Leniency requests to judges no longer permitted

GONE are the days when defence lawyers would request lenient sentences for their clients.

Submissions on sentencing are no longer accepted before court.

That means if you find yourself facing court, your lawyer can no longer suggest probation or a fine is appropriate for your offence.

Each court in Australia must interpret the case for itself, since a High Court judge refused to hear what penalty prosecutors were seeking in the case of two drug dealers earlier this month.

When the defendants argued it was procedurally unfair, the High Court said prosecutors were not surrogate judges and the recommendations were not required and should not be allowed.

Before the change, prosecutors would generally tell judges what sentences the guilty should face.

Magistrate Graeme Tatnell of Hervey Bay Magistrates Court said in court since the High Court case had been delivered, he had restricted the prosecution on making submissions on sentencing range.

On Monday, he made the decision to make the same restriction for defence.

Mr Tatnell told the court sentencing was for a judge, or magistrate, alone to decide.

"The moment you say a fine, or alternate sentence, is appropriate you're interfering with the course of sentencing," he said.

Hervey Bay defence solicitor John Milburn said in court, lawyers had a duty to their client and duty to the court and it would more difficult to advocate for what was best for his clients with the change.

Prosecutors and defence lawyers may still provide comparable cases.



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