WA’s mandatory sentencing laws strengthened

Offenders who assault public officers will be forced to serve their full minimum jail sentence before being eligible for parole under new measures which have come into effect this month. Western Australia’s tough mandatory sentencing laws have been tightened to ensure any adult convicted of either assaulting a public officer, or dangerous driving causing death or serious injury while evading police, spend their mandatory minimum term in custody.

Attorney General Michael Mischin said while the Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2009, which imposed mandatory terms of imprisonment, did not seek to alter the existing law surrounding parole, it had become clear that amendments were necessary.

“A case last year where an offender convicted of assaulting a police officer was granted parole after four-and-a-half months in jail highlighted the need for changes,” Mr Mischin said.

“When the original legislation was introduced, the State Government announced that offenders would face mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment.

“The amendments protect the integrity of the legislation and ensure the laws function as intended.”

Offenders face a minimum jail term of 12 months for doing grievous bodily harm to police and other public officers; nine months for doing them bodily harm (in circumstances of aggravation); and six months for assault causing bodily harm.

There is a mandatory minimum 12-month jail term for a driver who attempts to escape a police pursuit and engages in dangerous driving which causes death or serious injury.