FREE lectures this July. Places booking out fast. HSC: book here. VCE: book here.

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

June 26, 2019, 03:38:59 am

Author Topic: Legal Studies: Guide to the Course!  (Read 2996 times)  Share 

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

jamonwindeyer

  • Administrator
  • It's Over 9000!!
  • *****
  • Posts: 10126
  • Electrical Engineer by day, AN Enthusiast by Night
  • Respect: +3020
Legal Studies: Guide to the Course!
« on: July 27, 2015, 10:12:35 am »
+9
Hey everyone! Here are all the Legal Crime guides in one post!

Laws and Statistics
Spoiler
Hello everyone! Trials are just around the corner, and for Legal Studies, less than a week away! Scary! But fear not; with the right preparation, you will smash the exam and then do even better in your HSC exams.

65% of your mark in Legal comes from essays, and another 15 in extended response/short answer. This means you’ll have to write a lot; probably the equivalent of about 2500 words all up. But what the hell do you write about in the first place? Well, that is what these Legal Guides will be for, evidence for your essays! These guides explain EVERY case, EVERY law, EVERY treaty, and EVERY argument that I took into the HSC exams. So, if you read and remember this, you’ll be armed with the stuff that got me a state rank. Sound good?

Note: The only thing I won’t include is media articles. You should source your own, more current articles. You are looking for articles which highlight legal issues you are discussing, link to things you are talking about, etc. Essentially, don’t just include anything, it should have relevance! Further, it should be as current as possible (I included articles from the news on the morning of my exam). I won't include statistics for the same reason. Both are easy to find and should be as current as possible.

I’m going to structure these guides in a sort of strange way (and only Core content will be covered at the moment). I am going to do a separate guide for International Crime and Young Offenders, since they are stand alone issues, and an essay on them should be treated as such. However, an essay on anything else should integrate everything that you know, and so, I am integrating the guides. To save you from reading a 5000 word guide, I am splitting it in half. This one will focus on legislation you should know! And then we’ll do cases, with a section at the end on how to tie it all together.

As always, remember to register for an account and ask any questions you have below! It takes no time at all, and is an awesome chance to pick the brains of your peers. Let’s begin!

Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)
Obviously, this simply details the criminal actions which begin the process in the first place. Not much to delve into here, or at least so it would seem. However, this act also contains the maximum penalties applicable for each offence. Some interesting arguments can ensue here. For one, this is vital in protecting civil liberties, by preventing arbitrary uses of power by a judge. It plays into the checks and balances approach of the Separation of Powers. However you can also argue that these maximum penalties limit the flexibility of sentencing, and stagnate the legal response to criminal actions. Since, of course, laws are slower to change than a judges mind, Some interesting stuff to discuss.

Crimes (Sentencing and Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW)
This act governs the aggravating and mitigating factors which can be considered in sentencing, as well as other considerations. Essentially, it places some restrictions on judicial interpretation. This is one of the ones you should mention when discussing cases, not much you can say here that can’t be said better with case law.


Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001 (NSW)
This act governs the appellate jurisdiction of courts (ie-appeals). Thus, it is an absolutely essential inclusion to any discussion of an appeal case, or any discussion of the effectiveness of Australia’s courts. Essentially, having a process for appeals guarantees the serving of justice and limits the impact of legal errors. You can do any sort of evaluation here you like; perhaps even argue that the appeal process is too “allowing,” and thus restricts the efficiency of the judicial hierarchy. Lots of ways to bend it, but it’s hard to argue that appeals are anything but a good thing for all concerned (except administrative burdens and the like).


Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW)
Known more colloquially as LEPRA, this is the big one. Every right contained by police is in here. You should analyse this in terms of your argument. For one, the powers allow law enforcement to protect community interests and safety, by monitoring and preventing certain criminal actions. However, these additional powers come at the expense of civil liberties and individual freedoms. There is lots of potential for in depth argument here, based on specific cases and (particularly) media articles. One thing you should definitely mention is that LEPRA is continually being expanded to include new, even more intrusive powers. A big example is an expanded use of covert searches after the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Amendment (Search Powers) Act 2009 (NSW) .

There have been several instances of the NSW Law Reform Commission condemning the actions of police, notably in regard to the excessive use of arrests. Inquiries by the NSW LRC have found that arrests are NOT used as a last resort (how they are supposed to be used) in most circumstances. This is a nice little piece of an argument for almost any topic.

Bail Act 2013 (NSW)
What you should know is that this act was originally brought into force in 1978. It was amended so many times, they re wrote the bloody thing. This shows that bail is a continuing area of criminal law reform. Again, the key issue here is a balance between individual rights and community/victim safety. Of course, the innocent before proven guilty presumption is a human right, but remand ignores this. Yet, it is for community safety. There are MANY instances of an offence being committed on bail, so often that I’m not even going to include my example in the list below; google “Bail,” and take your pick. It is a continuing issue, so get a contemporary example.

The NSW Law Reform Commission submitted a report in 2012, prior to the new act taking effect, which suggested that bail should be a rebuttable presumption in all circumstances. That is, presumption against bail shouldn’t exist. It was ignored, but a good thing to mention.

Victims Rights Act 1996 (NSW)
The Victims Rights Act is a super important inclusion for any “balancing rights” question. Summarised, it introduced Victim Impact Statements , a way for victims to play a role in the sentencing process. This is especially important for sensitive areas such as Domestic Violence. Use this law as evidence for effectively guaranteeing the victims rights, or criticise it for not doing enough.

EG- A nice argument I made once was that the legal system seems to invest so much time in protecting victims, it has forgotten to stop the criminals in the first place, sighting the ineffectiveness of bail laws and police powers which, if they worked, would prevent the need for the Victims Rights Act in the first place. Complex arguments like this, argued well and supported properly, score big points.


Jury Act 1977 (NSW)
Handles juries. This one of those ones just to mention while making an argument. You can argue that juries are an essential way of integrating community interests in the judicial process. Or, you can argue that they are inefficient and more prone to legal error and corruption. Take your pick, although the Jury Amendment (Verdicts) Act 2006 (NSW) did a lot to solve those aforementioned issues.

Treaties
Though not as important in a Crime essay, dropping one or two international treaties is a nice piece of insurance. It is easy in a balancing rights question, I mean, where do the rights come from? The easiest to mention is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights , which protects civilians from arbitrary uses of power by the government. Things like arrest without cause, suppressing political discussion, etc, all big no nos. It can tie nicely into something like bail:

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2012, almost 25% of Australian prisoners were not convicted, held in custodial remand. This figure is clear evidence of Australia’s failure to meet international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which ensures freedom from arbitrary arrest to all individuals.

Bam. Awesome, well considered point. And a nice statistic for you as well. Speaking of which, to close, a word on…

Statistics
Let’s get something straight; BOSTES knows you aren’t the Bureau of Statistics. They don’t expect you to know the prosecution rate for murder, the number of individuals released on bail last year, etc. Nor do you need statistics to get a Band 6 in Legal. It’s all about building your argument, however you choose, and statistics are a neat little way to convince the marker you are legit. They are easy to find too. I didn’t have that statistic above, I just googled “Bail vs Remand Statistics.”

Including a statistic lets you bring in some knowledge, and tie in a Legal Response along the way (either ABS, or whatever other Legal Body is responsible for the statistic). The week before my exam, I just made half a page of about 7-8 statistics to try and remember, that would back up what I wanted to say. That way they are current, personalised, and fresh in the mind. Also notice, you don’t have to remember the exact number. “Almost a quarter,” “over half,” “close to zero,”… It all works well.

Oh, and as for the “making up statistics” frame of mind? BOSTES markers will not sit there and fact check you. They don’t have time. That being said, it is Legal teachers who will have, probably, a much better knowledge of the Legal System than you. Chances are, they’ll spot it if you put in a  whole bunch of made up stuff.

So, these are all the laws you will need for the Crime essay in your exams, and hopefully by reading about them, you’ve got some nifty ideas for where you can take your arguments too. The way to prepare? Write these laws down in a list with your cases, treaties, law reform reports, stats, anything else you need to remember. And just study that first; make sure you remember everything. Then, start looking at questions, scribbling at arguments, and see what you can use from the massive bank of stuff you’ve accumulated. That’s the hardest bit, choosing what evidence is the best. But really, come up with a well thought out argument and link it to evidence which is even somewhat relevant, and you are already on a really good track.

So, that’s it! Stay tuned for the next half of the guide, coming very soon, which will have a whole bunch of super relevant cases, and let me know if there is interest for a last minute essay guide. Just register for an account and let me know. Otherwise, good luck for Trials, on Wednesday, and the rest! Happy study!

Cases
Spoiler
Hello everyone! Welcome to Part 2 of this guide series, focused on arming you with the evidence you need for your Legal Trial and HSC essays, and some ways you could use it. The first half focused on legislation; this half will focus on cases, and putting everything together into a nice argument. Be sure to let me know if a more structured, generic essay guide is something of interest!

As always, remember to register for an account and ask any questions you have below! It takes no time at all, and is an awesome chance to pick the brains of your peers.

So, cases. I’m basically just going to do a list. I’ll detail what happened, go into legal significance, and how you could use the case in an argument(s). You should supplement this list with more contemporary examples, but even just knowing this list would well equip you to supplement pretty much any essay response! Mix of circumstances, mixed level of detail… It’s a good mix of stuff. I’ll provide only the basic details which I think are necessary for the case to be used properly in an essay.

R v Singh (2012)

This was a manslaughter case involving domestic violence. The offender killed his wife (in a very vicious manner) after he was threatened with deportation. He successfully utilised the defence of provocation , was found guilty of manslaughter, and imprisoned.

This case is controversial and worthy of discussion in an essay for several reasons. For one, the provocation defence utilised, which essentially states that the offenders actions were partially justified. On one side, you can say that this evidences the flexibility of the judicial system, and its ability to account for a variety of circumstances (can work for a variety of arguments). On the other side, and perhaps a little easier to argue, you can use this case to evidence the flawed nature of such defences. A man brutally killed his wife; how can any provocation justify that?

Very deep case, lots of room to bend the argument how you please.

R v Hickey (1995)

Another case with a defence, this one with historical significance. This was the first successful use of Battered Woman’s Syndrome as a partial defence, very similar to provocation. This is more of a case to mention in support of another argument, rather than as the focus of one. Besides the defence used, not really much to discuss here.

R v Loveridge (2013)

This is an infamous case with a background which may be less known. Good chance to mention, always refer to cases properly where possible, never by their popular name. A “king hit,” resulted in the death of the victim. The offender was imprisoned, charged with manslaughter.

Two avenues of discussion here. One; this was the case which spurred the big mandatory sentencing debate in regard to king hits. Mandatory sentencing is a cool thing to mention in a crime essay; its the subject of massive controversy. For one, guaranteeing punishments can act as a deterrent and improve community safety. However, it massively impedes on individual rights to justice. If you are talking about this AT ALL, mention this case.

Second, plea bargaining. This is another cool thing to mention; basically it is where the defendant agrees to plea guilty to one thing in exchange for another charge being dropped. In this case, the defender pleaded guilty to manslaughter instead of trying to fight a murder charge. Plea bargaining is viewed negatively for many reasons; it renders the trial process and jury useless, impedes on justice, can inspire corruption, etc. You can argue that the defendant may feel pressured to conduct a plea bargain. But it does have administrative advantages. Again, lots of room to move with how this case can be used, but any argument about plea bargaining would benefit from this in some regard.

R v Franklin (2009)

This is a good case to include when discussing mitigating factors. The offender was charged with kidnap and sexual assault, but his prison term was lessened based on factors of intoxication and psychological illness. Again, argue this either way. The mitigating factors are essential in guaranteeing a just sentencing process tailored to the individual crime. However, they may be viewed as restrictive to the rights of the victim. A very flexible piece of evidence which you can use to simply give an example of mitigating factors.

R v Taber (2002)

This fulfils the exact same function for aggravating factors. The offender was found guilty of murder, with aggravating factors including an elderly victim and lack of remorse. However, this case was also appealed by the defendant (Taber v R (2003)) and the charge was changed to manslaughter. This is a nice thing to bring up when discussing the review process in Australia, either for or against, simply argue it how you please.

Dietrich v Queen (1992)

This is one of those historically significant cases that will get you big brownie points if you mention it. This is the case which first established the right to adequate legal representation in court. So, arguably, it spurred the formation of the NSW Legal Aid Commission, and whole idea of Legal Aid in the first place. A very nice case to briefly mention in a crime essay of any kind which talks about the Trial process, and particularly, how it balances the rights of offender and state.

R v Abraham (2013)

A nice contemporary murder case, the infamous Kiesha Abrahams case. The offender received over 15 years in jail. I used this in an essay, arguing that even in these horrific, well documented circumstances (insert media article here), the maximum penalty was not utilised. Essentially, I argued that the maximum penalties are pointless because they are never used by judges, who are reluctant to be punished by a appellate process which rewards the offender far too often. This is an example of how a simple case can be bent to suit your argument, borrow it if you like.

Andrea Patrick Case (1993)

The identity of the offender in this case was not disclosed, hence the colloquial name. It is a common inclusion for the Family Law elective, so the markers know about it, no worries. Essentially, the victim was murdered despite a violence order being placed against the offender. A nice inclusion for any essay arguing that victims are not adequately protected. More suited for Family Law essays on domestic violence, but I used it in Crime Essays a lot, particularly in arguing the ineffectiveness of the investigation process. It’s hard to find cases in this area, and this one suits nicely.

Between these 8 cases, you can cover any aspect of trial and sentencing, and even address some things about the investigation process. It’s a nice set of easy to remember cases which, supplemented with another one or two of your own, will form a well rounded bank of evidence for your essays. But how do you combine this with the rest of your evidence to form a solid argument? Well, without writing an essay guide, there are three steps:

1- What is the argument you want to make? You should have a few of these ready to go in the exam, for any area of Crime (same for electives). They will be your opening sentence, for example: “While the best of intentions are present, law reform has ultimately rendered Australia’s legal system incapable of consistently protecting the rights of victims in criminal situations.”

2- Figure out what you have to show, and select your evidence. For the argument above, you would be looking for evidence of changes which limit the rights of the victim in criminal cases. This could be cases such as R v Singh (2012), evaluation of laws, etc. You should pick arguments which flow easily from the evidence you have. For example, my evidence bank suited a balanced argument from several directions, which equally addressed victim, offender and community. I have enough to write any essay on any area, but this is where I tailored my preparation. Be mindful of this, and be sure to bend the essay question where you want it to go.

3- Divide your evidence into sections and evaluate each section! This is easiest to do in terms of the syllabus; investigation, trial and sentencing. Easy three paragraph structure. Bring up one piece of evidence at a time, and make sure you make a JUDGEMENT for each piece of evidence. Did the system do good or bad? Why? Be clear and critical in your analysis.

Now, the cases and laws in this two part guide are not the be all and end all of evidence. You can, and should, supplement this with some contemporary articles, perhaps some statistics, and anything else you’ve already worked with in class. However, even just walking in with these cases and laws, I guarantee you’d have at least an adequate amount of evidence to answer any crime question (besides Young Offenders and International Crime, guides for them are on the way!).

So, that’s it! Keep hanging around for more guides on Young Offenders and International Crime, and you'll be super prepared for any essay question! Be sure to register for an account and let me know if there was any questions, or any other way I can be of help. Otherwise, good luck for all your Trials and happy study!

International Crime
Spoiler
Hello everyone! Welcome to another guide which will give you some evidence for you to include in your Trial exam for legal in less than a week! Been a bit slack on looking for cases and laws? Never fear, these guides will give you the starting blocks for an awesome essay.

This guide is going to look at International Crime. This is a super common essay question. However, it was asked in the CSSA Trial last year. So, could it be asked again? Maybe, but they are likely not to repeat themselves. But is it a very likely candidate for the HSC? Oh hell yeah. Either way, be prepared, and let’s look at the key cases, laws, responses, etc, that you should include in your essay.

As always, remember to register for an account and ask any questions you have below! It takes no time at all, and is an awesome chance to pick the brains of your peers.

Laws

First up, the big laws. International Crime is a domestic and international issue, so you should have a mix of both. Feel free to borrow criminal legislation from my other guides to use in any capacity which you find relevant. However, some additions which probably only have relevance here.

Rome Statute (2002)

This treaty establishes the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction for member nations. You should remember that the ICC convicts criminals charged with crimes against humanity. No IC essay is complete without mentioning this. For brownie points, mention that Australia is a signatory, and that the treaty is enforced under the International Criminal Court Act 2002 (Cth) .

The Geneva Conventions (1949)

These conventions contain international standards regarding interstate (international) conflict. An essential mention when talking about international cooperation, and obviously easy to appraise. For something more tricky, you can talk about the fact that this is a piece of soft law , it cannot be enforced in any way. Big drawback, and a search of the news the morning of your Trials will undoubtedly give you some examples of countries breaking these conventions to play with!

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

This convention imposes conditions on member states to prevent genocide. It would play the same role in an argument as the Geneva Conventions, but it is a bit more niche, and the markers will be more impressed in this, since it isn’t a piece of common knowledge. It’s kind of like cooking a lobster instead of fish, just that little bit more flashy to include something that not everyone knows. Simple solution, include both.

Australian Federal Police Act 1919 (Cth)

I mentioned that domestic legislation is essential, and this is a nice one to include. This act is what gives federal police the powers they need to stop transnational crime. You can argue the usual stuff about police powers (see my other guides), or for a little more, pull in human rights and use the recent Bali executions as an example. Don’t go full human rights essay though, it’s easy to get confused. Also don’t forget to mention other agencies, like Australian Customs and Border Protection, for extra bonus marks. The more responses you include, the better, and you can still just evaluate them collectively (to a degree).

Treaty on Extradition Between Australia and the United States (1974)

This is my favourite piece of law to include, because I doubt almost anyone else will. Well, I’ve told everyone now, so maybe, but yeah. A very sophisticated argument to make is that international crime can only be dealt with by cooperating nation states. This treaty represents cooperation between Australia and the US; they agree to extradite criminals back and forth to be prosecuted. It works nicely with that argument, or any argument concerning cooperation between nation states.

Next, cases!

Cases

There are quite a few you can include, but here are my favourites.

United States of America v Griffiths (2004)

The offender was extradited from Australia to the US and jailed for breach of US copyright. Awesome evidence of international cooperation, and absolutely works best for “this was effective” arguments. Hard to criticise, but this is my favourite case since I studied it extensively in Year 11, so I’m likely a little biased. I highly recommend you include it if you talk about cooperation AT ALL.

Prosecutor v Dyilo (2012)/Prosecutor v Katanga (2014)

These are the only two convictions made by the ICC. It is a big must to include these in any essay, and you can use it in any way you please. Argue that the ICC has shown success in prosecuting two prominent war criminals, thus evidencing the beginnings of an effective mechanism for combatting international crime. Or argue that high costs (over 1 billion US dollars, nice statistic to include) do not justify only two convictions, and that the ICC is essentially powerless due to state sovereignty anyway. Both work nicely, you could even weigh them against each other.

The Wonderland Club (1998)

Rather than a single case, this was actually a whole bunch of cases. A number of child pornographers were arrested simultaneously in almost half a dozen countries, evidencing effective cooperation between nation states. Or, you can argue that it was ineffective, though I’m not sure how you can put a negative spin on locking up child pornographers. If you can do some research though, go for it!

R v Ho et al (2012)

This was a people trafficking case. The offender was charged under the Criminal Code in Australia, the Criminal Code (Trafficking in Persons Offences) Amendment Act 2005 (Cth) specifically. Shows a nice example of domestic laws working effectively to deal with transnational crime.

Responses

Beyond talking about cases and laws, the backbone of your essay should be responses. How is the legal system dealing with international crime? The laws and cases add detail to your examples, and allow you to critically evaluate their effectiveness. Let’s look at some things you should be touching on.

International Criminal Court

You should absolutely be evaluating the ICC. For one, it has prosecuted two criminals, and has a wide reach. Good stuff. However, it is easily paralysed by state sovereignty and yields extremely high costs, probably too high to justify the current progress. Take this how you please.

Domestic Responses

To add some variety, make sure to include a paragraph on the domestic response. This could be as simple as talking about the federal police, and do some media research into a recent drug bust. Easy evidence for you to include. Think cases as well, including ones involving cooperation with other countries.

United Nations

A definite thing to mention, particularly the UNSC. Lots of debates to be had here; the whole “toothless tiger” thing plays nicely in an International Crime essay. Talk about state sovereignty as a restriction, find some media articles, you can flex this one in pretty much any direction you choose. Although slightly old news now, the whole North Korea thing is a perfect example. Or, for a less well known example, google the article: “U.S. is asked to hold Sudan Leader if he visits U.N.” .

The big thing I always came back to in my essays was cooperation; cooperation is essential to combatting international crime. This may be a theme you wish to use in your essay. Argued well, it can definitely achieve 20/20.

International Crime is, I think, one of the easier parts of the course, and if you get it as an essay question, you should cheer! It is quite easy to find interesting evidence and statistics. Just focus on what works, and what doesn’t, and prove it. The fancy arguments can come with practice, but you can absolutely score 20/20 with the good old line: The legal system proves somewhat effective in addressing international crime, ultimately proving more effective in some areas than others. Easy, room to move the argument in virtually any direction, and my go-to starter for an IC question.

So, that’s International Crime. One more guide on Young Offenders on the way, and then, you’ll be prepared for any essay question in your trials! The principles and tricks I talk about can absolutely be applied to your electives, and laws and cases can even be borrowed. Share your notes around, help each other, and you’ll be surprised what you can achieve. And, as always, remember to register for an account and get in touch below! Happy study, and good luck for trials!

Young Offenders
Spoiler
Hello everyone! Welcome to the last guide in this series, which I’m hoping will have you feeling lots more confident for your Crime essay, and maybe even put you in the right frame of mind to do well in your elective essays too! The trials are right around the corner, and before I even start, I want to wish everyone the best of luck! Remember, feel free to take a second and register for an account and ask me for any tips or tricks, or any questions you had. I’m happy to help!

So, this last guide will be a little shorter than normal. It is going to cover Young Offenders. Now, I’ll start by saying, getting an essay that is completely restricted to young offenders is quite unlikely, and if it happens, you are quite unlucky. It’s a very small part of the course and their isn’t a whole lot to talk about. But it has happened before, and could happen again, so like it or not, you should be prepared. And, beyond that, this stuff can be slotted into another Crime question to give you that little bit more depth. Either way, stuff you should know! Like the other guides, I’ll go over the essential laws, cases, responses and concepts you should discuss, in a quick little guide to read over the night before your Trial.

Laws

There are a few pieces of legislation you should definitely consider a mention in an essay/paragraph on young offenders. Rather than analysing them directly, these laws probably will just be your evidence for a more over-arching argument, which I’ll talk about later.

Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 (NSW)

This act covers all issues concerned with the sentencing of children. The main priorities are rehabilitation, education, and relationships. This is one you can mention to back up any number of arguments, and should come up if you discuss the sentencing of a young criminal.

Young Offenders Act 1997

This act sets up the three tier system (warning, caution, YJC), the evaluation of which I’ll mention later. It also governs some specific police conduct in terms of young people.

Law Enforcement (Power and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW)

Most police conduct is handled by a section of this act. Any argument of how police powers apply to minors should contain a mention of this.

Children’s Court Act 1987 (NSW)

Pretty obvious, established the Children’s Courts. If you do a Young Offenders essay, or a paragraph on young offenders in court, without mentioning this… The marker will be very surprised.

Convention on the Rights of the Child

The main international treaty governing children and their human rights. This is the one document you can evaluate by itself in some depth, since there are not really other international responses to speak of here. For one, it is a far reaching and influential piece of law which has an obvious effect on domestic lawmakers. Conversely, it is soft law, and cannot be enforced to any effective degree. Pick your side, and let loose, its a nice inclusion. Be careful not to talk about international stuff too much, the focus should be on the domestic response, but CROC should definitely appear.

Cases

This is where we run into an issue; young criminals are kept anonymous in most situations. Cases are very difficult to come by. The easiest way to get them is to explore some media articles in the days before your exam; that way they are current and the marker will have an idea of what you are talking about, even without the proper case reference.

The one case I would definitely suggest mentioning is the Corey Davis Case (1999) . The markers see it enough to know what it is. Basically, a 10 year old was charged with manslaughter after pushing a 6 year old into a river. This case lends well to a discussion of doli incapax, from either end. It’s simply a matter of whether you argue that the conviction was justified, or otherwise. Or, you can simply use it as an example of a case where doli incapax was successfully rebutted (which is rare).

Responses

The easiest way to structure a young offenders essay is around the welfare and justice models of dealing with young criminals. Essentially, do we punish them severely as a deterrent, or do we recognise that they are not adults and punish very leniently. My essays in this area would discuss how the Australian legal response is not meeting international obligations (under CROC) to establish a welfare based approach to young criminal behaviour, instead falling too often into retributive approaches. You may argue the exact reverse, there is lots of room for interesting, balanced arguments.

Either way, there are a few responses or ideas that you should be evaluating in essays on young offenders.

First is the three tier system of warnings, cautions and YJC’s. This system allows police to use their discretion and give young criminals warnings before they are dealt with in the criminal trial system. For one, this system evidences an effective framework for the welfare model of child justice. However, statistics show it is under-utilised, and YJC’s have a high recidivism rate (over 50%). Add some mentions to the Young Offenders Act and a media article or two, and you have a solid, balanced paragraph.

Doli Incapax should be mentioned as well, perhaps in conjunction with above. Do you think children should be criminally liable for their actions? Pick a side which works with your essay and argue it, with some media articles as evidence. Another easy paragraph.

Finally, discussing how children are accommodated in courts is an effective approach. Obviously, any cases you find relevant could be discussed here. Talk about how sentencing effectively takes the age of the offender into account (or doesn’t, depending on your argument). Talk about the effectiveness of specialised courts, or perhaps, the redundancy of such courts if the three-tier system were properly utilised in the first place. Again, lots of room to move with your arguments.

Covering these three points gets you started with a fairly generic young offenders essay structure; come up with a nice argument to thread through and the work is done! Easy peasy. Young offenders is tricky in that you won’t have as much to discuss, but this almost works in your favour too… In that this structure will work for virtually any young offenders question. Intro, Three Tier System, Doli Incapax, Courts, Conclusion. Band 6. Well, that last part might take a bit of work on your part, but if you do some research, remember a few media articles about some interesting cases, you’ll have plenty to mention and talk about. And remember, even if you are a little short, just spend an extra sentence saying why you think a law is good or not:

The Young Offenders Act 1997 (NSW) is a vital piece of legislation, enabling police to use their discretion and effectively achieve justice for young criminals. By allowing warnings and cautions to be issued, rehabilitation is promoted in a manner befitting the welfare model of dealing with young criminals.

All I did was say the law, what it did, and why it is good, linking back to my argument (presumably on the welfare model). Nice and straightforward, with a little practice.

So, that’s it for these guides! You should now have a bunch of stuff to use in your essays. Jump online and supplement it with a current case and article or two, and you are all set. To practice, just keep looking at questions and planning your responses, soon your arguments will flow naturally. And, as always, remember to register for an account and get in touch below! I’m happy to help with any questions. Happy study, and good luck for trials!