Clarity Law

Specialist Criminal Law Firm Queensland
Monday, 18 December 2023 12:55

Can I ask the Court to close for my sentence?

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A person coming before the court for the first time is rightfully nervous, they are thinking about what the penalty will be, if there is any disqualification, is a conviction going to be recorded! There is no shortage of things to consider. People incidentally will turn their mind to, what is going to happen to my reputation, will my matter be reported on. Queensland courts, with few exceptions, operate under the principle of the General Rule of Openness. I have written a companion article for this one about whether or not a case can be published in the media, here

Many clients ask whether they can request that the court be closed during their sentence?

 

Why are courts “Open”?

In Queensland there is a principle called the General Rule of Openness, which has been described as being a fundamental principle of our judicial system. The general rule is that all criminal court proceedings are open to the public and can be freely reported on. There are some exceptions to this rule, mainly surrounding Domestic Violence matters and matters relating to Children, such as Childrens Courts or where Children or victims of sexual assault are giving evidence.

In addition an offender who has cooperated with authorities (ie an informer) might have some evidence or part of the sentence closed.

 

Can I ask the Court to close for my sentence?

No.

Once an adult matter is proceeding to sentence, that meaning any special witnesses have given their evidence, the sentence will occur in open court, to allow for the principles of open and transparent justice to prevail.

As we have previously written, the likelihood of a matter being reported on by the media will depend on the seriousness of the offence, the location of the court and whether there are any special features of the case (including but not limited to a celebrity or matter of public interest).

You cannot simply ask that the court be closed as the sentence taking place in an open court will cause embarrassment, affect your employment or social wellbeing.

 

What can I do?

There is, in essence not a lot that can be done to close the court.

 

Conclusion

While it is a naturally distressing time in your life, the thought of an additional punishment in the court of public opinion can add unneeded stress. It is for better or worse an underpinning principle that the administration of justice occurs openly and publicly. The only thing that a defendant can do, is focus on the conduct of their case.

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Jack Marshall

Jack is a former soldier and now a criminal defence lawyer with Clarity Law. He helps clients navigate the court process and get the best results.