Thursday, May 3, 2012

Double jeopardy legislation passes in WA

Laws recently passed in WA mean a person could be tried twice for same offence in certain circumstances. These laws bring WA in line with other Australian jurisdictions.
The WA State Government legislation allowing exceptions to the legal principle of double jeopardy passed through State Parliament today.

Attorney General Christian Porter said the legislation meant those who had walked free from court over alleged serious offences could face a retrial if fresh and compelling evidence came to light.

Previously, the principle of double jeopardy meant a person could not be tried twice for the same offence.

Mr Porter said the legislation was a reflection of the significant advances in forensic science that had been made in recent times, meaning some cases could be retried with the new evidence.

“This important legislation now means Western Australia is in line with other Australian jurisdictions on this issue,” he said.

Amendments to the Criminal Appeals Act 2004 now mean senior legal officers such as the Attorney General or Solicitor General can apply to the Court of Criminal Appeal for permission to retry an acquitted person if fresh and compelling evidence has come to light.

This only applies to the most serious offences under WA law where the penalty is life imprisonment or imprisonment for 14 years or more.
The legislation will be subject to review after 5 years, and has been drafted with the safeguards recommended by the Council of Australian Governments, including that the retrial must be in the interests of justice; there must be a strong case for retrial; and police may not start investigating an acquitted person without the permission of legal authorities.
Christian Porter
Treasurer; Attorney General
Media Statements
Thu 03 May, 2012

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