New Changes to Improve Efficiency in South Australian Criminal Courts

Legislative changes aimed to improve criminal court efficiency within South Australia are now in force. The majority of provisions under the Statutes Amendment (Courts Efficiency Reforms) Act 2012 came into operation on 1 July 2013. When seeking to introduce the legislation, SA Parliament explained:

The primary focus of the Bill is reducing the backlog of criminal cases in the District Court and reducing delays in the finalisation of criminal matters, with the aim of improved efficiency.

The following changes to the South Australian Criminal Justice System include:

  • The maximum sentence of imprisonment that may be imposed by Magistrates for a single offence has been increased from two years to five years. The maximum sentence of imprisonment that may be imposed by a Magistrate for multiple offences is now limited to ten years (Section 19, Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988)

  • Magistrates may now impose sentences for certain major indictable offences (Section 9, Magistrates Court Act 1991 and Sections 103, 105 & 108, Summary Procedure Act, 1921)

  • Magistrates may now impose sentences for major indictable offences (other than treason, murder, or an attempt or conspiracy to commit, or assault with intent to commit, either of those offences) in the Youth Court (Section 14, Youth Court Act 1993)

  • Courts may make orders to rectify sentencing errors of a technical nature or to supply deficiencies or remove ambiguities in sentencing orders. (Section 9A, Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988)

  • Determinations or orders made by judges in earlier proceedings are now to be binding on trial judges (Section 285AB, Criminal Law Consolidation Act, 1935)

Coincidently, the above changes have come into force shortly after it has been stated that recent retiring judges will not be replaced due to budget restrictions. The failure to replace such judges is expected to impact adversely on the efficiency of the courts.

>> Statutes Amendment (Courts Efficiency Reforms) Act 2012
>> Statutes Amendment (Courts Efficiency Reforms) Bill - Second Reading Speech


The information contained within this article is intended as a general overview and discussion of the subjects dealt with. The information provided here was accurate as of the day it was posted; however, the law may have changed since that date. This information is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a substitute for taking legal advice in any specific situation. Craig Fabbian and Fabbian Lawyers are not responsible for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this information.