Give victims the right to appeal soft sentences

This article originally appeared in the Herald-Sun on 30 October 2018.

Earlier this year, two women were convicted of assaulting a paramedic but avoided prison after a judge found there were special circumstances justifying a more lenient punishment. The Victorian public were outraged.

Although the Government tightened the laws around offences against emergency services workers, the public’s confidence in the courts had already been shaken. This is a problem because Australians have consistently reported low confidence in the courts, especially their protection of victims’ interests.

Any one of us could be a victim of crime, and if that happens, we need to know that the standards applied by the courts will be in line with our community values. We need to trust that the courts have the same idea of justice that we have.

To hold judges to this expectation, when a sentence for a serious crime is unjustly lenient, victims should be able to direct the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to seek leave to appeal the sentence.

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