James Howell Comments: NSW Government Backdown on ‘One Punch Laws’

It is as if by some miracle the NSW Premier has announced that the proposed ‘one punch’ mandatory sentencing laws have been refined in a move to minimise disproportionate and unfair sentencing for relatively minor offences. Image
The Premier announced on Wednesday that anyone convicted of the more serious offences of reckless grievous bodily harm or wounding a member of the public or a police officer while intoxicated can still expect a minimum sentence of three to five years and a maximum penalty of up to 16 years. However, those convicted in relation to other ‘less serious’ offences that the government had originally proposed a mandatory sentence for (four years for affray, two years for assault causing bodily harm and two years for assaulting a police officer) would now not be handed down a mandatory sentence. 
The changes will ensure that first time offenders (a person without a criminal record) who push or touch a police officer whilst intoxicated do not spend a minimum of two years in prison, a move that one would suspect most members of the public would agree with. 
The new laws still leave much to be desired, in particular the issue of defining if someone is drunk or intoxicated. The government sought to clarify its definition of intoxication to include visible signs such as slurred speech or an inability to walk a straight line.
After such a heavy handed and swift proposal of the new laws it would appear that the Premier has been soundly advised that the practical ramifications of headline grabbing proposals might cause more headaches than they are worth.
James Howell
Senior Associate

James Howell Comments: Another Australian entangled in the Indonesian Judicial System

Another Australian entangled in the Indonesian Judicial SystemImage

No sooner had Australia’s most notorious drug courier Shappelle Corby been released from Kerobokan prison another Australian has been arrested in Indonesia for the possession (and potentially supply) of illicit substances.
Thirty seven year old Sydney Woman Leeza Ormsby was arrested whist in Bali for the possession of a Marijuana cigarette. Police later raided the compound she was staying in and found 132.2 grams of Methamphetamine and 26.06 grams of Hashish.
Ms Ormsby has denied any knowledge of the substances, apart from the Marijuana cigarette and now faces an anxious wait whilst authorities determine what charges they will lay against the her. Even if found guilty of possession of the Marijuana cigarette she could still face up to twenty years in prison due to Indonesia’s strict drug laws.
In an all too familiar story to that of Shappelle Corby’s we are left wondering why Australian’s (and other foreigners) continue to try to flaunt a system that shows very little mercy. What are your thoughts on this story?
James Howell
Senior Associate

Timothy Wilson Comments: Increased Fines For The Use Offensive Language

ImageIn the previous weeks the NSW government has increased the on the spot fines for the use of swearing in a public place to up to $500.00. This is around triple what it used to be, and is five times the equivalent in the state of Queensland.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said the increased fine was “a sufficient amount to act as a deterrent for this unacceptable behaviour”.

There is no legislative list or guideline as to what is offensive language. Police officers must use their discretion in the choice to fine to someone.

NSW Law Reform Commission in 2012, suggested abolishing offensive language offences because the test for what was considered offensive was “subjective and difficult for an enforcement officer to determine”, the conduct caused “relatively minimal harm” and the fines were inconsistent because they depended on where the offence took place.

What do you think about the increase of these fines? Is it a good thing or should these offences be abolished? Have your say below.

Read the full story here: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/increased-fines-for-offensive-language-leave-bad-taste-in-mouths-of-critics-20140206-324hv.html#ixzz2t5DuEBIV





Timothy Wilson
Law Clerk


Image“And as your punishment for your dread crime, you shall serve the balance of your parole in infamous, horrible and turgid Bali. May whatever God you believe in have mercy on your soul.”

– Said no-one, ever.