Early pleas part of state law reform
GETTING criminals to plead guilty to their crimes as early as possible, saving victims from the trauma of appearing in court, is a key part of proposed law reforms in New South Wales, says Attorney-General Greg Smith.
It would also reduce the emotional impact on witnesses and cut back on the amount of time and resources wasted in preparing for a trial, he says.
Mr Smith has asked the NSW Law Reform Commission and its chairman James Wood to undertake four separate investigations over the coming 12 to 18 months.
“Early guilty pleas do not just improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system, they also save victims and witnesses the trauma of preparing for court, only to be excused at the last minute, Mr Smith says in a statement today (Friday).
“We don’t deny an accused the right to have their day in court, but we want to encourage those who will ultimately plead guilty to do so early.”
The other three investigations include looking into the processes for determining parole, statutory provisions for alternative dispute resolution and streamlining the criminal appeal process.
Mr Smith says the outcomes will help inform and shape government policy.
“The review of the parole system will look at ways to ensure it works effectively to protect community safety and reintegrate offenders into society towards the end of their sentence to reduce their chance of reoffending,” he says.
The commission will also focus on developing models for dispute resolution, including court-ordered mediation or other dispute resolution processes.
“Alternative Dispute Resolution is an important and growing area of the law which affects many individuals and helps make the settlement of disputes easier, faster and cheaper,” Mr Smith says.