Conclusion: anomalies in the maximum penalty structure
Maxima that are based on social conditions and mores of another era
6.37The maximum penalties for several offences are arguably based on the social conditions and mores of another era. While the offences can still be justified by the actual or potential harm they pose, their maximum penalties exaggerate the importance of the interests being protected in modern society. In our view, two offences clearly fall into this category:
- The offence of bigamy in s 206 of the Crimes Act normally carries a maximum penalty of seven years. We ranked the offence in the second to lowest penalty category on our methodology, alongside offences in the three month to two year range.
- If the person with whom the offender went through the form of marriage, or with whom the offender entered into the civil union, knew at the time of the commission of the bigamy that the marriage or civil union would be void, the maximum penalty is two years. We ranked the offence in this case in the lowest penalty category, alongside penalties that are generally in the three to six month range (although we doubt that it should be imprisonable at all).
6.38The maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment for the offence of concealing the dead body of a child in s 181 of the Crimes Act, with intent to conceal the fact of its birth, is arguably also outdated, particularly given that the offence almost always involves either significant mental impairment at the time of its commission or other substantial mitigation. Our ranking placed it in Category O, the lowest penalty category.