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LIV opposes mandatory sentences, judicial officers must retain discretion

LIV opposes mandatory sentences, judicial officers must retain discretion

By LIV Media

Courts Criminal Procedure Sentencing 

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The Law Institute of Victoria opposes mandatory sentences and believes Victoria’s magistrates and judges must retain discretion when it comes to sentencing, adding the “special reasons exception” must be retained for people with serious mental health issues.

The LIV strongly condemns any assault on Victoria’s emergency workers, prison officers and health workers in Victoria’s hospital departments and agrees that they need protection.

However, it is important that each case is treated individually. LIV president Belinda Wilson said: “Everyone deserves the right to be safe in their work environment, however, Victoria can’t take a ‘one size fits all’ approach around attacks on emergency workers. Every serious assault case will be different. There are often serious mental health issues involved in these vicious assaults on emergency workers. These mental health issues must be taken into account in each case.

The state government is investing more than $700 million from the state budget to tackle mental health issues in our community. The LIV believes the government must recognise that there are often mental health issues at the centre of serious attacks on emergency workers and ensure that there is discretion when it comes to dealing with these people in our courts. These people need urgent help and medical treatment and the LIV hopes the government’s approach and commitment to mental health initiatives is not impacted by its desire to impose mandatory sentences in cases involving people assaulting emergency workers.  

“Victoria’s magistrates and judges must have discretion when it comes to sentencing and have the flexibility to deal with every case on an individual basis,” Ms Wilson said.

The state government is proposing that assaults on emergency service workers be treated as a category one offence, the same as murder and rape.

The LIV seriously questions that these assaults should be in the same category as murder and rape.

The LIV and its Criminal Law Executive Committee will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Attorney General to discuss and stress the need for magistrates and judges to have discretion in sentencing.


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