New laws preventing courts from using community correction orders (CCOs) as a sentencing option for the most serious crimes, such as rape and murder, come into force today.
Attorney-General Martin Pakula introduced the new laws in October last year to better align sentencing with community expectations.
The Sentencing (Community Correction Order) and Other Acts Amendment Act 2016 will tighten the sentencing regime which was broadened under the former Liberal Government and may have resulted in CCOs being imposed in cases where a term of imprisonment would have been more appropriate.
The new laws will apply to crimes committed from today and will prevent the use of CCOs and other non-custodial orders for ten serious category 1 offences, including:
- persistent sexual abuse of a child under the age of 16
- sexual penetration of a child under the age of 12
- incest (where the victim is under 18)
- causing serious injury intentionally in circumstances of gross violence
- causing serious injury recklessly in circumstances of gross violence
- rape by compelling sexual penetration
- trafficking a large commercial quantity of a drug of dependence
- cultivating a large commercial quantity of a drug of dependence.
CCOs and other non-custodial orders are now no longer permitted for category 2 offences except where special reasons apply, for example if the offender is suffering from impaired mental functioning. Category 2 offences include manslaughter, child homicide, kidnapping and intentionally causing serious injury.
From today, the length of imprisonment that can be combined with a CCO has been halved from two years to one year or less. A non-parole period cannot be fixed as part of a combined order, meaning offenders must serve their full term of imprisonment before beginning their CCO.
The maximum length that a CCO can now be imposed is five years. Previously a CCO could be imposed for up to the maximum term of imprisonment for the relevant offence.
Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Martin Pakula
“Our laws will stop the most serious offenders from getting community correction orders – and that’s what the community expects.”
“CCOs are no longer a sentencing option for cases including rape, child sexual abuse and commercial drug trafficking. The only appropriate sentence for these serious crimes is a prison sentence.”