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In 2014 the State Government passed the Safe Night Out Legislation Amendment Act 2014, this was done in an attempt to deal with public outcry in relation to ‘one punch’ offences in popular night spots. This act introduced Section 314A into the Criminal Code. Section 314A provides that a person who unlawfully strikes another person to the head or neck, and causes the death of the other person, is guilty of a crime.

The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.

If a court sentences a person to a term of imprisonment for the offence, it must make an order that the person must not be released from imprisonment until the person has served the lesser of:

1. 80% of the persons term of imprisonment for the offence;

– or –

2. 15 years.

This does not apply if a person is sentenced to a term of imprisonment for life. The requirement that a person serve 80% of the person’s term of imprisonment also does not apply if the court imposes an intensive correctional order or an order that the whole or part of the term of imprisonment be suspended. For a term of imprisonment to be suspended in whole or part, that term must not exceed a period of 5 years. If the term of imprisonment is in excess of 5 years, then the defendant is required to serve 80% of it.

There have now been 5 cases determined by the Supreme Court with respect to this section. The Attorney General has lodged an appeal against sentence with respect to one of those.

In passing this legislation, the Government was particularly concerned about violence involving alcohol, at night, in the vicinity of licensed premises and young men throwing single punches.

The results for the families involved in these incidents are tragic.

Howden Saggers Lawyers acted in the most recent of these cases to be determined by the Supreme Court.

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