Case note: The automatic review of child offenders’ sentences
This case note considers the automatic review of child offenders’ cases. Adult offenders’ cases go on ‘review in the ordinary course’ in limited circumstances, but section 85 of the Child Justice Act aims to provide automatic review in a wider range of cases. The wording of section 85 and how it should be read with the Criminal Procedure Act has caused interpretational difficulties. Two cases have provided answers to certain questions: Do all cases regarding children under 16 years go on review? Do all cases regarding custodial sentences (that are not suspended) go on review, regardless of the experience of the magistrate, whether it was a regional court that issued the sentence, the length of the sentence and even if the child was legally represented? The courts have answered these in the affirmative. In reaching these conclusions, the courts have interpreted the law within the context of the Child Justice Act as a whole, and within the provisions of section 28 of the Constitution.