Dr Julia Quilter

Expertise: Criminal law and criminal justice

School of Law

Contact Details

Associate Professor Quilter’s research focuses on a range of criminal law and criminal justice issues.

From a legal standpoint, she can provide expert commentary on alcohol-related violence, lockout laws, one-punch laws, sexual violence, evidence of (alcohol and/or drug) intoxication in criminal cases, local council rules regulating the use of public space, public order offences, homelessness, the effects of fines on the disadvantaged, as well as ‘big picture’ issues regarding governments’ use of ‘criminalisation’ as a public policy tool. 

Dr Quilter’s internationally recognised expertise in relation to how alcohol and drug use relates to criminal offending, criminal responsibility and criminal offending is underpinned by a number of successful policy and law reform oriented socio-legal research projects – that employ a variety of doctrinal and empirical methods. Illustrative projects include:

  • studies of law reform responses to alcohol-fuelled violence and ‘one punch’ fatalities, and how the courts have sentenced offenders for these types of crimes;
  • a national study of how and why Australian criminal laws attach significance to alcohol and drug effects including the problems that arise from a failure to define what is meant by ‘intoxication’;
  • analysis of the continued failure of the criminal justice system to deliver justice to victims of sexual violence despite decades of legislative reform;
  • studies of how ostensibly ‘minor’ forms of punishment like court-ordered fines and ‘on the spot’ penalty notices can have excessively punitive effects.

Dr Quilter is also part of a team of criminal law and criminology researchers that is undertaking an innovative socio-legal study of the recent history of how and why governments have employed various forms of criminalisation as a public policy tool. The ongoing study includes examination of how the public ‘demonisation’ of particular groups is employed to justify heightened punishments and sanctions, and how, in the name of crime prevention and risk management, legislatures around Australia have introduced various forms of ‘extreme’ criminalisation which push the criminal law beyond its traditional boundaries. 

In addition to her extensive research work, Dr Quilter is an experienced legal practitioner. She spent ten years practising as a solicitor and barrister, working mainly in public law and criminal law. She worked at the NSW State Crown Solicitor’s Office and was the Special Counsel to the NSW Solicitor General and Crown Advocate, appearing as junior counsel in constitutional and criminal law matters in the High Court, NSW Court of Appeal and NSW Court of Criminal Appeal.

Dr Quilter is a regular media commentator, across all platforms, including television, radio, print and social media. In a TEDx talk she explained the implications of highly politicised criminal law-making and why creating new offences is not always effective.