Section 19B Crimes Act | Murder of Police Officers


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In recent times, the courts have adopted a hardline approach to the killing of a police officer while they are carrying out their duties.

Accordingly, the murder of a police officer is treated very seriously and carries one of the harshest penalties under our law.

Section 19B of the Crimes Act says that a mandatory life sentence applies for the murder of a police officer if the prosecution can prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That the police officer was murdered whilst carrying out their work duties, or that they were murdered in revenge because of their job as a police officer;
  • That you knew, or should have known that the person was a police officer;
  • That you deliberately intended to kill the police officer, or you were engaged in criminal activity that could cause serious harm to police officers.

A mandatory life sentence means that you will spend the rest of your life in prison.

However, this mandatory life sentence will not apply if you were under 18 at the time of the offence, or if you suffered from a significant cognitive impairment.

Obviously, a mandatory life sentence is an extremely serious penalty that can turn your life upside down.

However, with the assistance of an experienced criminal lawyer, you may be able to fight the charges to be found ‘not guilty.’

The Legislation

Section 19B of the Crimes Act 1900, which deals with the murder of police officers, reads as follows:

19B Mandatory life sentences for murder of police officers

(1) A court is to impose a sentence of imprisonment for life for the murder of a police officer if the murder was committed:

(a) while the police officer was executing his or her duty, or

(b) as a consequence of, or in retaliation for, actions undertaken by that or any other police officer in the execution of his or her duty, and if the person convicted of the murder:

(c) knew or ought reasonably to have known that the person killed was a police officer, and

(d) intended to kill the police officer or was engaged in criminal activity that risked serious harm to police officers.

(2) A person sentenced to imprisonment for life under this section is to serve the sentence for the term of the person’s natural life.

(3) This section does not apply to a person convicted of murder:

(a) if the person was under the age of 18 years at the time the murder was committed, or

(b) if the person had a significant cognitive impairment at that time (not being a temporary self-induced impairment).

(4) If this section requires a person to be sentenced to imprisonment for life, nothing in section 21 (or any other provision) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 or in any other Act or law authorises a court to impose a lesser or alternative sentence.

(5) Nothing in this section affects the obligation of a court to impose a sentence of imprisonment for life on a person convicted of murder in accordance with section 61 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.

(6) Nothing in this section affects the prerogative of mercy.

(7) This section applies to offences committed after the commencement of this section.

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

The expert lawyers at Sydney Criminal Lawyers deal exclusively in criminal law. In particular, we specialise in fighting and winning complex murder cases.

If you have been charged with murdering a police officer, our senior lawyers can give you advice about your options and how to fight the charges in court. For example, we can argue that you were acting in self-defence, or that you were reasonably mistaken as to whether the person was a police officer.

Our outstanding advocates can also represent you in court by preparing a compelling case and effectively cross-examining all witnesses.

So if you want the best possible result in your murder case, contact us today on
(02) 9261 8881
and let us help you get a positive outcome in your case.