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Book Index - ‘Young persons’ may not be sentenced to indefinite sentences

The Sentencing (Amendment) Act 1991 inserted into the principal Act s18A to s18Q and certain definitions in s3, which together created a scheme permitting and regulating the imposition of indefinite sentences. For general information on that scheme see 12.9 - Indefinite sentences. By s18A that sanction may be imposed on a defined class of offenders, which excludes ‘young persons’. Under the Act as originally amended, ‘young person’ was defined to mean ‘a person who at the time of being sentenced is under the age of 21 years’. However this definition was repealed by the Sentencing and Other Acts (Amendment) Act 1997, and the term is now undefined. The repeal does not appear to be the subject on any discussion in Hansard. In the absence of any explanation for this repeal, it would appear to be acceptable to take guidance from the former definition of ‘young person’ and the current definition of ‘young offender’. However, the nature of the discretion to impose an indefinite sentence is such that it is will be most exceptional that the disposition is considered for any young person, however the term is defined.

Last updated: 19 April 2011

See Also

10.7.4 - Age and life without parole