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Section 36 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 defines a guideline judgment to mean a judgment containing guidelines to be taken into account by Courts sentencing offenders, including:
The decision of Spigelman CJ in the case of Regina v. Jurisic (1998) 45 NSW LR209 provides an excellent summary of the practical effect of guideline judgments.
Some of the passages from this judgment are set out below:
"Guidelines are intended to be indicative only. They are not intended to be applied to every case as if they were rules binding on sentencing judges. Decisions of appellant courts on sentencing are not to be treated as binding precedents.
"In accordance with this approach, guideline judgments perform a limited role. Nevertheless, in my opinion, such judgments will provide a useful statement of principle to assist trial judges to ensure consistency of sentencing with respect of particular kinds of offences. I reiterate that such guidelines are not binding in a formal sense. They represent a relevant indicator, much as trial judges have always regarded statutory maximum penalties as an indicator."
In the decision of R v Whyte, Spigelman CJ went further to say that "a guideline is to be taken into account only as a 'check' or 'sounding board' or 'guide' but not as a 'rule' or 'presumption'.
The Court constructed a typical case for dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm to use as a model against which a sentencing Court can determine whether the case before it is similar or more or less serious.
The Court found that a typical case for dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm is one which has the following characteristics:
A full time gaol sentence will usually be appropriate unless the offender has a low level of moral culpability, as in the case of momentary inattention or misjudgment.
For offences of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm for the typical case:
Where the offender's moral culpability is high, a full time gaol sentence (both non parole and parole period) of less than three years (in the case of death) and two years (in the case of grievous bodily harm) would not generally be appropriate.
The court then listed a number of factors which would make the offence more serious then the typical case. The court listed the following aggravating factors:
The court said that where the offence is aggravated, an appropriate increment (increase in penalty) is required. Other factors, such as the number of victims, will also require an appropriate increment.
In NSW, traffic offences are treated seriously. Therefore, it is important to get competent legal advice as early as possible, whether you have received a penalty notice, had your licence suspended or been charged with a serious offence. Our lawyers are highly experienced and understand the difficulties you face without a licence. We can guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.