26 September 2023

Past offenders to face today’s law

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Offenders convicted of historical offences are be sentenced according to current sentencing patterns and practices under a proposed new law change in the State Parliament.

Introducing the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Amendment Bill 2022, Attorney General Mark Speakman said the Bill expanded on reforms in 2018 which ensured that child sex offenders were sentenced according to contemporary practices as recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Mr Speakman said the Bill would generally require NSW Courts to apply current sentencing practices to perpetrators of all crimes, regardless of when those crimes were committed.

“Currently, Courts must apply the sentencing patterns and practices that were in place at the time an offence was committed, instead of at the time of sentencing, except in cases of child sexual abuse,” Mr Speakman said.

“Those historical patterns don’t always reflect current community standards or expectations of our justice system.”

He said the Bill did not change existing maximum penalties or standard non-parole periods.

Mr Speakman said it would also address a drafting gap in relation to Intensive Correction Orders in the Crimes (Sentencing Legislation) Amendment (Intensive Correction Orders) Act 2010.

“That drafting had excluded certain child and adult sexual offences from Intensive Correction Orders, but not if they had occurred before 2000,” the Attorney General said.

“[The] Bill will ensure that this exclusion will apply regardless of when the offence was committed or under what provision it is charged,” he said.

“Both sets of amendments will ensure that sentences for historical offences are consistent with current community standards, that they reflect community expectations, and that courts are not obliged to perpetuate past sentencing errors or to maintain historically inadequate sentencing patterns,” Mr Speakman said.

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