Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: A Consideration of Sentencing and Unreliable Confessions
H Douglas, 'Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: A Consideration of Sentencing and Unreliable Confessions' (2015) 23 Journal of Law and Medicine 427-442
Posted: 13 Apr 2016
Date Written: April 12, 2015
While Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) are now a strong focus of policy-makers throughout Australia, they have received strikingly little consideration in Australian criminal courts. Many people who have an FASD are highly suggestible, have difficulty linking their actions to consequences, controlling impulses and remembering things, and thus FASD raises particular issues for appropriate sentencing and the admissibility of evidence. This article considers the approach of Australian criminal courts to FASD. It reviews the recent case of AH v. Western Australia which exemplifies the difficulties associated with appropriate sentencing in cases where the accused is likely to have an FASD. The article also considers the implications for Australian courts of the New Zealand case of Pora v. The Queen, recently heard by the Privy Council. In this case, the Privy Council accepted expert evidence that people with FASD may confabulate evidence, potentially making their testimony unreliable. The article concludes with an overview of developments in criminal policy and legal response in relation to FASD in the United States, Canada and Australia.
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation