NSW How Many Years Is Life Imprisonment?

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Toqual

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10 July 2014
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Some say it is 25 years in jail, some say 20. How long is it in criminal law?
 

Sarah J

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16 July 2014
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Life imprisonment sentences are for an indeterminate period as long as the natural life of the prisoner. In NSW, there does not appear to be a maximum limit and a non-parole period cannot be imposed: Judicial Commission of NSW on Murder. In fact, five people in NSW have received natural life sentences. Further, under common law, a life sentence means a natural life sentence.

In other States or Territories in Australia, a minimum non-parole period may be imposed. However, there is no definite period of incarceration (NT for example has a standard non-parole period of 20 years but the judge can impose a non-parole period between 10-25).
 

Toqual

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10 July 2014
130
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Why would a judge then claim a sentence of 25 years as 'life' if the perpetrator would be released at 50 years of age?
 

Sarah J

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16 July 2014
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It is a "life sentence" because there is no maximum imprisonment period. There is also no maximum non-parole period. In some jurisdictions, legislation allows a person initially sentenced to life imprisonment to be considered for parole after a certain period (i.e. there is a minimum non-parole period). This is solely at the discretion of the courts. The prisoner does not have a right to be considered for parole. There may not also be a parole period, meaning that the accused may be "on parole" for a rest of their natural life.

In other states such as in NSW, a life imprisonment means for the natural life of the prisoner and they will not be considered for parole. In other words, there is no minimum non-parole period.

At common law, the NSW approach is adopted.
 

Toqual

Well-Known Member
10 July 2014
130
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I am having difficulty comprehending this. In order to simplify, could you explain what would occur when an individual was sentenced to life imprisonment?
 

Sarah J

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16 July 2014
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In NSW, they are in prison for the rest of their life.
 

Toqual

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10 July 2014
130
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Okay. One last question, why is 'life imprisonment' commonly associated with twenty five years.
 

Sarah J

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16 July 2014
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Melbourne, Victoria
In NT, for instance, a prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment can apply for parole after 20 years. In other States or Territories, the average minimum non-parole period is 10-25 years. This means, a prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment cannot apply for parole until that statutory period is up. However, even if the statutory period is up, there is no guarantee parole will be considered and/or granted.

In NSW, there is no parole period and so prisoners stay in prison for the rest of their natural life. This is also the case at common law.