Criminal Law – Other Sentencing Options: Forum Sentencing

Posted on January 1st, 2014

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by Ashleigh John

Ashleigh John is a Senior Solicitor at Mullane & Lindsay in Newcastle and an Accredited Specialist in Family Law.

While the maintenance of an effective criminal law system is important to the preservation of an ordered society, it is well accepted that jail is not always the way to deter criminal behaviour.  For this reason the NSW government has looked to other sentencing options to address undesirable behaviour.  One such example, is forum sentencing.

Forum sentencing brings together the offender, the victim/s and other people affected by the crime.  The aim is to try to repair the harm caused to the victim/s and community and provide an opportunity for the offender realise the real impact of their behaviour, and reduce the likelihood of re-offending.

Forum sentencing is only available in relation to certain offences where a plea of guilty has been entered and in certain registries (including Local Court registries in Raymond Terrace, Newcastle, Maitland and others).  There must also be an identifiable victim and agreed facts.

At the end of the forum sentencing the participants create an Action Plan.  The matter then returns to the court and the Magistrate decides whether to approve the agreed Action Plan. In most cases the Action Plan is approved.  The benefit of forum sentencing is that outcomes can include remedies such as imposition of a bond; order to attend at counselling and compensation order; as well as ‘outside the box’ remedies such as removal of graffiti or fixing damaged property.

Ashleigh John is a Senior Solicitor at Mullane & Lindsay, and practises extensively in Family, Relationship and Matrimonial Law. If you require any assistance in this area please contact Ashleigh John to arrange a consultation or contact our Newcastle office.

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