Recent Cases

Stephens v The Queen [2022] HCA 31 (07 September 2022) (Keane, Gordon, Edelman, Steward and Gleeson JJ)


Criminal law – Sexual offences against child – Presumption against retrospective operation – Where appellant pleaded not guilty on 29 November 2018 to sexual offences against complainant – Where Crown was uncertain whether alleged conduct occurred when s 81 of Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) in force, or when s 81 repealed but s 78K in force – Where s 80AF of Crimes Act came into force on 1 December 2018, allowing prosecution to rely, in relation to entirety of period, on whichever offence carried lesser maximum penalty – Where Crown was granted leave after appellant’s trial had commenced to amend indictment to take benefit of s 80AF – Whether s 80AF could apply after an accused’s trial had commenced.

Words and phrases – “arraignment”, “change in the law”, “commencement of a trial”, “historic sexual offences”, “indictment”, “presumption against retrospective operation”, “reasonable expectations”, “retroactive”, “retrospective”, “sexual offence”, “textual indications”.