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Criminal Law, Punishment, and Sentencing in Australia (Research Paper Sample)


This sample was a research paper on criminal law, punishment, and sentencing in Australia. Although Australian courts have the discretion of determining the necessary punishment in criminal cases, parliament has the authority to determine the minimum sentences for certain offences, such as murder, assault, rape, and other violent offenses. This research paper explored the principles and process of mandatory sentencing in Australia and discussed the arguments in favor and against the minimum sentences. It also provided alternatives to mandatory sentencing in Australia.


Criminal Law, Punishment, and Sentencing
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TABLE OF CONTENTSIntroduction3Legal concepts, principles, and processes 4Stakeholder viewpoints6 Arguments for mandatory sentencing6 Arguments against mandatory sentencing8Alternatives to mandatory sentencing10Conclusion and recommendations……………………………..…………………...……………10References……………………………..…………………………………………………………12
Criminal Law, Punishment, and Sentencing
1.0 Introduction
Mandatory sentencing was first introduced in Australia in Queensland, but has so far been adopted by all Australian states. In Australia, the federal, state and parliament share the responsibility for sentencing. The principle of maximum penalty allows the courts to determine the necessary punishment given the circumstances of the case. However, Parliament has the authority to assert its power over sentencing by setting the minimum or fixed penalty for certain offences. In Queensland, mandatory sentencing rules stipulate that third time offenders face a minimum imprisonment of twelve months (Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council, 2018). In recent years, mandatory sentencing has been extended to more offences including murder, supply or possession of firearms, drunk driving, graffiti, and evasion of the police. This is partly attributable to dissatisfaction with the conventional sentencing system and the desire for tougher sentences.
Australia’s traditional justice system gives the courts a broad disposition for sentencing offenders. According to a nationwide survey on the public opinion towards sentencing, the majority of Australians are not content with the court system of sentencing. This is backed up by the media, which has continuously depicted the court system as too lenient in imposing sentences and the justice system is, therefore, ineffective in reducing crime. Thus, the introduction of a mandatory sentencing regime or automatic imprisonment is a move by lawmakers to prevent judges from making judgements considered as too soft on repeat offenders (Freiberg, 2011). It also encompasses presumptive minimum sentences which carry a minimum penalty for certain offenses unless the court establishes and justifies exceptional circumstances, in accordance with the facts of the case and relevant legislation. This paper will discuss the principles and processes of mandatory sentencing, and will analyze two different stakeholder perceptions and provide a recommendation for the most appropriate alternative.
2.0 Legal Concepts, Principles, and Processes
Mandatory sentencing was introduced in the 1990s as a mechanism for controlling the rising rates of crime. The law contained minimum sentences for property crime. First time offenders were handed a 14-day imprisonment, 90 days for the “second strike” and 12 months for the “third strike”. Overtime, mandatory sentencing has been extended to other crimes, such as burglary, assault on a police officer, and murder, rape, child sex offenses, and serious violent offenses (Freiberg, 2011).
Since 1988, crime rates have risen by over 60% and research suggests that this phenomenon is attributable to the growth in population and socio-economic changes in society (Freiberg, 2011). Many Queensland residents have suggested draconian solutions to control crime. Furthermore, there has been increased pressure on the criminal justice system including the courts, the police, and prisons. The Queensland Police Service have crucial role to play in reducing crime. However, traditionally, the police have been incident-driven and reactive instead of instituting crime prevention measures. Rapid response, criminal investigation, or increasing the police numbers is not an effective way of reducing crime. Crime control is only 

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