Criminal Law Overhaul Continues

The Queensland Government has continued its overhaul of Queensland criminal law, adding to an already substantive lists of changes.

The changes, announced by the Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie last Thursday are wide ranging and include for the most part an increase in penalties to offenders, but also some attempts to modernise the criminal court process. Overall 74 amendments are contained in the Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2014, which consists of a total of 58 pages.

The amendments can be broadly put into 5 categories, and a summary is listed below. However this is not an exhaustive list of all amendments made by the Bill.

Changes to Sex Offender Laws and Offences of a Sexual Nature

The amendments include:

  1. Mandatory imprisonment of one year for the removal of a GPS monitoring bracelet by a sex offender. A maximum penalty of 5 years exists for the offence;
  2. An increase to the maximum penalty for the procurement of a child or a person with a mental impairment for prostitution to a maximum of 20 years. Previously the maximum for this offence was 14 years; and
  3. Where a person is caught attempting to groom a child, they may be listed as a Dangerous Offender by the court even where the child in question did not exist (for example, the child may have been a police officer pretending to be a child).

Changes to Animal Cruelty

The amendments include:

  1. The creation of a new offence, serious animal cruelty will carry a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment. The offence will apply where a person who, with the intention of inflicting severe pain or suffering, unlawfully kills, causes serious injury to, or prolongs the suffering of, an animal.

Match Fixing

The amendments include:

  1. The creation of the new offences
    1. Engaging in match-fixing conduct;
    2. Facilitating match-fixing conduct or match fixing arrangement;
    3. Offering or giving benefit, or causing or threatening detriment, to engage in match-fixing conduct or match-fixing arrangement;
    4. Using or disclosing knowledge of match-fixing conduct or match fixing arrangement for betting;
    5. Encouraging persons not to disclose match-fixing conduct or match-fixing arrangement;
    6. Using or disclosing inside knowledge for betting.
  2. Each offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. It is not material to a matter the success of a person in affecting the outcome of an event.

Technological and Procedural Reform

Amendments include:

  1. The ability for a defendant to enter a plea of guilty for a minor offence via an online service;
  2. The establishment of a presumption that an expert witness be able to give evidence via a video link. This presumption may be overridden by the court;
  3. Appeal power of the Attorney-General to include simple offences disposed of summarily.

Youth Justice Act and Boot Camps

Amendments include:

  1. Courts when sentencing a child will be able to be informed as to whether the child is subject to the child protection system;
  2. Boot camps will be able to be staffed by detention centre employees. Detention centre employees may provide services to maintain good order and discipline at the centre.

Double Jeopardy

“A person can not be twice punished… for the same act or omission…” 

Double jeopardy is a fundamental and integral part of our legal system. It prevents a person from being tried or convicted more than once for the same act. A recent case in the Supreme Court of Appeals highlights the practical application of this concept.

In the case of R v Dibble, Mr. Dibble was charged and convicted for committing a public nuisance, in which police observed him swinging haymaker style punches as the complainant. As a result of which, the complainant suffered significant facial injuries. Mr. Dibble was sentenced in the Magistrates Court to pay a fine of $400 after he entered a plea of guilty. No conviction was recorded.

More than a year after the judgment was handed down, police charged Mr. Dibble with causing grievous bodily harm. The new charge was the result of the police having received a medical opinion about the injuries sustained.

Mr. Dibble fought these charges on the basis that they related to, and relied upon acts that he had already been punished for.

The Crown however sought to differentiate the acts required for a public nuisance charge from a charge of grievous bodily harm. Essentially arguing that a public nuisance charge did not require the blows to land and as such the landing of blows was not an act or omission that Mr. Dibble was punished for in his original sentence.

The Crown therefore proposed that Mr. Dibble should be able to be charged with grievous bodily harm. As this charge relates and relies upon the landing of the blows, an act that the Crown contends was unpunished in the previous charge.

In the Supreme Court of Appeal, Fraser, Gotterson JJA, and Boddice J indicated that the defining of the punishable act in a conviction relies heavily upon how the original charge was particularised. In this case, the original charge made explicit and clear mention of multiple punches landing on the complainant, the conviction also indicates clearly that the defendant was convicted on the basis of these actions.

The punishable act or omission in question therefore included the punches that landed on the complainant. As such, Mr. Dibble was unable to be charged a second time with the more serious offence of grievous bodily harm.

Bosscher Lawyers has over 100 years of collective experience in the field of criminal law. If you have a criminal law problem, our Brisbane Criminal Lawyers are here to help. Call Bosscher Lawyers on 1300 729 316.

By Alison Campbell

Victorian Friends Jailed In Queensland Whilst Getting Ice Cream

The Danger of Association

Queensland’s anti-bikie laws have been utilised to arrest, detain and jail 5 Victorian men who were on holiday with their families in Queensland.

The men were set for a 10-day holiday at the Gold Coast when they were stopped and questioned by police whilst walking along the beach in order to purchase ice creams on Friday.

On Sunday the men were arrested and charged over alleged previous associations with Victorian chapters of the Hells Angels and the Comancheros. Two of the men are alleged to be full members of the Hells Angels, whilst it is alleged a third man is a prospect. The other two men are alleged to have had past associations with the Comancheros.

The men have been charged with being participants in a criminal organisation under section 60A, an offence that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of six months imprisonment, with a maximum sentence of three years.

The men will be placed in the new bikie maximum-security jail until a bail hearing or trial.

The case will be mentioned on the 17th of February.

Bosscher Lawyers offers expert legal advice with 100 years of collective experience in the field of criminal law. Our Criminal Lawyers Brisbane have literally represented thousands of Australians in criminal law matters. If you have been charged or arrested, or are going to be charged or arrested, call Bosscher Lawyers on 1300 729 316.

The Presumption of Innocence

We think it prudent to reissue this piece due to the aggressive stance that some people have taken over recent criminal law matters of which Bosscher Lawyers are involved

The presumption of innocence is the cornerstone upon which our criminal justice system is founded. We have all heard the presumption of innocence expressed in the maxim “innocent until proven guilty”. I much prefer the maxim “innocent unless found guilty”.

The expression innocent until proven guilty has a connotation of inevitability about it. That inevitability works to erode the presumption.

With the explosion of social networking and the ease of access to news locally, nationally and internationally the community is exposed every day to a wealth of information and material which even as soon as five years ago was not available. One of the biggest issues encountered in the face of such ease of access is that the media is saturated with stories before the Police have concluded their investigations for example. The result is that, through no fault of the media, people have consumed only those facts which are revealed at a particular time and the danger is then that the community generally starts to work on that information to make decisions. This is where we witness the erosion of the presumption of innocence.

The news media should not be censored and should not be constrained – but people must keep in the forefront of their minds the fact that unless and until they know all of the facts and evidence in relation to a particular matter that they cannot possibly form a proper opinion on a reported criminal matter. The presumption of innocence must be protected closely.

The presumption of innocence operates to protect all of us.

Bosscher Lawyers Welcome Anna Smith

Bosscher Lawyers’ Legal Practice Director, Alison Campbell has welcomed Anna Smith to the the growing team of criminal lawyers.

“Anna has in excess of 14 years experience in criminal law and advocacy in both New South Wales and Queensland. She brings to our firm extensive knowledge of criminal law from law enforcement and policing through to prosecution and defence,” Ms Campbell said.

“Bosscher Lawyers is dedicated to providing clients with the very best criminal law expertise and given Anna’s wealth of experience, she is an excellent fit within our firm.”

Anna can help with all criminal law matters on the Sunshine Coast.