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Child Sentencing Bill Defeated

A bill which would have made committing a crime in the presence of a child an aggravating factor in sentencing has been voted down with MPs saying it was redundant.

NZ First MP Pita Parone said the Sentencing (Protection of Children from Criminal Offending) Amendment Bill had originally been sponsored by the late Brian Donnelly it seeks to amend the Sentencing Act 2002, to make the commission of an offence in the presence of a child an aggravating factor when sentencing.

A select committee examination of the bill concluded the application of the bill as introduced would be difficult; and the definition of “in the presence of a minor” is too broad, encompassing many possible situations.

“We are confident that judges already consider the presence of and potential harm to children when sentencing, and requiring them to comply with a rigid framework might hinder the use of judicial discretion,” the committee wrote.

National MP Mike Sabin said since the bill was originally drawn up there had been many changes to the Sentencing Act which addressed many of the concerns of the bill around aggravating factors in sentencing as a result National would not support the bill to progress any further.

The bill was defeated at second reading by 108 to 13 with NZ First and Maori Party in favour. MPs began the second reading of the Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill.
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