Sentence discounts reforms stall in the Upper House

The Greens in the Upper House of State Parliament have stalled the passage of legislation to significantly reduce sentence discounts available to serious criminal offenders for early guilty pleas.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Greens are refusing to deal with this bill reducing sentence discounts for serious offenders,” said Attorney-General Vickie Chapman.

“While I respect the Legislative Council practice of not proceeding with debate without a clear week from the House of Assembly debateMr Parnell has been provided with copies of all the submissions that he asked for.

“The legislation was introduced into the Lower House on 9 September the 9,so the Greens have had two weeks to consider whether they think serious criminals should be able to receive discounts of up to 40 per cent for pleading guilty early.

The legislation puts the protection of the community at the heart of sentencing laws after the former Labor Government’s discount of sentences for early guilty pleas shifted the balance in favour of serious criminals.

The legislation also requires the courts to consider a number of factors when determining how much a sentence should be reduced to ensure the sentence reflects all the behaviour of the accused associated with the crime. “These include whether the defendant had concealed their crime and, if so, for how long, whether the case against the defendant was overwhelming and where the defendant has disputed the factual basis for sentence and a court has found against them.

Under the proposed reforms criminals convicted of serious indictable offences such as manslaughter, causing death by dangerous driving and rape would receive a discount of:

Up to 25 per cent (reduced from 40 per cent), where the guilty plea is entered within four weeks of the first appearance

Up to 15 per cent (reduced from 30 per cent), where the guilty plea is entered after the first four weeks but on the day of, or before, the committal appearance

Up to ten per cent (reduced from 20 per cent), where the guilty plea is entered from the day after the committal appearance until the defendant is committed to stand trial

Up to five per cent (reduced from 15 per cent), where the guilty plea is entered between when the defendant has been committed to stand trial and immediately after the first arraignment date

Up to five per cent (reduced from ten per cent), where the guilty plea is entered after the first arraignment date but prior to the commencement of the trial where the court is satisfied where there is a good reason to do so.