find the latest legal job
Academic Dean and Head of School of the TC Beirne School of Law
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· An outstanding opportunity · Provide educational, research and organisational leadership
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Arncliffe NSW 2205
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Sydney NSW 2000
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
4+ PAE Commercial Lawyer - Contract Role (Maternity cover)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· 4+ years PAE · End-to-end deal carriage
View details
Lawyer slams new court levy

Lawyer slams new court levy

A Queensland lawyer says the state Government's new offender levy will create a 'dangerous precedent' to treat courts as an ATM cash machine.

A Queensland lawyer says the state Government's new offender levy will create a "dangerous precedent" to treat courts as an ATM cash machine.

The Queensland Government has introduced a levy to be applied to any adult offender sentenced in a Queensland Court from 21 August, 2012. The Government said the purpose of the levy is to help pay for the cost of law enforcement and administration.

The levy, which is not an order of the court and does not form part of any sentence imposed by a judge or magistrate, is to be paid on each sentencing event whether or not a conviction is recorded. The offender is not able to appeal the imposition of the levy, however the levy will be removed if all convictions relating to the sentencing event are overturned on appeal.

Criminal defence lawyer Bill Potts said the Budget measure, which he said imposes a $100 or $300 fee on people pleading guilty or found guilty of a range of offences, should be feared as it was a pure revenue-raising measure and thus vulnerable to increases at any time at the Government’s whim.

“There’s no suggestion the money will be used for rehabilitation programmes or drug treatment resources. It’s just a new variation of a cash grab and the fear is the courts will become a target every time the Government wants to rake in some more money.”

Potts, a director of criminal law firm Potts Lawyers, said there was a mandatory penalty aspect to the offender fee he found disquieting. As well as any court-imposed penalty there was an additional fine imposed, regardless of whether the person incurring the fee had any ability to pay it.

The $100 levy will apply to people found guilty in the Magistrate’s Court and the $300 levy will apply to those found guilty in the Supreme and District Courts. The levy will still apply regardless of whether a conviction is recorded.

“Quite often people appearing before the courts are cash-poor but if they don’t pay this levy it is referred to the State Penalties Enforcement Registry which takes a very hardline attitude toward non-payment of fines.

“Failure to pay the extra fine could see the person facing stiffer fines or even jail time,” Potts said.

He urged Premier Campbell Newman and Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie to reconsider the offender levy, or at least give judges some discretion on imposing it.

“The criminal justice system should not be treated as a user pays commercial entity. It is a service created to keep order for society, it’s not designed as a revenue generating machine,” he said.

Potts said those incurring the extra penalty would include people on various traffic offences.

“We’re not talking hard line career criminals. This levy will hit some of the most vulnerable or people who through a momentary lapse find themselves being prosecuted. There is a trend by the political machine to demonise anyone coming before the courts as an excuse to empty their wallet.

“They excuse it as a ‘get tough on crime’ stance but this levy will not reduce crime in any way, it’s just a cash grab,” Potts said.

“The real fear is now they have started there’s a risk the State will increase the offender levy or create new fees every time they want to generate some cash. The Courts become just a big ATM machine. This is wrong and the whole idea should be urgently reconsidered,” Potts said.

Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

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

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Lawyer slams new court levy
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Warning
Jan 18 2018
Lawyer highlights ‘unintended consequences’ on SSM estate planning
A succession lawyer has warned that the right for same-sex couples to legally marry could have a sub...
drug rehabilitation services available in rural and remote communities
Jan 18 2018
ALS survey shines spotlight on insufficient rehabilitation services
A new survey posted by the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) has revealed an alarming insight into ...
Scales of Justice
Jan 17 2018
Lawyers lash out over latest Dutton attack
A number of legal bodies have condemned federal home affairs minister Peter Dutton’s latest commen...
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 & ...