How long is a life sentence? Is asked when a person knows the maximum penalty that can be imposed for a charge is a life sentence. The meaning of a sentence of life imprisonment varies substantially among different jurisdictions in Australia. A life sentence is the heaviest penalty a Court can impose in Australia. In 1990, Life sentences were introduced in NSW. Since then, a number of individuals have received life sentences, and some of them have died in prison.
Heinous and extremely serious cases result in life sentences.
For example, the heinous crime of child murder. The standard non-parole period of murder, for example, is 20 years. However, in the case of more aggravating circumstances such as the murder of a child or police officer, the non-parole period is increased to 25 years.
If you have been charged with a serious criminal offence, you should speak to a top criminal defence lawyer in Sydney.
This section creates mandatory life sentences for certain offences if the prosecution can establish certain requirements. In the case of murder, these requirements are;
The Court has the discretion to impose life sentences. The two-step process applied by the Court is;
However, even if the Court is satisfied with the above requirements, the Court has the discretion not to impose a life sentence. This is seen in R v Merritt (2004) NSWCCA, where it was stated that where the subjective features of an offender justify a lesser sentence, the Court can still choose not to impose a life sentence.