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We work collaboratively with our clients to build strong, sustainable relationships. Our team is committed to delivering consistent high standards of service, and we understand the importance of accessibility. Working with us, you'll enjoy open communication, meaning well scoped, properly resourced and effectively managed matters.

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Latest Case

Providing strategic advice on expansion structures November 16, 2018

Founded in Bondi Beach in 2012, Bailey Nelson has rapidly grown into a global eyewear retailer and service provider with boutiques in Australia, London, Canada and New Zealand. The strong demand for their products and … Continued

Latest News

Winners of 2019 Maddocks Art Prize announced March 22, 2019

Friday 22 March 2019 Two of Australia’s most talented contemporary visual artists have been awarded the 2019 Maddocks Art Prize. Anna McMahon (ACT/NSW) and Zoë Croggon (Victoria) were last night named the winners of the … Continued

Latest Article

The long wait for franchising inquiry findings is over March 15, 2019

The current regulatory environment has manifestly failed to deter systemic poor conduct and exploitative behaviour and has entrenched the power imbalance [of franchisor’s over franchisees][1] This statement of the Committee sets the tone of the … Continued

Mental impairment as a sentencing consideration

We have recently acted in two separate prosecutions where an Accused has a mental illness. In each instance, the penalty imposed on the Accused was significantly less than imposed in other comparable cases.

It is widely accepted at common law that mental impairment is a relevant consideration for sentencing purposes. The leading authority is R v Verdins (2007) 16 VR 269 (Verdins), a decision of the Supreme Court of Victoria – Court of Appeal.

In Verdins, the Court unanimously held that mental impairment could be relevant to sentencing in at least six ways.  Mental impairment could:

  • reduce an offender’s moral culpability for the offending conduct
  • be relevant to the kind of sentence that is imposed (and the conditions under which that sentence is to be served)
  • moderate or eliminate the weight afforded to the principle of ‘general deterrence’
  • moderate or eliminate the weight afforded to the principle of ‘specific deterrence’
  • cause a given sentence to weigh more heavily on an offender (as compared to a person who does not suffer from mental impairment)
  • justify the imposition of a lesser punishment if there is a serious risk that imprisonment would have a significant adverse effect on the offender’s mental health.

The fact that an offender suffers from mental impairment does not, of itself, justify the imposition of a lesser sentence. The extent to which an offender’s mental impairment is relevant to sentencing will depend on the nature and severity of the symptoms exhibited by a particular offender and the effect of the condition on that particular offender’s mental capacity.

These factors may be applicable where the offender is shown to have had a mental impairment at the time of the offending, at the time of sentencing, or both.

We have recently acted in two separate prosecutions where an Accused has a mental illness. In each instance, the penalty imposed on the Accused was significantly less than imposed in other comparable cases.

It is widely accepted at common law that mental impairment is a relevant consideration for sentencing purposes. The leading authority is R v Verdins (2007) 16 VR 269 (Verdins), a decision of the Supreme Court of Victoria – Court of Appeal.

In Verdins, the Court unanimously held that mental impairment could be relevant to sentencing in at least six ways.  Mental impairment could:

  • reduce an offender’s moral culpability for the offending conduct
  • be relevant to the kind of sentence that is imposed (and the conditions under which that sentence is to be served)
  • moderate or eliminate the weight afforded to the principle of ‘general deterrence’
  • moderate or eliminate the weight afforded to the principle of ‘specific deterrence’
  • cause a given sentence to weigh more heavily on an offender (as compared to a person who does not suffer from mental impairment)
  • justify the imposition of a lesser punishment if there is a serious risk that imprisonment would have a significant adverse effect on the offender’s mental health.

The fact that an offender suffers from mental impairment does not, of itself, justify the imposition of a lesser sentence. The extent to which an offender’s mental impairment is relevant to sentencing will depend on the nature and severity of the symptoms exhibited by a particular offender and the effect of the condition on that particular offender’s mental capacity.

These factors may be applicable where the offender is shown to have had a mental impairment at the time of the offending, at the time of sentencing, or both.