remain confidential.

Public Submissions

The Attorney-General (Qld) now seeks submissions from the public.  Any comments or submissions are to be provided by Friday 3 February 2017.

Click on the link below to access the discussion paper:

The State of Queensland (Department of Justice and Attorney-General), 2016 Consultation on the Review of the Right to Information Act 2009 and Information Privacy Act 2009.

Disclaimer

This website contains general information about legal matters.  The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.  You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional legal services provider.  You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.

For specific legal advice you should immediately contact Gatenby Criminal Lawyers on (07) 5580 0120.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

President of the Court of Appeal Announces Resignation

Criminal lawThis week the Court of Appeal President, Margaret McMurdo announced her intention to resign her position effective 26 March 2017.  Her Honour has been a judge in Queensland for more than 25 years, since becoming the first woman appointed to the bench of the District Court in 1991.  Her Honour’s appointment as President of the Court of Appeal, saw her the the first woman to preside over an appellate court in Australia

Justice McMurdo is a Companion of the Order of Australia and was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2003.

After being admitted to the bar in 1976, she spent time as an assistant public defender and at the private bar. She was also a founding member of Women Lawyers Association.

 

Reforms to Youth Justice Laws Brings Qld in Line With UN Convention

Youth Justice Reforms

Teenager under arrestQueensland’s 17 year old offenders are the only youths in the Country being sentenced outside the youth justice system.

By treating 17 year olds as adults in the criminal justice system, Queensland has been inconsistent not only with the rest of the country, but also in breach the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Under proposed youth justice reforms, 17 year olds are to be considered children.  It is anticipated that all children under the age of 18 year will proceed through the Youth Justice System.  The proposed reforms are hoped to reduce the rate of recidivism by diverting the youths from the Adult system and providing assistance.

Benefits

It is well recognised amongst stakeholders that the youth justice system provides:

  1. Greater capacity for offenders to be diverted away from the Court system;
  2. Access to age appropriate education, training and programs;
  3. Age appropriate support and supervision in custody;
  4. Reduced access to the influence of adult offenders; and
  5. The benefit of sentencing principles with prioritise support and rehabilitation in the community.

Children who do not have their basic health and welfare needs being met are at a greater risk of re-offending.  Youth require greater levels of education, training and engagement in employment if they are to avoid the statistics of returning to custody. The youth justice system is better suited to meeting these needs.

Amendment to Youth Justice Act

On 15 September 2016, the Attorney General, Ms D’Ath introduced the Youth Justice and Other Legislation (inclusion of 17 year old Persons) Amendment Bill 2016.  The purpose of the Bill is to recognise that 17 year olds are youths and not adults.  Importantly 17 year olds are to be included in the upper age of a ‘child’ for the purposes of the Youth Justice Act.  The definition of a ‘child’ will now include a person under the age of 18 years.

Commencement

The Bill will commence by proclamation 12 months after passage.  The delay is to account for the need to ensure that necessary planning is undertaken to facilitate a safe and proper transition.

Application

It is envisaged that there will be broadly three categories of youth that the amendment will apply to:

  1. 17 year old charged after proclamation;
  2. 17 year olds subject to current proceedings; and
  3. 17 year olds currently serving a custodial sentence.

17 year olds yet to be charged

This group will be treated as a child for the purpose of the Act.  The traditional application of part 6, division 11 of the Act will continue to govern the principles where a juvenile offender turns 18 prior to the commencement of proceedings.

17 year olds subject to current proceedings

The Bill proposes that the Court will have a discretion as to how to deal with those who are turning 18 close the finalisation of their sentence. The new subsection 390(3) will provide a broad power for a court to make an order or give a direction of ensure that any unanticipated scenarios can be dealt with appropriately.

17 year olds service a sentence

The Bill does not interfere with Sentence Orders made prior to commencement.  It will however, provide for the administration of those orders as 17 year olds in the Youth Justice System rather than the adult system.

If a 17 year old was sentenced to an adult probation order, that order would continue. The supervision of the Order would however be administered as though it were a Youth Justice Probation Order.

Similarly, a 17 year old, sentenced to imprisonment would serve that term of imprisonment in a youth detention centre.  The detention would be subject to the relevant provisions of the Youth Justice Act.  The youth would be released on a Supervised Release Order in place of Parole and/or would transition to an adult corrective services facility on reaching a certain age.

Further Reading

Click here to read more about the Inclusion of 17- year-old Persons Amendment Bill 2016

Disclaimer

This website contains general information about legal matters.  The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.  You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional legal services provider.  You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.

For specific legal advice you should immediately contact Gatenby Criminal Lawyers on (07) 5580 0120.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.