Sentencing Advisory Council
The Council has released a consultation paper to assist its review of the use of suspended sentences, drug treatment orders, and the new sentencing orders of Home Detention Order and Community Corrections Order.
This paper provides information about the use and duration of theses sentencing options, including the use of suspended sentences for specified offences. The Council is seeking comment and feedback on this paper, and is keen to receive responses on the issues raised and questions posed in the paper.
Submissions will be received until close of business Monday, 13 September 2021 and may be emailed to the Council. Written submissions may also be mailed to:
Sentencing Advisory Council
GPO Box 825, Hobart Tas 7001.
The Sentencing Amendment (Phasing Out Of Suspended Sentences) Act 2017 commenced on 14 December 2018.
This Act established two new sentencing orders - Home Detention Orders (Part 5A) and Community Correction Orders (Part 5B).
The Act also contained provisions to limit the ability to suspend sentences for some offences. However, these provisions may not commence until a review has been conducted by the Sentencing Advisory Council following the commencement of the new sentencing orders.
As required under the Sentencing Amendment (Phasing Out Of Suspended Sentences) Act 2017, terms of reference for the review were tabled in both Houses of Parliament and were subsequently approved on 10 and 11 November 2020.
The Attorney-General has now given notice to the Sentencing Advisory Council to conduct the review under the following approved terms of reference:
Home Detention under Part 5A of the Sentencing Act 1997:
Community Correction Orders under Part 5B of the Sentencing Act 1997:
Court Mandated Drug Diversion (CMD) – Drug Treatment Orders under Part 3A of the Sentencing Act 1997:
Phasing out of Suspended Sentences:
The Council is to regard any reference to ‘agency stakeholders’ in terms 15 and 24 to be equivalent to ‘relevant stakeholders’.
The Council’s report is due in late November 2021, and work on this project commenced in April 2021.
This project will produce a guide and two shorter information resources on the sentencing process in Tasmania for use by members of the public, victims of crime, offenders, Community Legal Centres and the courts. The resources will be published on the Sentencing Advisory Council website to be freely available to anyone interested.
The information resources being developed are:
The Council has completed two resources - A Guide to Sentencing booklet and the information sheet How courts sentence adult offenders. These are available for download below.
Printed copies of the information sheet on how courts sentence adult offenders are also available free of charge by sending a request to email@example.com
This project will provide information on the operation of the Magistrates Court (Youth Justice Division) as well as examining the sentencing of young offenders by the Supreme Court.
The research will also examine the use of pre-court diversion (cautions and community conferences) as this is integral to the Tasmanian approach to youth justice.
Sentencing of young offenders occurs under the Tasmanian Youth Justices Act 1997. Previously the Sentencing Advisory Council’s consideration of sentencing has only examined sentencing under the Sentencing Act 1997. This research paper intends to fill the gap in information around the operation of the sentencing principles, options and practices under the Youth Justices Act.
The Council commenced work on this research paper in September 2020 and will release a paper in the first half of 2021.
The Sentencing Advisory Council released Research Paper 5: Sentencing for Non-Fatal Strangulation on 17 June 2021. This paper examines the nature and consequences of non-fatal strangulation, choking and suffocation, and demonstrates the inherent risk and seriousness of the conduct, as well as its role in the maintenance of control and fear in family violence contexts.
The paper details the offences that may be charged in Tasmania in circumstances of non-fatal strangulation, choking or suffocation, and information on sentencing in the Supreme Court. Information on sentencing for strangulation offences in selected other comparable jurisdictions is included.
Based on its research, the Council makes three suggestions for reform:
Amend the Sentencing Act 1997 (Tas) to provide that strangulation and suffocation are aggravating circumstances in relation to an offence.
Amend section 13A of the Family Violence Act 2004 (Tas) to provide for the recording of non-fatal strangulation as a particular of a family violence offence on a person’s criminal record.
Amend the Sentencing Act 1997 (Tas) to provide for the recording of non-fatal strangulation as a particular of the offence on a person’s criminal record in cases other than family violence cases.
The Sentencing Advisory Council released Research Paper 4: Sentencing Appeals in Tasmania on 27 August 2019. This Research Paper provides information about the operation of appeals against sentence for offenders sentenced under the Sentencing Act 1997 in Tasmania.
The Research Paper provides an overview of the appeal framework in Tasmania applicable to appeals against sentence for Supreme Court and Magistrates Court matters. It looks at appeals against sentence from both decisions of magistrates in the Magistrates Court to the Supreme Court (motions to review) and decisions of single judges in the Supreme Court to the Court of Criminal Appeal (appeals) over a specified period of years.
The Paper makes key findings in relation to:
The paper also compares the success rate for appeals against sentence in Tasmania with those in NSW and Victoria.
The Sentencing Advisory Council released Research Paper 3: Sentencing for Serious Sex Offences against Children on 19 December 2018. This Research Paper examines trends in sentencing in Tasmania for serious sex offences against children.
The sentencing data for serious child sex offences for the period 1 January 2015 to 30 September 2018 was examined in comparison with sentencing data for the period 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2014. The data for the 2008-14 period had been collected earlier as part of the research for the Council’s reports Sex Offence Sentencing: Final Report No. 4 and Mandatory Sentencing for Serious Sex Offences against Children: Final Report No. 7. This Paper builds on that research and provides an update on sentencing for serious sex offences against children during the 2015-18 period.
The Council identified a decided upward trend in the sentences imposed under the Sentencing Act 1997 in the later period. The Council makes a number of key findings and observations in relation to the decisions of the Court of Criminal Appeal when considering sentencing for sexual offences, and the trends emerging from the data for sentencing in the Supreme Court for sexual offences involving children. As this is a Research Paper the Council does not make any recommendations.
In August 2017 the Acting Attorney-General, the Hon Matthew Groom, requested the Sentencing Advisory Council examine and report on a statutory sentencing discount for pleas of guilty in Tasmania. This was a response to concerns in relation to delays in criminal proceedings and late-resolving guilty pleas, in particular the significant impact on the efficiency of the administration of justice and the court system and the unnecessary additional stress and trauma for victims, their families and other vulnerable participants in the criminal trial process.
The Council commenced research on this referral in January 2018.
The Council released a consultation paper in April 2018 which provides an overview of the current approach taken to the reduction of sentence for a guilty plea in Tasmania, and examines legislative approaches in other Australian jurisdictions and comparable international jurisdictions. The Council also held a forum and individual meetings with key stakeholders to inform the final stage of its work.
The Council released its Final Report No. 10: Statutory Sentencing Reductions for Pleas of Guilty on 7 November 2018.
Any queries may be directed to the Council at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
In March 2015 the Attorney-General requested the Sentencing Advisory Council examine putting into effect compulsory sex offender treatment programs in prison.
In late 2015 the Attorney-General requested the Council expand the terms of reference for the mandatory treatment for sex offenders project to include consideration of mandatory treatment for drug and alcohol offenders, and to consider programs both in prison and in the community. The Council divided this project into 2 stages:
The Council has completed Stage 1 and released Research Paper No. 1: Mandatory Treatment for Sex Offenders on 16 February 2017.
The Council has completed Stage 2 and released Research Paper No. 2: Mandatory Treatment for Alcohol and Drug Affected Offenders on 21 December 2017.
In October 2015 the Attorney-General requested the Sentencing Advisory Council examine and provide a report on sentencing in relation to driving offences that result in the death or injury of another. Work on this referral commenced in June 2016.
The Council released a Consultation Paper on 22 October 2016 which provides an overview of the existing sentencing framework in Tasmania and information on sentencing patterns for driving offences where death or injury was caused, both in Tasmania and in other jurisdictions. The paper sought feedback on 20 areas in particular through a series of questions around sentencing and possible reform options. The consultation period closed on 18 November 2016.
The Council also conducted a series of forums and individual meetings with key stakeholders in November 2016.
The Council released its Final Report No. 8: Sentencing of Driving Offences that Result in Death or Injury on 26 April 2017.
In October 2015 the Attorney-General requested the Sentencing Advisory Council undertake a separate project to investigate the implementation of minimum mandatory sentencing for serious sexual offences against children, and examine Tasmania’s current legislative framework for sentencing sex offenders. The Council was also asked to provide preliminary advice on the legislative means required to implement such a scheme and provide advice as to what mandatory minimum sentences for serious sexual offences should be and which offences should be captured within the scope of the mandatory sentencing provisions.
In April 2016 the Council undertook targeted consultation with key stakeholders to test Council’s preliminary views and obtain feedback in relation to the implementation of minimum mandatory sentencing for those who commit serious sexual offences against children.
The Final Report No. 7: Mandatory Sentencing for Serious Sex Offences against Children was released in November 2016.
Part A of the report reiterates Council’s recommendation from their earlier Sex Offence Sentencing report that mandatory sentencing not be introduced in Tasmania. It also sets out some objections to the implementation of a mandatory minimum sentencing scheme in Tasmania.
Part B discusses the implementation of such a scheme. The Council provides preliminary advice on:
The Sentencing Advisory Council received a reference from the Attorney-General in July 2014 to examine Tasmania’s current use of suspended sentences and how to phase out suspended sentences in Tasmania.
As part of this project the Council conducted a period of public consultation during August/September 2015. A Consultation Paper setting out Council’s preliminary views and draft recommendations, and companion Background Paper containing background information, were released to assist the public to provide comment.
The Council also commissioned a specialist report to assist in examining the cost of alternative sentencing options. The separate economic modelling report 'Exploring the Costs of Alternatives to Suspended Sentences' in Tasmania was released to the public together with the final report.
The Council released its Final Report No. 6: Phasing out of Suspended Sentencesin March 2016. The report examines how to phase out suspended sentences in Tasmania and makes 55 recommendations in relation to this area. The recommendations cover:
In October 2013 the Attorney-General requested the Sentencing Advisory Council provide advice on sentencing of adult family violence offenders in Tasmania, following the identification of a number of problems relating to the sentencing of family violence offenders in a series of reports presented to the Government of the day.
The Sentencing Advisory Council released its Final Report No. 5: Sentencing of Adult Family Violence Offendersin December 2015. This report provides advice on the sentencing of adult family violence offenders in Tasmania and includes consideration of the range and adequacy of sentencing options and support programs currently available, and the role of specialist family violence lists or courts in dealing with family violence matters.
The Council was not asked to provide recommendations and so the report offers 12 observations about current sentencing practices for these offences.
In May 2012 the Attorney-General sought advice from the Sentencing Advisory Council in relation to the sentencing of sex offences in Tasmania.
As part of this project, during May 2013 the Council invited the public to express their views on the appropriateness of present sentencing practices for sex offences in Tasmania, and what changes could be made to the legal system to address any practices considered not appropriate. To assist the public the Council released a detailed Research Paper to provide background information and analysis of sentencing practices in Tasmania and other jurisdictions for these offences, as well as a Consultation Paper which highlighted some issues for consideration and response by the public. A public forum was also conducted for any interested parties to attend.
The Sentencing Advisory Council released its Final Report No. 4: Sentencing of Sex Offenders in September 2015. This Report provides information on existing sentencing practices in the Tasmanian Supreme Court regarding sex offences and advice on how to address any inadequacies. The report makes 15 recommendations regarding these areas.
The Research Paper and Consultation Paper are directly linked to the LINC Tasmania website where they have been deposited.
The project to establish a searchable online database for sentencing data from the Tasmanian courts has been completed for criminal cases in the Magistrates Court.
The database was launched in July 2015 and can be found at SAC Stats.
In October 2013 the Sentencing Advisory Council was asked by the Attorney-General to provide advice on the implications for an offender where a court does not record a conviction following a finding of guilt, and specifically whether a fine should be imposed if a conviction is not recorded.
The Council released its Final Report No. 3: Non-Conviction Sentences ‘Not recording a conviction as a sentencing option’ in August 2014, which contains 36 recommendations to the Attorney-General based on its research and findings. The recommendations address areas such as:
This project was one of the initial referrals to the Sentencing Advisory Council at its inception in June 2010. The Attorney-General requested Council to provide advice in relation to assaults on emergency workers in Tasmania.
In June 2012 Council released a Consultation Paper to assist in the discussion about the capacity of Tasmania’s sentencing structure to deal with the sentencing of persons found guilty of assaults on emergency service workers in Tasmania. The Paper:
The Final Report No. 2: Assaults on Emergency Service Workers was released in March 2013. Based on the evidence from research and the submissions received to the Consultation Paper, the final advice to the Attorney General contains one recommendation proposing various changes to the Police Offences Act 1935 and a definition of an emergency service worker.
This project was one of the initial referrals by the Attorney-General to the Sentencing Advisory Council at its inception in June 2010. The Council was asked to provide advice into offences and sentencing for arson and deliberately lit fires in Tasmania, including consideration of community information, education and post-sentencing programmes.
The Council released a Consultation Paper in December 2011 to assist in the discussion around the legislative framework, sentencing options and related matters in relation to adults and juveniles involved in fire setting. The Paper:
The Final Report No. 1: Arson and Deliberately Lit Fires was released in December 2012 and uses the research in the Consultation Paper to provide background information relating to both bushfire and property arson. The report makes 13 recommendations covering: