Parents Penalised By Losing Right to Jury Trial

Media Release 15 November 2010
Family First NZ says that the Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill announced by Justice Minister Simon Power today is well intentioned, will be beneficial for victims of crime, and will bring about justice in a timely manner. 

However, they are calling for an exemption for s194 which covers potential smacking cases. 

“By removing the right to juries for crimes punishable by less than three years in prison, the Government has not thought carefully about the implications that would have for parents who are prosecuted for minor acts of physical discipline or smacking,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. 

“The anti-smacking debate has led to an ill-conceived and confusing law and if this new regime is implemented, it would further exasperate good parents who find themselves before the courts because it takes away their choice to choose to be tried before their peers.” 

“The new regime also suggests that an assault – including domestic assaults – is a more minor offence, yet a conviction of assault is actually a serious conviction. And it is vital that parents have the right retained to be judged by their peers.” 

“However, we do agree that tying up the justice system and 12 members of the public for lesser cases such as driving while disqualified on their 3rd offence or shoplifting goods to the value of less than $1,000 is not warranted,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

Family First is calling for an exemption to the removal of the choice of trial by jury for assault on a child, or by a male on a female, assault with intent to injure, and aggravated assault.

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