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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77576 Find in a Library
Title: Drug Offence Law in Australia - If It Looks Silly and Vicious, if It Sounds Silly and Vicious and if It Has Silly and Vicious Results Then
Journal: Australian Crime Prevention Council Forum  Volume:4  Issue:1  Dated:(1981)  Pages:35,37-39,41-46
Author(s): M R Goode
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 10
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: This critique of Australian drug laws and policies contends that they seriously contravene almost every basic assumption, principle, and rule underlying the general criminal process for the protection of citizens' liberty from arbitrary State interference and of the innocent from unjust prosecution and conviction.
Abstract: The paper further contends that these contraventions are indefensible and that Australian legislators, judges, and the public have little or no idea of the nature of the true situation. Arguments are presented citing specific basic principles, followed by an analysis of how these are breached by drug legislation and criminal justice practices. For example, the principle that 'the law shall be certain, so that every citizen shall know in advance the legality of intended behavior' is deemed to be negated by the vagueness of the drug laws, the addition of amendments without reprinting, and the uncertainty of definitions for such offenses as 'supply' and 'possession.' Similarly, the treatment of the offense of possession breaches principles that prevent guilt by association, require criminal intent, and presume innocence until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. A general tendency of judges is noted that betrays a willingness to suspend basic principles of freedom in the name of suppressing a supposed epidemic of drug use. Another erroneous assumption allegedly evidenced by Australian drug legislation is that all drugs used recreationally (except alcohol and tobacco) are of equal harm and danger at the level of heroin abuse. Additional rights breached by drug legislation and its enforcement are privacy, freedom of expression, remaining silent, and trial by jury. Finally, reforms are urged that would restore and preserve the integrity of the criminal process, strike a balance between appropriate social policy and the need for justice, and meet the general need for criminal law reform.
Index Term(s): Australia; Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Drug abuse; Drug law enforcement; Drug law offenses; Drug regulation; Federal drug laws; Law Enforcement Teleprinter System
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