23 Mar

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.


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