VLAD head announced in Bikie Law Review

Harley DavidsonFormer Supreme Court Judge, Alan Wilson will head the review of VLAD laws as part an extensive review of organised crime, Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath announced today.  The Qld bikie laws were rushed into parliament following the infamous “Broadbeach Brawl”.  At the time there was considerable criticism that the laws were over-reaching and had not been subject to the usual scrutiny.  This review is expected to recommend changes to a number of key elements of the legislation.

Justice Wilson, who retired in March 2015, has enjoyed a distinguished career over more than three decades, Justice Wilson was admitted as a barrister in 1982 and was appointed to the District Court bench in 1998, before rising to the Supreme Court in 2009. He also became the inaugural head of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal at that time.

 The taskforce looking into the VLAD laws will include high-ranking representatives from the Queensland Law Society, the Bar Association of Queensland, the Public Interest Monitor, the Queensland Police Service, the Queensland Police Union, the Queensland Police Commissioned Officers’ Union of Employees, and senior public servants.

 The VLAD enquiry  will work in tandem with the Government’s Commission of Inquiry, headed by respected criminal barrister Michael Byrne QC, as part of a multi-faceted assault on organised crime.

 The VLAD taskforce will report back to the government by the end this year, incorporating the findings of the commission of inquiry.

Queensland Organised Crime Commission of Inquiry Established

In February 2015, the newly elected government indicated that it would conduct a Commission of Inquiry into aspects relating to organised crime in Queensland.  On 2 April 2015 by Commission of Inquiry Order (No.1) 2015 of 2 May 2015, a Commission of Inquiry was commenced.  Michael Byrne QC is required to investigate and report in relation to a variety of issues including the extent and nature or organised crime in Queensland as well as the extent to which entities involved in organised crime use money laundering and professional facilitators including lawyers and accountants.

The terms of reference are extremely wide, requiring the Commissioner, Mr Michael Byrne QC to investigate and report in relation to a variety of issues including:

  1. the high threat illicit drug and/or precursor markets, including but not limited to methylamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, drug analogues and new psychoactive substances, 3, 4 – Methylenedioxymethamphetamine and cannabis;
  2. internet or electronic or technology enabled child sexual offending, including the child exploitation material market;
  3. financial crimes – primarily investment and financial market fraud and financial data theft; and
  4. the relationship between organised crime and corruption in Queensland.
  5. the extent to which entities involved in organised crime, use, or provide the services of, activities that enable or facilitate organised crime in Queensland with particular emphasis on the key enablers;

The key enablers are:

  1. money laundering;
  2. cyber and technology-enabled crime;
  3. identity crime;
  4. violence and extortion; and
  5. professional facilitators, including but not limited to accountants, lawyers, financial advisers, real estate agents, IT experts, technical security experts and chemists.

 

The Report is to be presented by 30 October 2015.

Drug Convictions for Offences at Stereosonic

Party DrugsMore than 120 revellers face criminal convictions for drug offences following last weekends Stereosonic concert in Fortitude Valley.

A total of 123 people were arrested and charged with 127 offences including supplying a dangerous drug, possession of dangerous drugs and other associated drug and property related charges.

Drug convictions can significantly impact on employment prospects and prohibit overseas travel. In some circumstances a Court has the power not to record a conviction

It is imperative that anyone appearing in Court for drug charges, request that no conviction is recorded. For help or advice contact our Brisbane office on (07) 3303 0248

Safe Night Out Legislation Amendment Bill

The Safe Night Out Legislation Amendment Bill is part of a Queensland Government strategy aiming to restore responsible behaviour, stamp out alcohol and drug-related violence and ultimately ensure Queensland’s nightlife is safe for all. The Safe Night Out Legislation Amendment Bill is an Act that amends other legislation in order to achieve this objective. This legislation sees an increase in policing powers, and introduces new penalties and compulsory community service orders.

This reform aims to amend the Criminal Code by:

  • Creating a new offence of Unlawful striking causing death (section 302A). This section will be added directly after Murder (section 302) and will also carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. If a person is sentenced under this new section, the Court must make an order that the person must not be released from prison until they have served at least 80% of their sentence or 15 years.
  • Amending the definition of Manslaughter to include unlawful striking causing death.
  • Amending section 340, which deals with serious assaults, by increasing the maximum penalty for assaults on Public Officers. These are assaults which involve: spitting; biting; application of a bodily fluid or faeces; cause bodily harm; or where the offender is, or pretends to be, armed. The maximum penalty is 7 years imprisonment, unless the offender had, or pretended to have a weapon, in which case the maximum penalty is 14 years.
  • Inserting a new chapter, namely 35A, to provide for the circumstances where a person, charged with certain serious offences of violence committed in a public place and while adversely affected, is to be taken to be (in the case of alcohol) or presumed to be (in the case of drugs) adversely affected by an intoxicating substance at the time of the offending.

This reform aims to amend the Penalties and Sentences Act by:

  • Requiring a sentencing Court to impose a community service order, in addition to any other sentence, where an offender commits an offence of violence in a public place and is adversely affected by an intoxicating substance.
  • Ensuring that voluntary intoxication of an offender by alcohol or drugs is not a mitigating factor for a court to have regard to in sentencing the offender.
  • Allowing a court to ban an offender from in and around licensed premises for any period of time including a lifetime ban if the court deems it appropriate. With respect to banning orders, the court may impose any other conditions it considers necessary.

New South Wales also recently introduced new laws sanctioning tougher penalties regarding alcohol and drug fuelled violence. These new laws included a mandatory 8-year imprisonment sentence for anyone that fatally punches someone while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Both Queensland and New South Wales Governments say the reforms are aimed at reducing alcohol and drug related violence and not to stop people from having fun.

Inquiry into Criminal Activity

Coa_QueenslandThe Queensland Government has announced an inquiry into criminal statistics across the state.  The Inquiry, to be conducted by the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee, is set to hear evidence across Queensland with the report to be completed by 31 October 2014.

The Inquiry will examine:

  • the trends and type of criminal activity in Queensland, having regard to available crime statistics and issues of unreported crime
  • the social and economic contributors to crime
  • the impacts of this criminal activity on the community and individuals, including the social and economic impacts
  • the effectiveness (including the cost effectiveness) of crime prevention strategies, including imprisonment, justice reinvestment, early intervention, alternative dispute resolution, and other models used in national and international jurisdictions
  • the experiences of Queenslanders with regard to the criminal justice system, including the experiences of victims of sexual violence and/or domestic violence including their interactions with the Queensland Police Service, the courts, prosecuting authorities, legal and support services and compensation processes
  • possible strategies to increase collaboration and co-operation between various participants in the criminal justice system

Further, the Committee is to recommend measures to curb criminal activity, reduce rates of recidivism, and build a safer community.

In undertaking the inquiry the Committee is to:

  • hold public and private hearings across Queensland
  • ensure such hearings include an examination of available crime statistics for the relevant area or region
  • take public and private submissions

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.

Disqualified Driving Sentence

Gatenby Criminal Lawyers LogoMollie Roper obtained an exceptional result for this mornings disqualified driving sentence.  Our client was charged with one count of disqualified driving and another count of disqualified driving whilst intoxicated.  The second offence was committed in the same week and while on bail for the original offence.

Our client was originally disqualified from driving for a high range drink drive charge.

Generally, for offending of this type a community based order and/or a period of imprisonment would be imposed.

After hearing extensive submissions made by Ms Roper the Magistrate sentenced the client to:

  1. A fine; and
  2. The minimum mandatory periods of disqualification.

While the mandatory disqualification period was still lengthy, the client  stayed out of jail and is able to maintain his employment and family commitments.

Sentencing Ranges

Disqualified driving is a serious offence and attracts a maximum penalty of up to $6,600.00 or imprisonment for up to 18 months.  As part of any disqualified driving sentence the Court must disqualify you from holding or obtaining a driver licence for a period of between two (2) and five (5) years.

As has been discussed earlier in our site, Queensland Magistrates are routinely imposing sentences of imprisonment for repeat disqualified driving offences and in circumstances where there is a circumstance of aggravation, such as drink or drug driving the prospects of imprisonment are increased.

Gatenby Criminal Lawyers provides an initial half hour appointment at no cost and we can provide you with specific advice about your disqualified driving sentence.

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.

 

 

No Smoking in Qld Jails from 5 May 2014.

No Smoking or tobacco products in Qld Jails

With the Queensland government banning tobacco from Qld Jails, the mere possession of tobacco and smoking-related products could see liable to Prosecution under Section 123 of the Corrective Services Act 2006 or proceedings for a breach of discipline.

 From Monday, 5 May 2014 all Queensland Corrective Service facilities will become tobacco and smoke-free.  This will include:

  1.  Tobacco and other smoking-related products becoming prohibited things under Section 20 of the Corrective Services Regulations 2006; and.
  2.  Grounds of a corrective services facility will become smoke-free areas.

Tobacco Free

From Monday, 5 May 2014- prisoners will be prohibited from having in their possession tobacco (including smokeless tobacco products) or other smoking-related products (cigarette lighters, matches, papers, filters etc.). Prisoners in possession of tobacco or other smoking-related products from this date may be liable for Prosecution under Section 123 of the Corrective Services Act 2006 or proceedings for a breach of discipline.

Smoke-Free

From Monday, 5 May 2014- no smoking will be permitted anywhere on the grounds of a corrective services facility.

Smoking Cessation Support Program

Upon reception to a corrective services facility, prisoners will be assessed for a smoking cessation support program (SCSP). Prisoners currently in a corrective services facility may undertake SCSP by nominating with their facility’s Health Centre.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in the form of patches will be provided to eligible prisoners. This will generally be for a period of up to 12 weeks. Prisoners will generally be supplied one week’s supply of NRT at a time.

Inappropriate use of NRT may result in removal from the program. Inappropriate use includes hoarding, selling, trading or giving away free NRT.

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 Traffic Laws and Increased Penalties for Cycle Offences.

New Traffic Laws Introduce Cycling Reforms.

Ciclisti al tourQueensland has new traffic laws following the introductions of the Transport Legislation and Another Regulation Amendment Regulation (No. 1) 2014.  These new traffic laws are primarily aimed at addressing the road safety of cyclists by introducing a new minimum distance of up to 1.5 metres between any vehicle and a cyclist.  The offence is set to carry a maximum penalty of 40 penalty units and the loss of three (3) demerit points.

The new traffic laws follow the Parliamentary Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee  report “A new direction for cycling in Queensland”.  The report, released in November 2013, outlined recommendations designed to improve the interactions between cyclists and other road users.

Safety Reforms.

To increase safety for cyclists, the report  recommended that a minimum overtaking distance should be introduced.  The Committee noted a number of studies in Australia and in other jurisdictions have identified passing too closely (or side-swiping) as a frequent and significant factor in incidents resulting in death or serious injury to cyclists. This amendment regulation introduces a minimum passing distance for motorists passing a cyclist.

This regulation amends the Queensland Road Rules to provide that:

Motorists must leave a minimum distance of 1 metre between their vehicle and any cyclist they are overtaking on a road where the speed limit is 60 km/h or below and at least 1.5 metres where the speed limit is more than 60 km/h.

To facilitate these minimum passing distances, the amendments provide that a driver may straddle lane lines, drive to the right of the centre of the road (including crossing dividing lines) or drive on a painted island or dividing strip that is the same level as the road provided the driver has a clear view of any approaching traffic and it is safe to do so.

A breach of the new minimum passing distance requirement will carry a maximum court penalty of 40 penalty units.

If police issue an infringement notice roadside the Infringement Notice is a fine of three penalty units and three (3) demerit points.  This is a consistent penalty to offences of a similar risk including, for example, disobeying a red traffic light, failing to wear a motorbike helmet and entering a level crossing when a train is approaching.

Infringement Penalties

In its report, the Committee noted that “the current imbalance between cyclists and other vehicle drivers in relation to infringement penalties warrants review”. It commented that there is significant potential for cyclists to endanger other vulnerable road users and do harm to themselves. It recommended that the penalties for road rules offences for cyclists should be increased to the level that applies to motorists where the potential to endanger other road users is greatest (Recommendation 31).

This amendment regulation implements and, for simplicity, extends that recommendation by providing that:

  1. where cyclists currently receive a lower infringement notice fine than motorists for any road rules offence, the fine for cyclists will be increased to the level that applies to motorists; and
  2. where the offence can only be committed by a cyclist and the current infringement notice fine is less than one penalty unit, the fine will be increased to one penalty unit.

Loss of licence.

If you have lost your licence through an accumulation of demerit points and will suffer special hardship as a consequence of these new traffic laws, you may be eligible for a Special Hardship Order.  To find out more about a special hardship order, read on further in the traffic law section of our website, or contact our experienced traffic lawyers for advice.

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.

Life imprisonment for so called “Coward Punches”

Qld criminal Laws

New offence set to attract life imprisonment.

The Government today outlined its new coward punch laws and other increased penalties under its draft ‘Safe Night Out Strategy.  In what seems to be a theme of the current government’s legislative platform, existing charges are to be replicated with newly created offences and penalties increased.  The government has adopted the big stick approach by increasing the maximum penalty for drunken behaviour in an effort to deter outrageous drunken violence.  The problem with this approach is that young, drunken, predominately men, are unlikely to consider the outcome of their actions whilst drunk and accordingly, unlikely to think about the massive penalties the government proposes to roll out.

Coward Punch Laws

The so called ‘coward punch’ deaths will be punishable through a new offence of ‘Unlawful striking causing death’, punishable by a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, with the offender required to serve 80 per cent of their sentence of imprisonment before being able to apply for parole. We look forward to looking at the specifics of the charge to determine where it differs from Manslaughter.

Penalties to rise.

  1. Aggravated serious assaults on public officers, such as ambulance officers, will go up from 7 years to 14 years imprisonment.
  2. On-the-spot fines for causing a public nuisance will go up to $660 or a maximum fine of $2,750 or six months in prison.
  3. On-the-spot fines for refusing to leave licensed premises will go up to $550 or a maximum fine of $5,500.
  4. Penalties for obstructing police will go up to $6,600 or 12 months in prison.
  5. Penalties for using anabolic steroids will be strengthened to make sure they are similar to the heavy penalties that already apply to other dangerous drugs such as methamphetamine and ecstasy.

Key elements:

  1. The establishment of 15 Safe Night Precincts with local boards to safely and effectively manage key entertainment areas across Queensland and continued funding of existing support services
  2. Compulsory alcohol and drug education would be introduced in all Queensland schools from Years 7 to 12
  3. Tougher penalties for people behaving badly or violently around licensed premises including increased on the spot fines for causing a public nuisance, refusing to leave licensed premises and obstructing police
  4. ‘Coward punch’ deaths will be punishable through a new offence of unlawful striking causing death with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and offenders required to serve 80% of their sentence before being able to apply for parole
  5. A 12 month trial of ‘sober safe centres’ in the Brisbane CBD where police can detain severely intoxicated people in a secure, supervised centre for up to eight hours
  6. Empowering police to issue banning orders and ensuring police have the resources to have a presence and ability to respond quickly to alcohol and drug related violence
  7. Stronger and better co-ordinated action to ensure licensees provide a safe environment and comply with liquor licensing rules, including ‘mystery shopper’ style tests
  8. Mandatory ID scanners in venues trading after midnight in ‘Safe Night Precincts’
  9. An awareness campaign, including advertising, to promote clear standards of responsible behaviour for patrons, licensees and police
  10. An extension of the moratorium on decisions about late night trading hours to 31 August 2014 to allow the measures in the action plan to be established and take effect.

To comment on the proposal, follow the link to the survey.

https://www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au/gi/consultation/2004/view.html

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.

Attorney-General to appeal Cowan sentence

Appeal decisionsThe Attorney-General is to appeal the Cowan sentence imposed in the Brisbane Supreme Court.   Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie has instructed the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal the sentence of Brett Peter Cowan, who was convicted of murdering Sunshine Coast teenager Daniel Morcombe in 2003.

The Attorney-General has advised Crown Prosecutors that he is of the view that the non-parole period that was sentence must be appealed because it is manifestly inadequate, is not in line with community expectations and does not set an adequate deterrent.

The sentence imposed by The Honourable Justice R Atkinson in the Supreme Court on 14/3/14 was one of life imprisonment with a non parole period of 20 years.  In imposing her sentence Her Honour accepted the submissions of the Crown Prosecutor and increased the non parole period from the minimum period of 15 years.

This sentence means that Mr Cowan will need to apply for Parole after he has served 20 years.  There is no right to parole and in our view it is unlikely that he would be granted parole, on his first application.

It is very easy to get caught up in the hysteria of particular cases, but Justice Atkinson’s reasons for the sentence imposed were well articulated and will be provided to any future parole board.

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.