The Act 1958 ( Vic ) And The Sentencing Amendment

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The recently passed ‘Sentencing Amendment (Coward’s Punch Manslaughter and Other Matters)’ arose within a highly politicized context and has led to controversy. The amendment was introduced in response to a perceived increase need to legislate on deaths caused by king hit punches or “coward’s punch”. It amends both the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) and the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic), by defining a punch to head or neck as dangerous act, introducing a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for manslaughter by one punch, and increases the mandatory minimum sentence for manslaughter by gross violence to 10 years . However, there is likely little need for this legislation, as pre-existing law was already capable of dealing with the offence, and the implementation of this legislation will likely fail to effectively achieve its purpose. Moreover, the introduction, or increase, of a mandatory sentence will be unlikely to effectively deter individuals, and will remove the courts discretion regarding sentencing. In this essay I will argue that the legislation is unneeded to prosecute those who king hit others, and that it will likely fail to have its intended effect. The Need for the Amendment Given the pre-existing law in Victoria which has dealt with manslaughter and its sentencing is capable of doing so without undue rigidness, there is arguably no need for the amendment. The major changes delivered by the amendment are the introduction of a new offence in S4A –that a single punch to
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