Criminal law

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The standard of proof that applies in different types of judicial proceedings may result in quite different verdicts. Shutterstock/Andrey Popov

Judge suspects but must acquit man on child pornography charges

After saying he was 'deeply suspicious', a judge cleared a man of child pornography offences. We need to understand the standard of proof to make sense of verdicts, including AFL rulings on doping.
The most recent allegations against George Brandis stem from Gillian Triggs' evidence to a Senate estimates hearing. AAP/Lukas Coch

Did Brandis break the law in requesting Triggs' resignation?

Regardless of whether George Brandis' action was illegal, it represents an attempt by the very institutions charged with protecting the rule of law to unduly influence it.
Psychiatrists wanted people found ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ to be dispatched to places like the Asylum for Criminal Lunatics Broadmoor. Illustrated London News, 1867/ Public domain, Wikimedia Commons

Psychiatry’s fight for a place in defining criminal responsibility

Are people with “diseases of the mind” responsible for their criminal acts? In the latest article in our series Biology and Blame, Ivan Crozier looks back at how psychiatrists tried to carve out a role…
Philosophers argue that people are not over and above the systems involved in information processing –we are our brains, plus some other, equally physical stuff. Tom Blackwell/Flickr (reszied)

Irresponsible brains? The role of consciousness in guilt

In the second instalment of Biology and Blame, Neil Levy considers how neuroscience can affect legal judgements. Can human beings still be held responsible in the age of neuroscience? Some people say no…
Genetics is just the latest specialist knowledge threatening to take the question of criminal responsibility away from law and hand it over to science. Graham/Flickr

Genes made me do it: genetics, responsibility and criminal law

Welcome to Biology and Blame, a series of articles examining historical and current influences on the notion of criminal responsibility. Today, Arlie Loughnan considers the challenge to the legal system…
The future of Scottish criminal law is in justice secretary Kenny MacAskill’s hands. Danny Lawson/PA Archive

Scrapping corroboration rule will undermine Scottish justice

A woman alleges she was raped by a man she met at a party. She says he forced his way into her flat after walking her home. He claims she invited him in and that the sex was consensual. There are no witnesses…
John Nimmo has been given eight weeks in prison for online abuse. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Court sends the right message in sentencing Criado-Perez trolls

Two people have been jailed for making threats and sending abusive messages on Twitter to Caroline Criado-Perez, the feminist campaigner who sought to have a woman put on a British bank note. Isabella…
Lawyers pass judgement on proposed cuts to legal system. AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Innocents will suffer as legal cuts put paid to due process

It’s not often you see bewigged barristers take to the streets waving placards in protest, but such were the scenes outside the Old Bailey and other courts around the country as defence lawyers demonstrated…
The reason few errors are discovered is that it’s so hard to identify them. Image from

Truth or lies: overturning wrongful convictions

A person is wrongly convicted of a serious crime, then fresh evidence reveals they are, in fact, innocent. It’s a thriller movie formula and you’d hope that if this were to happen, justice would prevail…
The new laws against bikie gangs in Queensland are meant to be ‘tough’ but will innocent riders be affected? AAP image

FactCheck: will the Queensland bikie laws affect innocent riders?

“This legislation will target only criminal motorcycle gang members. Other law abiding motorbike riders have nothing to worry about,” Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, press release, October…
Queensland attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie has taken decisions about detaining sex offenders in prison after their sentences have been served into his own hands. shutterstock

Listen up, Queensland – courts are for justice, politicians are for politics

There is a good constitutional reason for not allowing politicians to make decisions which result in imprisonment. It’s called the separation of powers and is meant to ensure that politics does not intrude…
The offense of defensive homicide in Victoria is said to allow for victim-blaming and misuse of the justice system - should it be abolished? AAP/Dave Hunt

Legitimising lethal male violence: why defensive homicide needs to be abolished

Research published last week revealed that from November 2005 to September 2012, 18 of the 22 cases of defensive homicide in Victoria resulted from homicides perpetrated by a male offender upon a male…
The imprisonment of journalists and human rights activists under the crime of ‘lese-majeste’ laws in Asia should be a cause for concern in the new Asian century. 710928003_Flickr

Crime and business: a cautionary tale in the Asian century

What is the role of the criminal law? In parts of modern day Asia, the criminal law has had another, more troubling, purpose in addition to convicting murders and rapists: protecting those in authority…

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