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My legal matter concerning an application for a Domestic Violence Order was managed by Mr Thomas Allen. I am grateful for the outcome he obtained. Without Mr Allen and his ongoing support, I would be certain of a different result. It has been an extremely stressful period. Mr Allen’s astute ability to liaise on my behalf and his expertise was invaluable and for which I am grateful as I am now able to move forward. Thanking you
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Armstrong Legal and specifically Mr Thomas Allen for representing me in my recent case. At the outset, I would like to thank Mr Allen for the very professional delivery of his legal service. From the first time that I met Mr Allen, I was very impressed with his demeanour and delivery as he made me feel at ease knowing the severity of my case. Mr Allen not only gave me the possible positive outcomes of the case but also the realisation of the worst-case scenario as far as sentencing goes. … I will certainly be recommending Armstrong Legal to any of my friends or family needing representation in criminal matters. Thank you so very much.
Thank you for your representation and help. Fingers crossed for the next step and parole. I just want to say that from the first phone call to your office, your service has been outstanding and have put my mind at ease. I am glad I picked your number to ring.
Thank you Armstrong Legal, the lawyers that have helped over the past 3 years but more importantly, thank you to Thomas Allen for the major part you and Mr Buckland played. Cannot thank you enough. Cheers.
Hi all. I would like to thank Ms Lisa Riley for all her help with my legal issues this past month. It was the most harrowing experience of my life and thanks to her expertise, professionalism and knowledge of the law, I came out almost unscathed. I have no hesitation in recommending Lisa Riley and Armstrong Legal if you need help. The service is amazing and the cost was very minimal for the great outcome. Thank you Lisa for helping me in the most difficult time.
I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. My whole life I was thrown away, you made me feel like I did mean something. I could not have asked for a better lawyer. Your compassion and love for your job is inspiring. Your upfront and honesty were muchly appreciated, you are a beautiful person. Thank you for not giving up on me and thank you for all the work you put in. I wish you all the best for the future and I will be recommending you to everyone I know. You're amazing!!!!
I just wanted to thank you for representing me on Monday, I was overjoyed & relieved with the outcome. I don’t think it could have gone any better. All the best, I hope you got to celebrate this one instead after work, you forever made a difference in my life.
I know I thanked you before we parted company but please allow me to reiterate in writing my sincere deepest thanks for defending me in court today. … Armstrong Legal certainly has a great Lawyer you are a credit to the company and I'm quite sure you will secure a very successful future! … My Kindest Regards and Thanks
Throughout Angela has been the consummate professional. She maintained a calm, yet strong demeanour remained informative and completely open in her communication and took complete ownership of the situation. We felt confident we finally had an advocate to steer us out of the nightmare we were in, and she did so with great respect and sincerity. I cannot speak more highly of Angela. She has literally rescued our family from what looked very much like a hopeless future.
Words can’t describe how grateful I am to Trudie Cameron being my solicitor and to Andrew Tiedt presenting my case in the court. They both have been very supportive and amazingly professional and effective. I’ve got an absolutely fantastic outcome I couldn’t even dream about.
Soon after meeting Andrew I knew he was the solicitor I wanted to handle my matter. He immediately sprang into action which brought me stability and hope during a tumultuous time in my life. Andrew was never afraid to give me straight answers to my tough questions which is a true mark of integrity. He is clearly at ease in the court environment and I believe his calm and measured demeanour went a long way to helping me secure the best result from my day in court. I would certainly recommend you approach Andrew if you need assistance.
"Andrew Tiedt was very professional and considerate to personal circumstances and gave sound advice that resulted in the best outcome possible. Highly recommended."
Deferred Sentences and Suspended Sentences (ACT)
A recent decision of Acting Chief Justice Burns in the ACT Supreme Court demonstrates very clearly two sentencing options that are regular features in the ACT but are, in one case, now unavailable in NSW, and, in the other case, quite rare, in NSW. The 2020 ACT Supreme Court decision of R v Parker highlighted the two options of a suspended prison sentence (which was removed as a sentencing option in NSW in 2018) and a deferred sentence order, which is a legislated sentencing option in the ACT but is often referred to in other jurisdictions as a “Griffiths-style remand”.
What is a suspended sentence?
Section 12 of the ACT’s Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005 provides that the court can impose a sentence of imprisonment but “suspend” the term and placing the offender on a Good Behaviour Order, often with significant conditions.
In the first place, the offence must have been so serious as to command a sentence of imprisonment. The court can then suspend that sentence wholly, or in part. If it suspends it in part, the offender spends some time in actual custody before being released to serve the remainder of the sentence on a suspended basis.
The accompanying Good Behaviour Order must be for as long as the period during which the sentence is suspended but can be for any longer period that the court considers appropriate.
A suspended sentence order may be part of a combination sentence together with other sentencing orders, perhaps including a fine, driver-licence disqualification, reparation, non-association and place restriction.
Breaching a suspended sentence
Offenders are generally told in ACT courts at the time of sentence that the court has only two options if a suspended prison sentence is breached. Those options are:
- Impose the actual prison sentence and take the offender immediately into custody;
- Resentence the offender.
A person who receives a suspended sentence needs to be aware that a breach can be alleged at any time during an order, potentially activating imprisonment. For example, the court might have imposed a suspended prison sentence of one year with a Good Behaviour Order for three years. If the offender were to be charged with a similar offence committed after two years and 11 months, they could still face going to prison for a full year if found guilty.
What is a deferred sentence?
Section 27 of the Crimes (Sentencing) Act provides an opportunity for an offender to address their criminal behaviour, and anything that has contributed to the behaviour before the court sentences the offender.
The section applies if the court has not sentenced an offender and the offender is neither serving nor liable to serve, a term of imprisonment for another offence and the court is satisfied that it may release the offender on bail.
Under a deferred sentence order, the offender is required to appear before the court at the time and place stated in the order to be sentenced for the offence. The maximum period of the order is generally 12 months.
A deferred sentence order applies to all offences for which the court may sentence an offender, whether or not they are punishable by imprisonment. Further, a deferred sentence order may include any condition the court considers appropriate.
The great benefit of a deferred sentence is that it can be something of a “stop valve” in the sentencing process, saving people from prison and giving them a chance to prove they can rehabilitate themselves to avoid re-offending.
R v Parker
In the decision of R v Parker, the defendant was a 20-year-old woman who was convicted of attempted aggravated robbery (maximum penalty 25 years imprisonment) and aggravated robbery (same maximum penalty). Her co-accused was her mother, who had a heroin habit, and, in Justice Burns’s words, “may be expected to have some degree of influence over the offender”.
Ms Parker was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment, suspended upon her entering a Good Behaviour Order for 24 months. Justice Burns had previously recorded convictions in both matters in February 2020 and then given the accused a year to seize the opportunity provided by a deferred sentence.
As might be expected with a co-accused mother with a drug habit, His Honour accepted that “there have been some bumps along the way but, generally, the result of the deferred sentence order that I have imposed over the last 13 months has been positive.
“I therefore propose to proceed by way of a suspended sentence of imprisonment.”
Robbery offences in the ACT and NSW
While there has been no option in NSW for a suspended sentence since 2018, statistics show a marked difference in sentencing patterns between NSW and ACT when it comes to robbery offences.
Since 24 September 2018 (when NSW abolished suspended sentences), almost 80 per cent of those convicted of aggravated robbery received a full-time custodial sentence, according to the Judicial Information Research System.
Just under 14 per cent received an Intensive Corrections Order, a prison sentence served in the community under stringent supervision and often with many conditions, chiefly including rehabilitation and community service.
Only 6.8 per cent did not receive a prison sentence.
Before the sentencing reforms, full-time custody was applied for 81 per cent of defendants – but 12.4 per cent received a suspended sentence.
Even in ACT terms, the sentences in Parker were on the more lenient side. The ACT Sentencing Database records that 75 per cent of those convicted of attempted aggravated robbery received immediate custodial sentences and the remaining 25 per cent received only partially suspended sentences.
For the aggravated robbery, two-thirds of ACT defendants were sentenced to full-time custody with one third sentenced to an Intensive Corrections Order.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.
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