Sentencing in Victoria 2015

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Community Corrections Orders – “a radical new sentencing option”

Guideline Judgment of the Court of Appeal

Boulton v. the Queen [2014] VSCA 342

Slades and Parsons criminal lawyers keep abreast of all relevant changes in legislation and the decisions of the Court of Appeal which relate to criminal law. This enables us to prepare your case in a way that ensures you the best possible outcome.

Over the past twelve months there have been several important changes in the area of sentencing for the more serious offences. These have included amendments to the Sentencing Act to introduce baseline sentences and to abolish suspended sentences and the handing down of Victoria’s first Guideline Judgment of the Court of Appeal. Published on the 22nd December 2014, this judgment provides assistance to judges, magistrates and lawyers when sentencing offenders on more serious matters.

The Court of Appeal noted that when your legal representative suggests the option of a Community Correction Order as an appropriate sentencing disposition, it is not enough to simply recite the offender’s personal circumstances. Rather your legal representative should pay attention to the formulation of conditions that will address the particular needs of the person falling to be sentenced and the causes of offending so as to promote the necessary changes required to reduce the risk of re-offending.

Some observations of the court in this landmark judgment are as follows:

“..the CCO can be used to rehabilitate and punish simultaneously. This significantly diminishes the conflict between sentencing purposes, particularly acute in relation to young offenders. No longer will the court be placed in the position of having to give less weight to denunciation, or specific or general deterrence, in order to promote the young offender’s rehabilitation. Rather, the court will be able to fashion a CCO which adequately achieves all of those purposes”.

“..a CCO may be suitable even in cases of relatively serious offences which might previously have attracted a medium term of imprisonment (such as, for example, aggravated burglary, intentionally causing serious injury, some forms of sexual offences involving minors, some kinds of rape and some categories of homicide). The sentencing judge may find that, in view of the objective gravity of the conduct and the personal circumstances of the offender, a properly-conditioned CCO of lengthy duration is capable of satisfying the requirements of proportionality, parsimony and just punishment, while affording the best prospects for rehabilitation”.

“.. the CCO is intended to be available in serious cases where an offender may be at risk of receiving an immediate custodial sentence but the court considers that immediate custody is not necessary to fulfill the statutory purposes of sentencing given the range of options provided by a CCO.”

For the full decision of the case follow the link below:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VSCA/2014/342.html

Remember that it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as you have been charged with any offence as early preparation will ensure a better outcome. Call our Criminal Law specialists who are happy to give you further advice.