Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Three strikes (w/ updates)

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  • giovanni tiso,

    Gone: assault with intent to injure
    Added: assault with intent to rob

    I'm sure this reflects the scale of grieviousness in our penal code, but can I just say - to any potential crims out there - that I'd rather be robbed than injured?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    And what else has changed?

    2. This isn't just the SST's/ACT's three strikes law with a few changes, it's really National's two strikes sentencing law with additional consequences for a third strike added in.

    It is worth noting that the Attorney-General's report indicates only that the aspects of the bill coming from the SST's proposal were inconsistent witht the Bill of Rights. The other bits were fine (from a BORA perspective).

    3. Only sentences of 5+ years imprisonment count as first or second strikes. An aggravated robbery that gets you four years imprisonment will be treated no differently from now. Bruce Emery's manslaughter of Pihema Cameron would have been serious enough to count as a strike.

    4. Gone is the requirement for the maximum applicable sentence to be imposed on the second strike. Rather, on the second strike, if the sentence exceeds five years, there will be no eligibility for parole. If it doesn't exceed five years, it doesn't count as a strike.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Bruce Emery's manslaughter of Pihema Cameron would have been serious enough to count as a strike.

    I thought he was sentenced to less then five years?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    Yes. More people in prison, but not more people thrown in prison.

    Except that I assume the power of a judge to order a non-custodial sentence for the third offence would be removed by the Bill - is this correct?

    In which case possibly more people thrown in prison. Admittedly, not many more, but hey, I'm a pedant.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Bruce Emery's manslaughter of Pihema Cameron would have been serious enough to count as a strike.

    Edit function needed :-)

    Bruce Emery's manslaughter of Pihema Cameron would NOT have been serious enough to count as a strike.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Except that I assume the power of a judge to order a non-custodial sentence for the third offence would be removed by the Bill - is this correct?

    For the third strike, yes. For the third offence, probably not.

    The power of a judge to order a non-custodial sentence on an offender convicted of a specfified offence who has already received two separate post-enactment prison terms of at least five years (for specified offences) has been removed.

    In which case possibly more people thrown in prison. Admittedly, not many more, but hey, I'm a pedant.

    Possibly, but I suspect you'll find the power is more imagined than real. Anyone in this boat is going to get a prison sentence under the present law.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    * incest
    * compelling indecent act with animal

    I find this kind of bizarre. Surely people guilty of these are more in need of intensive psychiatric treatment than 25 years in prison? Especially given that all the various permutations of statutory rape are included separately.

    Yeah, unsurprisingly I'm wary that a whole LOT of sex offences have been dumped in there at once. Taking incest, if you look at everything that's covered in other areas there, it appears to be 'incest between two consenting adults'. Is that actually something we feel a compelling need to imprison people for at all, let alone for life?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I find this kind of bizarre. Surely people guilty of these are more in need of intensive psychiatric treatment than 25 years in prison? Especially given that all the various permutations of statutory rape are included separately.

    They'll only get the 25 years if they have two separate convictions for other offences in the list each of which was though serious enough to result in a five year prison term.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    The lack of due process here is appalling. Laws in New Zealand are made by Parliament, and thus are tabled, read, and sent for submissions and review. For good reason.

    There will be problems with this law; there always are when non-administrative legislation is rammed through. They may be flaws that we decide (through our representatives) are acceptable, but that choice has been taken away.

    National is essentially ruling by fiat at the moment, invoking urgency on a whim.

    One thing I can say is that if Winston Peters was currently in opposition (as much as I hate the man), it's a damn sight less likely they'd be abolishing this members day.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Rammed through, George?

    I realise it was debated yesterday instead of waiting until Tuesday, but it was sent to select committee.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I stand corrected. I was confused by the use of urgency to put it through the first reading, a practice which I'm not familiar with. Why you'd do it if there was no hurry in the other stages was a mystery until now. So I made the wrong assumption that this meant urgency for all stages.

    It appears that is merely a way of extending Government business at the expense of members days. As I/S says, Labour should not be putting up with it.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    So Graeme, with the new list of included offences, what's the lowest possible "usual" sentence for those? You mentioned three years in your original entry, does this still hold under the new offences list?
    That would still be my major gripe - two relatively serious offences, then you commit a more minor offence with maximum sentence of three years and you're off for 25? Clearly you're a nasty bugger but that still seems mainfestly unjust.

    Also, it's interesting that it's the sentence imposed by the judge that triggers the strikes, rather than the nature of the crime. Will this see judges adjust their sentencing to either have it considered a strike or not? Will there be a spike in 4yr11month and 5yr1month sentences?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    So what is the logic in using the magic three number, aside from the baseball metaphor? Was there analysis done as to the average number of serious crimes/other committed? Perhaps we should consider who the target of this law is, the average numbers of crimes they commit etc, then determine if three offences is appropriate.

    That's what annoys me.

    I don't particularly mind harsher sentences on repeat offenders for serious crimes, though I don't think it'll solve anything, it'll just put the prisoner in jail longer, which I guess achieves one thing.

    However I'd much rather see judges empowered to use the ranges currently available more, and the nature of the offender be more considered.

    Legal systems are very complex things, but at their heart they're designed to deal with people and their actions and their impacts upon society. I'd like that considered more than the magic number 3, and glib saying "three strikes and you're out [in surely?]".

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    I'd like that considered more than the magic number 3, and glib saying "three strikes and you're out [in surely?]".

    It's too hard to get "Appropriately weighted prison sentences through judges empowered to analyse and consider the contexual issues" on to a billboard though. Especially when that huge picture of your party leader takes up so much space.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Call me old fashioned if you like. but I think it is up to the judge to decide the appropriate punishment, within the parameters decided by the Crimes Act. I find it objectionable for Government to demand that a judge sentence someone to life imprisonment because that someone has previous convictions for serious offences. We are supposed to have an independent judiciary, but that independence is being whittled away by coercive measures like this one and the reviewing of sentences.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I think it's meant as a mnemonic for criminals. Because, you know how stupid they all are, and aren't capable of remembering the years that they may have spent in prison.

    Why a mnemonic should find its way into law, I don't know. Perhaps it's not the criminals that need it, maybe it was the politician who brought it about. It's especially silly when it's not a particularly memorable mnemonic in NZ. 5 tackles without dropping the ball, perhaps? Or maybe it would make more sense if it were simply based on the genuine research into the behavior of repeat offenders with respect to the particular crimes they are accused of.

    There is some sense to finding that people are committing the same kind of crimes repeatedly, and figuring that a pattern is being established that warrants a long removal from society. Sex crimes, for instance, could be simply based on attitudes or desires that the offender basically can't or won't alter. I can see the more deviant crimes fitting this, like crimes against children. But if a pedophile is subsequently found guilty of an aggravated assault against an adult, it's hard to see any relationship between the crimes at all. Someone who has already committed 2 aggravated assaults is quite different, IMHO (IANAL, IANAJ). Their history is showing that they can't or won't control their temper, or that they have a cruel streak that is a danger to society. I only put the number 2 in there for argument's sake. Actual research would do a much better job than guesswork and analogies.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    correction: in "with respect to the particular crimes they are accused of", substitute "accused" for "found guilty".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    That would still be my major gripe - two relatively serious offences, then you commit a more minor offence with maximum sentence of three years and you're off for 25? Clearly you're a nasty bugger but that still seems mainfestly unjust.

    That's why I found the inclusion of some of the weirder sex offences strange - yes, you'd still have to commit two other crimes first, but as it stands you could still end up imprisoned for life for a (icky and indicative of some really weird psychological shit) consensual sex act between adults. In what way does this help society? Really?

    What I'd actually like to see is some statistics on how many people are committing two crimes with 5+ year sentences and then going down for a third serious offence AND getting a non-custodial or light custodial sentence. There would have to be some fairly large numbers involved here for me to concede that a law change like this is necessary and useful.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Look, do you want to have a bunch of killers and pervs on the loose or not? You smug intellectuals won't be smiling when your children are BRUTALLY SLAIN (photos of the scene on p3).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    you could still end up imprisoned for life for a (icky and indicative of some really weird psychological shit) consensual sex act between adults. In what way does this help society? Really?

    Especially if they're brothers, and they end up in the same prison ;-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Look, do you want to have a bunch of killers and pervs on the loose or not? You smug intellectuals won't be smiling when your children are BRUTALLY SLAIN (photos of the scene on p3).

    Stephen, you may enjoy the column I just put up.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    hmmm

    Rugby League: 6th tackle handover
    Softball/baseball: 3 strikes
    Rugby: ?
    Basketball: 3 seconds in the key
    Cricket: 2nd bouncers in an over
    Actually that is interesting because what if your 3 strikes are each 20 years apart? Surely after enough time being good your strikes should be removed.
    Tennis: um 7 point tiebreaker OR 3 sets for women 5 sets for men?
    Because women just shouldn't get as many chances as men right?

    In the end this will be a stupid law no matter which moronic sporting analogy is used.
    It won't reduce crime.
    It will restrict judges ability to apply experience and knowledge to sentencing.

    But most impotantly it will get politicians in the news - sigh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    So Graeme, with the new list of included offences, what's the lowest possible "usual" sentence for those? You mentioned three years in your original entry, does this still hold under the new offences list?

    No it does not.

    All the three year offences and five year offences which were listed in it have been removed. The least serious offences included are offences with maximum terms of 7 years (indecent assault, underage sex, sexual conduct with a family member, wounding with intent to injure etc.).

    That would still be my major gripe - two relatively serious offences, then you commit a more minor offence with maximum sentence of three years and you're off for 25?

    To be honest, it's probably going to have to be more than two relatively serious offences. Your first relatively serious offence is highly likely to result in less prison time that the five years required to count as a strike. Before one gets a first strike they'll almost certainly have been in trouble and probably have been in prison (unless the first is very serious).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    It won't reduce crime.
    It will restrict judges ability to apply experience and knowledge to sentencing.

    But most impotantly it will get politicians in the news - sigh.

    You could say that Laura Norder keeps fixing the match.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Ben - see my comment above - aggravated assault has been removed from the list of specified offences.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

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