‘I'm Sorry But You're Just Not that Special' - Reflecting on the ‘Special Circumstances’ Provisions of the Infringements Act 2006 (Vic)

Current Issues in Criminal Law 2013 24(3) 375-393

Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper, 2013/09

Posted: 17 Apr 2013 Last revised: 24 Feb 2014

See all articles by Meredith Brown

Meredith Brown

Monash University

Gaye Lansdell

Monash University - Faculty of Law

Bernadette J. Saunders

Monash University

Anna Eriksson

Monash University

Date Written: April 17, 2013

Abstract

Infringement notices are used extensively in all Australian jurisdictions as an expedient way to address many incidences of minor law breaking. Recipients may pay a fixed penalty, rather than proceeding to court, reducing the burden on Magistrates’ Courts and police resources. Fixed penalties are applied to specific offences, irrespective of aggravating or mitigating circumstances (O’Malley 2010), and these are typically considerably less than court-imposed fines. However, the expansion and ubiquity of the infringements system has resulted in an increasing number of marginalised individuals coming into contact with the criminal justice system. Certain groups of people, characterised by their vulnerability and multi-level disadvantage (such as homelessness, mental illness, intellectual disability or substance abuse), are disproportionately and adversely affected by this system. Indeed, it entrenches and compounds existing disadvantage in several ways - a topic this article will discuss. Drawing on interviews with 95 stakeholders involved in the Victorian infringements system, we will outline some of the most problematic aspects of the operation of the Infringements Act 2006 (Vic), critically discuss what has already been undertaken to alleviate the situation for individuals characterised by so-called ‘special circumstances’, and propose amendments to the system which might also serve as a guide for other Australian jurisdictions facing similar challenges.

Suggested Citation

Brown, Meredith and Lansdell, Gaye and Saunders, Bernadette Josephine and Eriksson, Anna, ‘I'm Sorry But You're Just Not that Special' - Reflecting on the ‘Special Circumstances’ Provisions of the Infringements Act 2006 (Vic) (April 17, 2013). Current Issues in Criminal Law 2013 24(3) 375-393 , Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper, 2013/09, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2253000

Meredith Brown

Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

Gaye Lansdell (Contact Author)

Monash University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

Bernadette Josephine Saunders

Monash University ( email )

Victoria 3800
Australia

Anna Eriksson

Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

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