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  • Indictable Offences in Tasmania (TAS)

    In Tasmania, the Sentencing Act 1997 (Tas) governs the penalties and sentencing that a person gets for a criminal offence. The Court can either impose;

    • A single sentence or,
    • Mixed penalties,

    Depending on the nature and circumstances of the crime.

    The Criminal Code Act 1924 (Tas) also determines the Court that will impose sentencing for an offence.

    Under the Criminal Code Act, the offence can either be a summary offence or an indictable offence.

    Indictable offences in the state of Tasmania are a serious criminal offence and will show up on an individual's national criminal history check in Tasmania.

    What are indictable offences?

    These are offences that the legislation prescribes maximum penalties greater than 12 months and are usually handled in a Supreme Court. These offences are more severe than a summary offence and are heard by a Jury in a Supreme Court.

    Proceedings for handling an indictable offence

    Part VII, Division 1 of the Justices Act 1959 (Tas) defines all proceedings for filing an indictable charge before a supreme court.

    1. Filing an indictment charge

    The Supreme court will grant a certificate (s 51 of the Justices Act) showing an indictment charge to the officer or other authorised person who files the charge.

    1. Summoning the accused person

    If the Supreme Court grants a certificate for an indictable charge, they will either;

    • By recommendation of the complainant, summon the person against whom an indictment is filed. Or,
    • Issue a warrant for the arrest of the accused person.
    1. Committal hearing

    If the accused person is in custody or appears before the Justice, the Justice will begin a committal trial. The committal hearing is a preliminary hearing that allows the Magistrate to assess the validity of the indictable charge.

    First appearance

    The first time the person hears the charge read out to them is called the first appearance. At this hearing, the Magistrate/Justices must:

    • Explain and read out the charges in simple terms to the accused person,
    • Explain the duties and rights available to the person under the Act as relevant to the charge,
    • Invite such persons to enter a plea.

    At the first appearance or hearing, the defendant can choose to;

    • Plead guilty to the charges,
    • Elect to have the charge heard by a higher court (Supreme Court),
    • Plead to the justices/Magistrate to adjourn the case to prepare adequately.

    Second appearance before Justices for indictable offences

    A defendant can also elect to be tried by a higher court on the hearing following adjournment.

    They can also decide to plead to the charge(s) readout in the first appearance if they feel they are adequately prepared.

    However, if the defendant does not make any actions or arguments, and the matter is adjourned.

    On the next appearance, the defendant may plead;

    • Guilty to the offence, or
    • With the prosecutor or Justice consent, plead guilty to any other indictable offence.
    • Not guilty of the offence charged,
    • No further proceedings should follow in respect to the charge,
    • That they are already found guilty of such offences.

    Also,

    The Court will also take that a person pleads not guilty if they refuse to make a plea on such a charge.

    The Court will take it that a person elects to have the matter heard by a Justice if they refuse to make an election.

    Committal of the defendant to Supreme Court

    The Justice will commit an offence or trial to the Supreme Court once they;

    • Plead guilty to the crime, or,
    • Another crime which they are convicted on an indictment

    Also, the offence has to be one which;

    • Must be tried in the Supreme Court, or,
    • The defendant has elected to be heard before a Justice of the Supreme Court.

    However, the justices can also commit the defendant to the Supreme Court for trial or sentences if the justices consider it appropriate. It does not matter that the defendant elects to hear such an offence before a Supreme Court.

    Which Court handles an indictable offence in Tasmania?

    Indictable charges must pass through the Magistrate for a committal hearing before a trial in a higher court.

    However, the defendant can also elect to hear their matter before higher courts (Supreme Court).

    Indictable offences can also be handled in a Supreme Court by recommendations of the Magistrate Court.

    Trial and sentencing

    The Judge or Magistrate will impose sentencing for an indictable charge if the defendant;

    • Pleads guilty to the offence,
    • Is found guilty of the crime.

    Under the Sentencing Act 1997 (Tas), the Court must impose a conviction for specific sentencing like;

    • Imprisonment terms,
    • Drug treatments,
    • Detention for young offenders.

    Factors the Court considers when issuing punishments for an indictable offence

    The Magistrate or Judge will consider lots of factors before sentencing an offender for an indictable offence. Depending on the case, the Court will consider;

    • The impact such offence had on the community or the victim,
    • The presence of an aggravating factor in such violation,
    • Their Criminal records,
    • And any other factors relevant to the crime.

    Examples of indictable offences in Tasmania

    Indictable offences attract severe penalties, which can reach up to life imprisonment. Some of these offences are strictly handled by a Supreme Court. Some examples include;

    Murder offences (s. 154 of the Criminal Code Act 1924)

    A person found guilty of murder is liable to imprisonment term up to life imprisonment. The person will also have a Murder conviction on their criminal records.

    Manslaughter offences (s. 159 of the Criminal Code Act 1924)

    It is an indictable offence to be found guilty of;

    Culpable homicide that did not result in murder is regarded as a manslaughter, and,

    Such persons will be guilty of a manslaughter conviction in their criminal records.

    Aiding Suicide (s. 163 of the Criminal Code Act 1924)

    It is an indictable offence if you are found guilty of aiding, assisting or inducing a person to commit suicide.

    Offences of Rape (s. 185 of the Criminal Code Act 1924)

    It is a serious indictable offence to have sexual intercourse with another person without their consent. Such crimes are only handled in a Supreme Court and attract much more severe penalties.

    Assault offences (Chapter XIX of the Criminal Code Act 1924)

    It is a severe offence to assault a person in Tasmania with the intent to;

    • Harm or Injure them
    • Commit another offence,

    Or,

    Commit any other reckless act that injures or causes them serious harm.

    If the victim sustains any serious injury from such assaults, the Jury will impose very severe penalties. If there are circumstances of aggravation in the Assault charge, the Court will impose more severe penalties.

    Other Indictable Crimes in Tasmania

    Other offences that are handled as indictable offences include serious/aggravated offences of;

    Do Indictable Offences show up on a national criminal record check in Tasmania?

    Indictable offences are serious criminal offences in the state of Tasmania. The offence is disclosed on a criminal history check.

    In the majority of circumstances, an indictable offence will not be eligible to get expunged from a person's criminal record as per the spent convictions scheme in Tasmania.

    Individuals can obtain their background check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

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