Non-Fatal Offences against the Person (Amendment) Bill 2014: what it wants to change in terms of assault cases: Anne Ferris T.D

Posted: April 11, 2014 in Uncategorized
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An Bille um Chionta Neamh-Mharfacha in aghaidh and Duine
(Leasú), 2014
Non-Fatal Offences against the Person (Amendment) Bill 2014
————————
EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM
————————

Dear DJ Dave92

Non-Fatal Offences against the Person (Amendment) Bill 2014

Purpose of Bill

The purpose of the Bill is to increase the maximum sentence for
assault causing harm from 5 years to 10 years. The proposal in the
Bill was previously contained in a private members Bill published by
Fine Gael in 2008, the Criminal Justice (Violent Crime Prevention)
Bill 2008, section 4. The explanatory memorandum to that Bill stated
that the current penalty ‘‘is disproportionally low for the scale of the
harm that can be encompassed in this category of assault and the
violence required to cause it. It is felt that such an increase is an
important deterrent element of a comprehensive approach to
preventing violent crime.‘‘
The objective of the bill is to provide equivalent protection for the
person as is provided for property. Under the Criminal Damage Act
1991, section 2, any damage to property however minor renders the
offender liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years. Thus, if a person
assaults another by, for example, breaking a glass in a pub on the
head of the injured party, the offender would be liable to up to 10
years imprisonment for criminal damage to the glass, but only 5 years
for injuring the victim. This anomaly should not be permitted to
continue and the Bill is designed to remove that anomaly.
The Bill needs to be seen in the context of the Government’s
measures to provide alternatives to imprisonment for minor
offenders such as a much more flexible regime in relation to
enforcement of fines. However imprisonment is an appropriate and
necessary response to violent crime and particularly to offences
against the person, whether the assaults in question are against
children, women, or men, some of which may have long-term
physical or psychological effects. These are nonetheless offences that
come within the category of assault causing harm (for which the
sentence is currently 5 years). The higher category of assault causing
serious harm currently attracts a maximum sentence of life
imprisonment, but this category is reserved only for the most serious
assaults. On that basis the rebalancing achieved by the Bill is
necessary and appropriate.
Provisions of Bill
Section 1 amends the maximum sentence for assault causing harm
from 5 years to 10 years.
Section 2 is a standard provision.
12
Financial and regulatory implications.
There are no direct financial implications. There would be
incidental additional costs of longer sentences for some violent
offenders. These would be significantly outweighed by the saving of
costs to the community and Exchequer achieved by a reduction in
violent crime.
Anne Ferris T.D.,
Márta, 2014.

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