Currently, in Queensland any offender accused of a “prescribed sexual offence” such as rape or sexual assault has their identity protected until their matters are committed to stand trial under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1978 (‘the Act’). This essentially means that from the date of being charged to the date the matter is committed from the Magistrates Court to a higher court, or a matter proceeds to a summary trial, the defendant’s identity is not revealed.
The relevant section of the Act is Section 7, which states:
“Any report made or published concerning an examination of witnesses in relation to a prescribed sexual offence, shall not reveal the name, address, school or place of employment of a defendant therein or any other particular likely to lead to the identification of a defendant therein unless the justices taking the examination, for good and sufficient reasons shown, order to the contrary.”
Queensland and the Northern Territory are the only two remaining State/Territory that still has this protection in place.
However, on Wednesday, 25 May 2023, the Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 was presented to Parliament. Amongst 29 other suggested amendments to legislation include the proposed amendments to section 7 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1978. The amendment seeks to omit the current section completely, replacing it with a section relating to applying for a non-publication order. This means that the identity of the defendant will be revealed as a matter of standard practice from the date of charge and shifts the onus on the defendant or any other relevant party to the proceeding to apply for a non-publication order.
While this amendment still provides the opportunity for a relevant party to obtain a non-publication order by the Courts, it is proposed that the applicant must give 3 business days’ notice of their intention to make the application to the court and to each relevant party to the proceeding, which may be too late to prevent the offence being publicised. Additionally, the applicant must also satisfy the Court that.
- The order is necessary to prevent prejudice to the proper administration of justice;
- The order is necessary to prevent undue hardship or distress to a complainant or witness in relation to the charge;
- The order is necessary to protect the safety of any person.
On the face of it, this creates a number of hurdles for not only the defendant but also complainants who may be affected by the publication of such information, particularly self-represented defendants and complainants who are not aware of their rights.
If you are charged with a prescribed sexual offence, it is important that you seek legal advice immediately from our team of criminal lawyers to ensure you are aware of the publication ramifications.
The blog published by Rostron Carlyle Rojas is intended as general information only and is not legal advice on any subject matter. By viewing the blog posts, the reader understands there is no solicitor-client relationship between the reader and the blog published. The blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a legal practitioner, and readers are urged to consult RCR on any legal queries concerning a specific situation.