Expert evidence of battered women syndrome in New South Wales

Despite being criminalised over forty years ago, domestic violence remains widespread throughout Australian society. As this offence primarily occurs in the domicile and away from the public eye, the Australian legal system has recognise the complex and unique impacts the offending has upon its victims. Following scientific and empirical research, Australia courts have permitted expert opinion evidence to be adduced in criminal trials relating to the impact of domestic violence on the accused. One of the most contentious and notorious examples of this evidence is ‘battered women syndrome’ (BWS). This blog will examine this concept in detail, discussing how it remains vital and relevant in New South Wales’ criminal trials.

Continue reading “Expert evidence of battered women syndrome in New South Wales”

Distinguishing between lawful and unlawful arrests by the police in New South Wales

The Law Enforcement and Police Responsibilities Act 2002 (NSW) (‘LEPRA’) confers on Police the power to arrest persons in the State of New South Wales. In broad terms, an ‘arrest’ is the act of detaining an individual and depriving him/her of their liberty. Whilst civilians can make lawful arrests in certain circumstances, this post deals exclusively with Police powers of arrest. Continue reading “Distinguishing between lawful and unlawful arrests by the police in New South Wales”

Distinguishing between legal and illegal police searches of a person in New South Wales

The Law Enforcement and Police Responsibilities Act 2002 (‘LEPRA’) is the primary legislation for police powers in NSW. This legislation contains various threshold tests and legal concepts that exist to guide police when exercising investigative procedures on a person suspected of committing an offence. This post will examine the legal significance of consent, warrants, and ‘reasonable suspicion’ in the context of police search powers. Also, I will examine the legal safeguards in order to clarify the distinction between a lawful and unlawful search.

Continue reading “Distinguishing between legal and illegal police searches of a person in New South Wales”

Section 138 of the Evidence Act: the power to exclude illegally obtained evidence

Under the Evidence Act s 138 illegally obtained evidence may be admissible. This decision depends on the trial judge’s discretionary assessment of whether ‘desirability of admitting the evidence outweighs the undesirability of admitting it, based on a number of competing factors. The provision for the discretionary power does not define ‘desirability’. Instead, it is interpreted and applied on a case-by-case basis. This post will examine the discretionary power, discussing the operation of common law and statute, and how judicial discretion is necessary to its application.

Continue reading “Section 138 of the Evidence Act: the power to exclude illegally obtained evidence”

Pell v The Queen – unreasonable verdicts and ‘beyond reasonable doubt’

In Pell v The Queen the High Court has unanimously allowed an appeal from the Victorian Court of Appeal’s (VCA) majority decision to reject a conviction appeal.

The High Court held that the jury should have held reasonable doubts about the guilt of the accused.

Continue reading “Pell v The Queen – unreasonable verdicts and ‘beyond reasonable doubt’”