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Law Institute welcomes abolition of baseline sentencing

Law Institute welcomes abolition of baseline sentencing

By LIV Media

Advocacy Courts Legislation Sentencing 

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The LIV welcomes the abolition of baseline sentencing by the Victorian government.

We note that a new ‘standard sentence scheme’ will be introduced to increase sentences for 12 of the state's most serious crimes including murder, rape and sexual offences involving children.

A standard sentence will represent the mid-point of seriousness for specific offences and be calculated at 40 per cent of the maximum penalty.

For example, the maximum sentence for the sexual penetration of a child under 12 is 25 years imprisonment, making the standard sentence for that offence 10 years imprisonment.

Courts will be required to consider standard sentencing as well as other relevant factors in sentencing and be asked to provide reasons for departures from standard sentence lengths.

The government asked the Sentencing Advisory Council to provide advice on sentencing laws following a ruling by the Court of Appeal in November last year that the baseline sentence provisions introduced in 2014 were “incapable of being given any practical operation”.

“The LIV recognises that the gravity of any criminal offence should be assessed according to both the degree of harm caused and the culpability of the offender,” said Andrew Halphen, co-chair of the LIV Criminal Law Section.

“This involves an assessment of the state of mind of the offender and of the severity of the harm caused by the offender. A standard sentence for any particular criminal offence, which operates as a legislative guide for sentencers and the community, should reflect this assessment of gravity. It should also provide for the entire range of conduct and harm that comes within the offence.”

The LIV issued a submission to the Sentencing Advisory Council stating that judges are required to make an assessment of the offender’s moral culpability. This is a nuanced task which is vitally important to an offender receiving the appropriate sentence.

“We commend the government for recognising community expectations that sentencing should be consistent, but urge the government to continue to recognise that the courts also need the ability to consider each individual case on its merits.” Mr Halphen said.

For further information regarding this media release please contact the
LIV Media Department

T: 03 9607 9373
E: media@liv.asn.au


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