CRIMINAL BAR ASSOCIATION
Three Strikes Law
The Criminal Bar Association strongly supports the initiative by the new Minister of Justice to remove the Three Strikes
Law. The removal is a vote of confidence in our Judges to be able to sentence offenders appropriately after taking into
account all relevant circumstances (both aggravating and mitigating).
Inflexible sentencing policies have unintended consequences and cause disproportionate outcomes. The Three Strikes law
was intended to have unjust consequences with Judges only having a discretion to vary the mandatory sentence when the
level of unjustness reached the threshold of “manifestly unjust”. The Criminal Bar Association believes that no
defendant in a civilised society should receive an unjust sentence.
In practice, the law created problems. Some defendants had no incentive to plead guilty because the judge was required
to impose the maximum sentence without any parole for those facing a third strike. Charges were being plea bargained and
discretions stretched to try to avoid unjust consequences of the Three Strikes law and that created a number of
artificial situations (such as separate charges of theft and assault instead of a single charge of aggravated robbery)
which neither enhanced public confidence nor respect for justice.