UOW academic identifies flaws in NSW Government’s new one-punch laws

UOW academic identifies flaws in NSW Government’s new one-punch laws

One punch laws won't curb alcohol-related violence, UOW's Dr Julia Quilter says.

Dr Julia Quilter, a Senior Lecturer in UOW's Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts, has questioned the effectiveness of the NSW Government’s new One-Punch Laws in preventing alcohol-fuelled violence in an article recently published in the International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy. 

Dr Quilter will speak about these issues at a seminar on 9 April at UOW. 

In the article, Dr Quilter argues that the law fails to appropriately define the conduct constituting the offence and the aggravating factor of ‘intoxication’. The paper also argues that the new offences represent law ‘reform’ that is devoid of principle, produces a lack of coherence in the criminal law and is unlikely to deliver on the promise of effective crime prevention in relation to alcohol-fuelled violence. 

Most importantly, Dr Quilter, who is also a member of UOW’s Legal Intersections Research Centre, argues that while the Government has set high expectations for how one-punch deaths will be handled in the future, the legislation offers no guarantee that the harsh punishments promised by the government will be delivered in any one case, ultimately leading to further community disappointment. 

The NSW Government’s ‘One-Punch laws’ commenced operation on 31 January 2014 and constitute the first change to homicide offences since 1951 when infanticide was created. The two new offences are ‘assault causing death’ and an aggravated version where the offender is intoxicated at the time of committing the offence. The aggravated offence has a mandatory minimum sentence of eight years – being only the second time a government has used the policy of mandatory sentencing in recent NSW history. 

Note to media: Dr Quilter will be giving a talk on these issues on 9 April 2014 from 4.30 to 6PM at Building 19, UOW main campus. Media are welcome to attend this event. 

Media contact: Jacqueline Wales, UOW Media and PR Officer, +61 2 427 225657 or jwales@uow.edu.au.