Cover image: The Supreme Court of Victoria ©
Reproduced with permission of the artist, Simon Fieldhouse
The 2019 edition of this indispensable work offers a comprehensive overview of the law governing the procedures for prosecuting offenders against commonwealth and state law in Victoria in what has become an increasingly detailed and complex component of criminal justice. The major policy changes since the last edition was published in 2015 relate to:
- Adults who have been remanded in custody are to appear via an audiovisual link for routine hearings in the Magistrates’ Court.
- The Bail Act 1977 has been significantly amended to accord primacy to maximising the safety of the community and of persons affected by crime. The creation of new offences of breach of bail conditions has also added substantially to the workload of courts and those serving them.
- The Juries Act 2000 has been amended to alter jury empanelment procedure in significant ways and jury trials have been further expedited by simplification and standardisation of jury directions by the enactment of the Jury Directions Act 2015.
- Changes have been made to the way in which certain vulnerable or impaired witnesses give evidence.
- Trial judges may also adopt an inquisitorial approach to the use of expert witnesses in criminal trials or special hearings under the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 in certain circumstances when mental impairment is in issue.
- The Sentencing Act 1991 has received much attention. Penalties have been enhanced in an effort to reduce crime. For murder and a range of serious offences, standard sentences have been prescribed; parole eligibility for serious offenders has been tightened; and procedures for imposing and enforcing monetary penalties have been revamped.
- The Serious Offenders Act 2018 makes use of civil post-sentence court orders to detain and supervise serious sexual offenders and serious violent offenders despite them having fully served their prison sentences.
The work deals with sources and classifications of law, jurisdiction, machinery of federal and state prosecutions, prosecutorial discretion, representation and legal aid, courts exercising state and federal criminal jurisdiction, contempt, arrest, search and seizure, charges, bail, indictment, procedure in summary prosecutions, committal proceedings, jury trials, sentencing options under state and commonwealth law, and appeals in criminal matters.
** Click here for Detailed Table of Contents **
2. Prosecution and Defence
3. Courts Exercising Criminal Jurisdiction
4. Commencement of Process
6. Offences Triable Summarily
7. Committal Proceedings
8. Trial of Indictable Offences
10. Appeals in Summary Matters
11. Appeals in Indictable Matters
Reviews of previous edition:
This is the fourteenth edition of this text. It is a comprehensive overview of the law governing procedures for prosecuting offenders in Victoria for state and commonwealth offences. The text covers the gamut in a sequential fashion commencing with the initiation of prosecutions, to the procedures before and during summary and indictable hearings, including committals, to sentencing, re-hearings and appeals. It skilfully considers these procedures as they apply to both state and federal offences prosecuted in Victoria. As with previous editions, it is comprehensive, readable, accessible and well indexed.
The statute law reflects the position immediately prior to parliament’s rise for the November 2014 election. The changes introduced by the Jury Directions Act 2013 are considered, particularly the role of the trial judge in summing up and giving directions to the jury. The powers of Victorian courts to regulate when courts may be open or closed to the public are considered in the context of the changes introduced by the Open Courts Act 2013. The absence of any requirement for law enforcement agencies to comply with key elements of six of the 10 Information Privacy Principles (see s 15 of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014) is perhaps one of the less obvious though equally important recent statutory changes.
The case law takes account of judgments delivered up to 22 December 2014. Reference is made to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Strangio v Magistrates Court of Victoria & Anor  VSC 496 in which the Supreme Court considered the availability of relief by way of judicial review in committal proceedings. Reference is made to the recent unanimous judgment of the five-member bench of the Court of Appeal in Boulton v The Queen  VSCA 342. Boulton contains sentencing guidelines on the use of community correction orders. Reference is also made to the High Court’s judgment in Barbaro v R (2014) 305 ALR 323 which considered the role of the prosecution in the process of sentencing by a court. However, the text is essentially practical and will be of much assistance to all those involved in the criminal prosecution process.
Cahal Fairfield, InPrint, Law Institute Journal Victoria, Sept 2015
With its focus on practical advice and up-to-date statute and case law references, this is a useful practitioner text: not only for legal practitioners, but police, correctional officers, and others involved in the administration of criminal justice. Perhaps Queensland-based practitioners will not turn to the text as frequently as our Victorian counterparts, given the focus on Victorian criminal procedure, but the clear discussions on the rules of evidence, for instance, are applicable Australia-wide. The text also considers offences under commonwealth law and the way these are dealt with in state courts. The authorities discussed are predominantly decisions of the High Court of Australia and the Victorian Court of Appeal and should therefore provide helpful guidance for all state and territory jurisdictions.
Queensland Law Reporter – 8 May 2015 –  17 QLR