Mandatory sentencing has always been actively contested and denounced for years by bodies such as the Queensland Law Society, the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council as well as other civil libertarian associations throughout the state.
|Mandatory sentences do not work.|
Magistrates and Judges, although bound by legislation, are usually given a wide discretion to determine the appropriate penalty for various offences. The legislation generally prescribes minimum and maximum penalties that ought be imposed.
One of the cornerstones of a just and fair judicial system, is the discretion afforded to our courts in sentencing offenders. There is no such thing as a “standard offence”. The circumstances of each offence, like the personal circumstances and antecedents of an offender are almost never the same. A judicial discretion takes these matters into account.
“All mandatory sentencing does is increase the prison population at substantial additional cost with no benefit to the community. It has been proved to be unreasonable and counter-productive in the past in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.”Qld Law Society President John de Groot.
Generally, a sentencing ranges are established through precedent and the decisions of the superior courts (District, Supreme, Court of Appeal and ultimately High Court). An aggrieved party, either the Attorney General or the convicted person, can appeal the decision based upon either the inadequacy of the sentence or its excessive term.
Sentences imposed by the superior courts generally bind both Magistrates and Judges, as they must show parity across the sentencing range with their judicial colleagues. Nevertheless, sentencing judges still hold the ultimate discretion in deciding what the appropriate sentence range is having regard to the circumstances and nature of the offence and the offender.
Gatenby Criminal Lawyers is opposed to any mandatory sentences either in respect of periods of imprisonment, fines to be imposed or disqualification periods. It is our view that all matters turn on the merit of the facts and the circumstances of the offender. The “one sentence suits all” is misguided and leads to unfairness and prejudice.
If you have been charged with an offence that carries a mandatory sentence, call Gatenby Criminal Lawyers now on (07) 55800 120 and speak with one of our experienced criminal solicitors. The first consultation is free. We may be able to highlight a defence to the charge or alternatively negotiate an alternate charge not having a mandatory sentence.