HAS COVID-19 IMPACTED CRIMINAL SENTENCING?

Posted by the defenders on March 17th, 2021

Covid-19 has significantly impacted society’s structure and has even altered the operation of the justice system, influencing new court outcomes and results. If you have been convicted of a criminal charge or even a drink driving charge, you should be aware of the impact that Covid-19 might have on your criminal proceeding.

It is crucial to speak to a professional criminal defence lawyer who can provide you with expert advice that is up to date with current Covid-19 practices and help you understand the processes involved thoroughly. Our experienced criminal defence lawyers in Paramatta at The Defenders are experienced professionals in criminal sentences. Hiring the right Sydney criminal defence lawyer for your case will give you the best chance for a favourable outcome.

Criminal Offences NSW Statistics

Crime statistics from the past year of 2020 have shown many major differences when compared to historical norms. In particular, Sydney criminal lawyers have seen violent crimes fall sharply in April 2020, by up to 55% lower rates, as an effect of community lockdowns throughout Australia to reduce the spread of the pandemic. According to the most recent quarterly crime statistics in September 2020, criminal offending has reportedly increased but, in most cases, has not returned to high pre-pandemic levels.

While Sydney criminal lawyers have seen a large majority of criminal offences dramatically decreased in the past year, sexual assault rose 10% from the past year due to the rise in contemporary child sexual assault reports. In addition, five major criminal offences have been stable, including, domestic assault, murder, indecent assault, robbery with a firearm and robbery with a weapon not a firearm. Overall, experienced Sydney criminal lawyers have expressed that violent crimes appear to be returning to pre-pandemic levels more quickly than property crimes.

Custody Statistics NSW Statistics

NSW prison population declined by 11% or 1,508 people in March-May as a response to the threat of Covid-19. Sydney criminal lawyers also saw this decline carry over to the youth detention population, which showed a decrease of 27% or 73 detainees from February to June 2020.  The cause of this remarkable reduction is due to both justice and community strategies aimed at limiting the spread of Covid-19, including the decline of court hearings and police charges. Sydney criminal lawyers have seen more favourable bail decisions in courts and a jump in people released from remand to wait for their court case in the community.

The most recent custody statistics released by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research in November 2020, show the NSW prison population remaining steady after the massive decline in May due to the Covid restrictions and lockdowns. Again, Sydney criminal lawyers have seen the youth detention population with the lowest custody rates in history.

Virtual Courtrooms

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research Study “Estimating the impact of audio-visual link on being granted bail”, published in February 2021, analysed the casual impact of appearing via audio-visual methods on the likelihood of being granted bail.

Audio-visual methods used by Sydney criminal lawyers include various video conferencing equipment, like Zoom, to facilitate court appearance, limiting the need for in-person appearances. Most commonly, a defendant in custody from a Correctional Centre appears in court rather than in-person.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual courtrooms were already on a steady increase in the past decade, with an average one-third of first-time bail hearings in NSW conducted digitally. In a post-covid world, this average has increased dramatically to now, where most Sydney criminal lawyers use some form of audio-visual in a bail proceeding.

Audio-visual methods offer “considerable logistical and efficiency benefits for Justice agencies, including reduced defendant transport and improved security.” However, many Sydney criminal lawyers have raised concerns about the technology’s innate nature to create distance between the defendant and the court, as a result affecting the remorse felt by juries and judges.

The researchers examined the impact of bail outcomes, by comparing multiple individuals at their first-time court bail hearing. Paralleling the differences between an audio-visual court to similar individuals appearing in person to court, over the same period between January 2018 and February 2020.

Using three different statistical approaches, logistic regression, mixed-effects regression and a generalised random forest. The data found no meaningful difference in the likelihood of bail refusal for defendants appearing digitally when compared to those who appear in person. The data also found no evidence for audio-visual methods to affect a specific subgroup like gender, race, type of offence or remoteness of their area.

Given the importance of a criminal proceeding’s outcome, it is essential for Sydney criminal lawyers and Sydney defendants to confirm that audio-visual methods do not impact the judicial decision, particularly in a modern and post-Covid society.

Searching for Experienced Criminal Lawyers Parramatta?

When searching for a reputable criminal defence lawyer to defend your case, it is imperative that you find a Sydney criminal lawyer who has both experience and a high success rate in helping their clients to achieve positive outcomes. Whether you are facing a summary criminal offence, a minor criminal offence, a major criminal offence or any other type of offence, experienced Sydney criminal lawyers are imperative in providing you with the best possible defence.

Benjamin Leonardo are outstanding Criminal Defence Lawyers. They understand the strain criminal offence cases have on their clients and families alike and provide sympathetic, non-judgemental expert advice and support to their clients. With offices in Sydney and Parramatta, conveniently located near both the local and district courts, they will make the process of your legal criminal defence transparent and manageable.

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the defenders
Joined: March 17th, 2021
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