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Criminal Law Update

NCJ Number
Judicial Review Volume: 6 Issue: 1 Dated: September 2002 Pages: 55-72
Megan Latham
Date Published
September 2002
18 pages
This report reviews significant decisions in New South Wales courts (Australia) in the areas of evidence, jury directions, sentencing, and practice and procedure.
The evidence issue addressed by the High Court in Adam v. The Queen concerned the extent of the use that the prosecution might make of the representations contained within a prior inconsistent statement of a witness. The Court held that, assuming leave is properly granted to the party seeking to cross-examine the witness, the content of any prior statements may go to the jury, not just on the issue of the witness' credibility, but also as proof of the truth of the facts asserted by the prior statements. Court decisions regarding jury instructions pertained to a defendant's right to silence (not to take the witness stand); warnings in sexual assault cases affected by a significant delay between the alleged offense and notice of the particular allegations being given to the accused; multiple counts in a sexual assault trial; and warnings under s 165 of the Evidence Act 1995 regarding a judge's instruction to the jury about evidence of a type that may be unreliable. Court decisions regarding sentencing involved sentencing guideline judgments; guilty pleas; special circumstances; suspended sentences; Form One offenses (offenses grouped together under the expectation the sentence will be less if convicted than if the charges were processed separately); and good character as a mitigating factor in sentencing. The court cases reviewed under the topic of "practice and procedure" pertain to special hearings, the jury and Commonwealth offenses, and evidentiary rulings and subsequent trials. 69 notes


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