Justice Legislation Amendment (Committals and Guilty Pleas) Act 2017: The Crash Course

By Sophie Coulson

Introduction

The Justice Legislation Amendment (Committals and Guilty Pleas) Act 2017 (“The Act”) changes the committal process as we currently know it and amends the sentencing discounts available for guilty pleas. It is expected to commence on 30 April 2018.

This post is not a comprehensive guide to the new legislation. It is intended to be a summary for the time poor practitioner. The legislation and Second Reading Speech of Attorney General, Mark Speakman, should be considered in full.

The Act amends committal procedures currently set out in Part 3 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 for proceedings commenced after the new legislation commences. The role of the Magistrate shifts from assessing the sufficiency of the prosecution evidence to facilitating effective negotiations between the parties earlier in the court process. The Act retains the statutory basis to apply to cross-examine prosecution witnesses [ss.82 to 92]. The same tests apply in considering applications made pursuant to the current sections 91 and 93 Criminal Procedure Act (to be replaced by sections 82 to 84).

The Act also amends the Crimes Sentencing Procedure Act 1999 (“CSPA”) introducing mandatory caps on sentencing discounts given by Judges for the utilitarian benefit of a guilty plea.

The new scheme follows the report of the NSW Law Reform Commission titled “Encouraging Appropriate Early Guilty Pleas”. The Act will, eventually, work alongside two associated bills, being the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Amendment (Sentencing Options) Bill 2017 and the Crimes (High Risk Offenders) Amendment Bill 2017.

Continue reading “Justice Legislation Amendment (Committals and Guilty Pleas) Act 2017: The Crash Course”

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Early Guilty Plea Reforms

By Sophie Coulson

Introduction

The Attorney-General announced last month that the ‘Early Appropriate Guilty Plea’ (“EAGP”) Reforms proposed by the Law Reform Commission (“LRC”) will be implemented in early 2018. This post outlines the proposed changes and the motivation for each change.

In November 2014, the LRC published a report titled ‘Encouraging Appropriate Early Guilty Pleas’. The report made a number of proposals addressing the ever increasing delays in our higher courts. Submissions were made to the LRC by various agencies, all differing in views on the proposed changes. The one thing that they could all agree on was that something needed to be done to address the increasing delays and backlogs. Continue reading “Early Guilty Plea Reforms”