find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Advisory council suggests shake-up to Vic's sentencing

Advisory council suggests shake-up to Vic's sentencing

The Sentencing Advisory Council has made key recommendations for sentencing guidance in Victoria, including a suite of reforms to the guideline judgment scheme to replace baseline sentencing.

Last week the Sentencing Advisory Council released a comprehensive report, Sentencing Guidance in Victoria, containing recommendations for sentencing guidance in the state in response to terms of reference received from the Attorney-General on 24 November 2015.

"The reforms to sentencing recommended in this report are intended to promote consistency of approach in sentencing, and promote public confidence in the criminal justice system," Emeritus Professor Arie Freiberg, chair of the Sentencing Advisory Council, said.

"Many past changes have failed to do either. The report therefore calls for a number of other reforms that will make the Victorian sentencing system more consistent, clear, and coherent."

The report made three key recommendations, firstly the introduction of a suite of reforms to the guideline judgment scheme to replace baseline sentencing, which has been repealed.

The enhanced scheme is intended to facilitate greater use of guideline judgments, which can provide comprehensive guidance on the sentencing of all offences and offence categories, including offences sentenced in the higher courts or the Magistrates’ Court.

"The Council’s preferred model of sentencing guidance – in the form of an enhanced guideline judgment scheme – will create an evolving, inclusive, evidence-based, and judge-led process that can respond to changing community attitudes and legislative reforms," Professor Freiberg said.

Secondly, the Council recommends that numerical guidance on the appropriate level or range of sentences for an offence or offence category should be permitted within a guideline judgment.

This would allow the Court of Appeal to provide guidance on what sentences would be adequate, not simply to declare that sentencing practices are inadequate.

Thirdly, the Council recommends that, in particular circumstances, the Attorney-General should have the power to apply for a guideline judgment, without the need for an appeal case.

This power is intended to overcome the problem, for some offences, of sentencing judges being constrained by inadequate current sentencing practices and the Court of Appeal not having the opportunity to provide guidance on such practices, in the absence of a suitable appeal case.

The report calls for a number of other reforms that will make the Victorian sentencing system more transparent. These include the online publication of all sentencing remarks, a review of the sentencing schemes under the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic), and further research on public opinion on sentencing.

The Council recommends against the introduction of jury sentencing on the basis of numerous and significant practical and procedural issues.

Second choice

The report also contains recommendations on a ‘standard sentence scheme’, although it is not the Council’s preferred option.

Under the scheme, parliament fixes a ‘standard’ sentence that represents the sentence for a charge of an offence in the middle of the range of seriousness. This standard sentence would operate as a ‘guidepost’ to offence seriousness, and a court would be required to consider this new guidepost when sentencing.

If a standard sentence scheme is adopted, the Council recommends that it should only apply to offences for which there is evidence of significant problems that can be addressed by this form of sentencing guidance, and that the scheme should be combined with an enhanced guideline judgment scheme.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Advisory council suggests shake-up to Vic's sentencing
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice, ALA, right-to-die law
06:04
‘Right-to-die’ laws would be a relief for terminally ill: ALA
The passage of an assisted dying bill through the lower house of Victorian Parliament has been haile...
Diversity
06:00
Diversity top of agenda for future WA Law Society president
The advancement of diversity in the Western Australian legal profession will be one of the key items...
Jetski
Oct 23 2017
How to fail well
The legal profession is due for an attitude adjustment when it comes to perceived failures, accordin...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...