Court of Appeal to Consider Victoria's First Ever Guideline Judgment

15 November 2013

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal granted leave to appeal the sentences in the cases of Boulton v The Queen, Clements v The Queen, and Fitzgerald v The Queen. Justices Nettle, Redlich, and Coghlan ordered that a court of five justices consider the sentence appeals, and also consider whether to give a guideline judgment on the issues raised by those cases.

The Court of Appeal heard an application for a guideline judgment by the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Director submitted that all three cases raise important questions about the imposition of community correction orders (CCOs). These questions include the particular circumstances in which CCOs should be made and their duration.

A CCO is a relatively new sentencing order that replaced community-based orders (and some other orders) in early 2012. The three cases to be considered on appeal involve the imposition of CCOs of 5, 8, and 10 years in length.

Part 2AA of the Sentencing Act allows the Court of Appeal to make a guideline judgment that provides guidance on how Victorian courts should sentence relevant future cases. In this instance, if the court decides to give a guideline judgment, it is likely to provide guidance on the application of CCOs.

In accordance with its statutory functions, the Sentencing Advisory Council will provide its views to the Court of Appeal in relation to the giving of the guideline judgment. Victoria Legal Aid will also make submissions in advance of the appeal hearing.