The revised Three Strikes Law

The report back from the Select Committee is here. The key principle is still:

  1. 1st serious offence – normal sentence and parole
  2. 2nd serious offence – normal sentence, no parole
  3. 3rd serious offence – maximum sentence, no parole

However there are a few tweaks about offences with life sentences.

If you get a third strike for say rape, then the penalty would be 20 years without parole. A court can decide that would be manifestly unjust, and allow parole – but still the maximum sentence. So they would be eligible for parole in 14 years or so.

If the third offence is manslaughter, which normally has life as a maximum sentence, the requirement is a minimum imprisonment of 20 years, and if that is manifestly unjust, then a minimum imprisonment of 10 years.

If murder is a stage two or three offence, then the sentence will be life without parole. If this would be manifestly unjust, then the minimum period of imprisonment is at least 20 years.

Also they clarify that at a third strike the court can sentence an offender to preventative detention, with a minimum no release period of at least what their third strike would have been (unless manifestly unjust). This means a serial sex offender for example can be given preventative detention, rather than a finite term.

So what does this mean for a number of offences. Graeme E will correct me I am sure, where needed, but at a glance a likely scenario is:

Indecent Assault

  1. 1st strike – three years (court of appeal starting point), with parole at two years
  2. 2nd strike three years, no parole
  3. 3rd strike seven years, no parole. If manifestly unjust parole eligibility at 4 years eight months

Aggravated Robbery or Wounding with intent to do GBH

  1. 1st strike – four years, parole in two years eight months
  2. 2nd strike – four years, no parole
  3. 3rd strike – 14 years, no parole. If manifestly unjust parole eligibility at 10 years four months

Rape

  1. 1st strike – eight years, parole in five years four months
  2. 2nd strike – eight years, no parole
  3. 3rd strike – 20 years, no parole. If manifestly unjust parole eligibility at 13 years four months

Manslaughter

  1. 1st strike – not sure if there is a sentencing guideline, so say 15 years, parole in 10 years
  2. 2nd strike – 15 years, no parole
  3. 3rd strike – life, with parole eligibility in 20 years. If manifestly unjust parole eligibility after ten years

Murder

  1. 1st strike – life, parole eligibility after ten years
  2. 2nd strike – life, no parole. If manifestly unjust parole eligibility after 20 years
  3. 3rd strike – life, no parole. If manifestly unjust parole eligibility after 20 years

Now it seems there may be some way that if even 20 years non parole is also manifestly unjust, it then falls back to normal sentencing for murder.

The threshold of manifestly unjust is historically quite high. For example, a Judge can use it at the moment to not issue a life sentence for murder, and I can’t recall the last time that occured.

Also worth stressing is that the strikes happen regardless of what were the other strikes. So they do not have to be strikes of the same offence. The 1st strike might be indecent assault, the second strike rape and the third strike manslaughter.

Also the first strikes may not even result in a custodial sentence. The figures above are starting points for those offences. It may be a 1st strike avoids jail – but they will still get told the consequences of further strikes.

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