“One punch” reforms now in operation

Elise Archer,Attorney-General

The Tasmanian Government is committed to keeping all Tasmanians safe and protecting victims of crime.

Today, I am pleased to announce that our Government’s reforms around ‘one punch’ (or ‘coward’s punch’) offences has been proclaimed.

While there are a number of existing offences in Tasmanian legislation that can capture ‘one punch’ incidents (such as assault and grievous bodily harm) our reforms now close a loophole in Tasmania for offenders to avoid convictions for manslaughter if they successfully argue the death of the victim was an accident.

The Justice Legislation Amendment (Criminal Responsibility) Act 2020 makes two amendments to s.13 in the Criminal Code Act 1924 and an amendment to the Sentencing Act 1997. These changes make the defence of ‘accident’ much clearer and ensure the excuse of ‘being intoxicated’ (being under the influence of alcohol or drugs) cannot be used for random acts of violence.

Our Government has taken a range of steps to prevent senseless incidents from occurring in the first place, including committing $200,000 towards ‘Stop the Coward’s Punch’ campaign (supported by Danny Green and the THA) to increase awareness and educate people around one punch attacks.

We will always stand up for victims and community safety, and these reforms will send a strong message that senseless and cowardly acts of violence will not be tolerated, and ensure Tasmania’s police and courts have adequate powers to hold these offenders accountable.

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