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.

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.