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Criminal Laws Northern Territory

Criminal Laws Northern Territory

3rd edition

By Stephen Gray, Jenny Blokland, Ben Grimes and Julian R Murphy


This book is now available for purchase from VitalSource as an ebook. See

This is the third edition of a unique Australian criminal law textbook. The book is unusual among criminal law textbooks because of its attention to the history of the criminal law, and to Indigenous legal issues, to which it devotes specific chapters. It also pays significant attention to criminal procedure, as well as sentencing – both areas not generally dealt with in standard texts, but of great use particularly to practitioners.

The book is unique, however, not only in that it is specific to the Northern Territory, which is alone in Australia in possessing both ‘Code’ and ‘non-Code’ jurisdictions, but also because of its detailed focus on cultural and linguistic questions and their relationship to the criminal law.

The third edition brings the book up-to-date in light of significant developments in the nine years since the last edition, including the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children. Consequential amendments have been made to all chapters, and particularly the chapters focusing on criminal responsibility. The book also contains a new chapter entirely devoted to linguistic issues in the criminal law.


Foreword by The Hon Michael Grant, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory
Table of Cases
Table of Statutes

1. Introduction
2. History of Northern Territory Criminal Law
3. Aboriginal People and Northern Territory Criminal Law
4. Language and the Law
5. Investigation and Procedure
6. Criminal Responsibility under the Territory Code
7. Involuntariness, mental impairment and intoxication
8. Partial Defences: Provocation and Diminished Responsibility
9. Self-Help Defences
10. Mistake
11. Complicity and Inchoate Offences
12. Homicide
13. Offences Against the Person
14. Sexual Offences
15. Property Offences
16. Public Order
17. Sentencing and Associated Orders



Reviews of previous editions:

While at first glance such a publication could be easily overlooked by Victorian practitioners browsing the shelves of their legal bookshop, it is in fact an informative and unique book about the criminal law. It provides information useful for comparative purposes in criminal law as well as a greater understanding of the dynamic historical, cultural and political forces that shape the criminal law.
The text … will appeal particularly to criminal lawyers with an interest in indigenous issues. The author, Stephen Gray, is best known as a distinguished novelist … he is also a senior lecturer in law at Charles Darwin University.
The book attempts to provide a critical perspective placing criminal law issues in the Northern Territory in the context of policy and legal controversies both nationally and globally. It also places the intersection between indigenous people and the criminal justice system at the critical centre which prevents the issues being overlooked by their cursory inclusion in a chapter of a more general criminal law text. The book has a necessary historical focus which places the current issues within the social, political and cultural legacy of frontier European colonisation. The book not only encourages consideration of the significant impact the criminal law has had on indigenous people but also the unique ways in which the presence and participation of indigenous people has shaped the criminal law.
What distinguishes this legal text from other texts is the author’s ability to deliver both practical information on areas such as investigation, process and procedure; sentencing; criminal responsibility under the Territory Code; defences; information about a range of offences from homicide and sexual offences to public order offences; as well as a deeper theoretical understanding of the forces which have shaped and continue to shape the development of the Northern Territory criminal jurisprudence.

Law Institute Victoria Criminal Law Section Newsletter, June 2004

Common Law trained lawyers and Code lawyers alike will bring their own opinions to the initial points raised in Chapter 1 commenting on our system that is the only true hybrid system currently operating in Australian criminal justice.
Chapter 2 is my own favourite, drawing as it does on legal historical sources and the interaction between the general legal system and indigenous people, … the chapters on procedure, the substantive law and sentencing [are] extremely useful. The text is well footnoted and documented and includes sources beyond reported cases and statutes. Even those well versed in the intricate twists and turns of criminal law and procedure will benefit from the orderly collection and clear discussion of case law and associated materials.

Jenny Blokland SM, Magistrates' Chambers, Darwin NT


Published 26 February 2021
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781760022587
Australian RRP $95.00
International Price $90.00
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Law - Criminal Law & Procedure

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