Crimes Act 1961

The Crimes Act 1961 is an Act of the Parliament of New Zealand that forms a leading part of the criminal law in New Zealand. It repeals the Crimes Act 1908,[1] itself a successor of the Criminal Code Act 1893.[2] Most crimes in New Zealand are created by the Crimes Act, but some are created elsewhere. All common law offences are abolished by section 9, as are all offences against Acts of the British Parliaments,[1] but section 20 saves the old common law defences where they are not specifically altered.[1]

Crimes Act
Coat of arms of New Zealand.svg
New Zealand Parliament
  • An Act to consolidate and amend the Crimes Act 1908 and certain other enactments of the Parliament of New Zealand relating to crimes and other offences
Royal assent1 November 1961
Commenced1 January 1962
Amended by
Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986
Prostitution Reform Act 2003
Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007
Crimes Amendment Act (No 2) 2008
Abortion Legislation Act 2020
Related legislation
Status: Amended

The Crimes Act is administered by the Ministry of Justice. The Act has 14 parts dealing with various issues including jurisdiction, punishments, "matters of justification and excuse", crimes against the public order, crimes affecting the administration of law and justice, "crimes against morality and decency, sexual crimes, and crimes against public welfare", "crimes against the person", property crimes, and "threatening, conspiring and attempting to commit and offense."[3] Over the years, the legislation has been amended by several new Acts, including the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986, the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007 ("anti-smacking law"), the Crimes Amendment Act (No 2) 2008, and the Abortion Legislation Act 2020.

Key provisionsEdit

Punishments (Part 2)Edit

Section 13 of the Crimes Act states that the powers of the courts under other acts will not be affected by the Crimes Act.[4] The sections relating to the death penalty and putting under bond have been repealed.[3]

Section 17 bans solitary confinement as a form of punishment.[5] Section 19 empowers the High Courts to impose fines.[6]

Matters of justification or excuse (Part 3)Edit

Includes infancy, insanity, compulsion, ignorance of law, sentence or process, arrest, use of force, breach of the peace, defence against assault, defence of property, peaceable entry, powers of discipline, surgical procedures, and other general provisions.[3]

Sections 21 and 22 establish the defence of infancy. Children aged under 10 years old are assumed incapable of committing a crime and cannot be charged with any crime.[7] Children aged between 10 and 14 years inclusive have the rebuttable presumption of incapacity to commit a crime; they cannot be charged unless the prosecution can prove the child knew what they were doing was a criminal offence.[8]

Sections 50, 169 and 170 dealt with the provocation defence which mitigated fatal assaults to the lesser charge and penalty due to manslaughter, rather than murder. Section 50, which define provocation, was repealed by section 2(1) of the Crimes Amendment Act 1980.[9] Sections 169 and 170 was repealed in December 2009 through bipartisan consent with the exception of the ACT New Zealand party.[10][11]

Crimes against public order (Part 5)Edit

Includes treason and other crimes against the Queen and the State; offence of oath to commit offence; unlawful assemblies, riots, and breaches of the peace; piracy; slave dealing; participation in criminal gang; and smuggling and trafficking in people.[3]

Section(s) of Act ANZSOC code Offence Maximum penalty (imprisonment)
73–75 Treason
– conspiracy or attempt
Life imprisonment (mandatory)
14 years
77 Mutiny 10 years
78 Espionage 14 years
79 1559 Sabotage 10 years
87 1313 Riot 2 years
92–94 1559 Piracy 14 years
98 0521 Dealing in slaves 14 years
98A Participation in organised criminal group[definition needed][further explanation needed] 10 years
98C Smuggling migrants 20 years

Crimes affecting the administration of law and justice (Part 6)Edit

Includes bribery and corruption; contravention of statute; misleading justice; and escapes and rescues.[3]

Section(s) of Act ANZSOC code Offence Maximum penalty (imprisonment)
101 Bribery of judicial officer 7 years
102 Corruption and bribery of Minister of the Crown
– Ministers receiving bribes
– people giving bribes

14 years
7 years
103 Corruption and bribery of Member of Parliament 7 years
104 1542 Corruption and bribery of law enforcement officer 7 years
109 1561 Perjury 7 to 14 years
110 1561 False oaths 5 years
111 1561 False statements and declarations 3 years
119 1511 Breaking prison 7 years

Crimes against morality and decency, sexual crimes, and public welfare (Part 7)Edit

Includes crimes against religion; crimes against morality and decency; sexual crimes; sexual offences outside New Zealand; and crimes against public welfare.[3]

Section(s) of Act ANZSOC code Offence Maximum penalty (imprisonment)
128–128B 0311 Sexual violation[definition needed] (incl. rape) 20 years
129 0311 Attempted[definition needed] sexual violation, assault with intent to commit sexual violation 10 years
130 0311 Incest 10 years
131 0311 Sexual conduct[definition needed] with dependent family member[definition needed]
– sexual connection
– attempted sexual connection
– indecent act

7 years
7 years
3 years
131B 0321 Meeting young person[definition needed] following sexual grooming[definition needed], etc. 7 years
132 0311 Sexual conduct with a child under 12
– sexual connection
– attempted sexual connection
– indecent act

14 years
10 years
10 years
134 0311 Sexual conduct with a young person under 16
– sexual connection
– attempted sexual connection
– indecent act

10 years
10 years
7 years
135 0312 Indecent assault[definition needed] 7 years
143 1325 Bestiality 7 years
144A Sexual conduct with children and young people outside New Zealand as per sections 132 and 134
144C 0321 Organising or promoting child sex tours[definition needed] 7 years
150 Misconduct in respect to human remains (illegal exhumation, necrophilia) 2 years

Crimes against the person (Part 8)Edit

Includes duties tending to the preservation of life; homicide; murder and manslaughter; abortion; assaults and injuries to the person; female genital mutilation; bigamy and feigned marriage; and abduction and kidnapping.[3]

Section(s) of Act ANZSOC Code[12] Offence Maximum penalty (imprisonment)
172 0111 Murder Life imprisonment
173 0121 Attempt to murder 14 years
175 0100 Conspiracy to murder 10 years
177 0131 Manslaughter Life imprisonment
178 0131 Infanticide 3 years
179 0131 Aiding and abetting suicide 14 years
182 0131 Killing unborn child 14 years
183 1695 Procuring abortion 14 years
188 0211, 0212 Wounding with intent 7 to 14 years
189 0211, 0212 Injuring with intent 5 to 10 years
189A 0211, 0212 Strangulation or suffocation 7 years
192 0211, 0212 Aggravated assault 3 years
193 0211, 0212 Assault with intent to injure 2 years
194 0211, 0212 Assault on a child, or by a male on a female 2 years
194A 0211, 0212 Assault on person in family relationship 2 years
195 0491 Ill-treatment or neglect of child or vulnerable adult 10 years
195A 0491 Failure to protect child or vulnerable adult 10 years
196 0213 Common assault 1 year
198 0299 Discharging firearm or doing dangerous act with intent 7 to 14 years
198A 0211, 0212 Using any firearm against law enforcement officer, etc. 10 to 17 years
198B 0211, 0212 Commission of crime with firearm 10 years
204A-204B Female genital mutilation and ancillary offences 7 years
206 1329 Bigamy 2 to 14 years
208 0511 Abduction for purposes of marriage or sexual connection 14 years
209 0511 Kidnapping 14 years


Crimes against rights of property (Part 10)Edit

Section(s) of Act ANZSOC code Offence Maximum penalty (imprisonment)
220–223 0811, 0813, 0821, 0823, 0829, 0991 Theft or stealing
– by persons in special relationship
– of livestock and other animals
– value $1001 or more
– value $501 to $1000
– value up to $500

7 years
7 years
7 years
1 year
3 months
226 0812 Conversion of vehicle or other conveyance 7 years
231 0711 Burglary 10 years
231A 0711 Entry onto agricultural land with intent to commit imprisonable offence 10 years
234 0612 Robbery 10 years
243 0831 Money laundering 5 to 7 years
250 0499 Damaging or interfering with computer system 7 to 10 years
256 0921, 0922 Forgery 3 to 10 years
266 0921 Counterfeiting 7 years
267 1211 Arson 7 to 14 years

Threatening, conspiring, and attempting to commit offences (Part 11)Edit

Section(s) of Act ANZSOC code Offence Maximum penalty (imprisonment)
306 0532 Threatening to kill or do grievous bodily harm 7 years
310 Conspiring to commit offence (where not explicitly stated elsewhere) 7 years or the maximum imprisonment for the crime, whichever is less
312 Accessory after the fact to crime (where not explicitly stated elsewhere)
– to crimes punishable by life imprisonment
– to all other crimes

7 years
5 years or half the maximum imprisonment for the crime, whichever is less

HistoryEdit

Prior to the 1880s, the New Zealand made few changes to the criminal law it had inherited from England in 1840, aside from adopting the 1861 English reforms in 1867. One recommendation from the commissioners that consolidated the New Zealand statutes, prior to enactment of the Statutes Revision Act 1879 that allowed for their reprinting, was that the criminal law should be codified in a way that suited New Zealand conditions, rather than merely adopting similar legislative changes being debated in 1880 by the English Parliament. A Criminal Code bill was first drafted in 1883 and introduced into the House of Representatives in June that year.[13] However, over the next 10 years the bill's passage through the Parliament failed to achieve majority support at various stages, despite repeated introductions and initial support. The bill was finally passed at the end of September 1893 and the Criminal Code Act 1893 received royal assent on 6 October 1893.[2]

Enactment of the Consolidated Statutes Enactment Act 1908 on 4 August 1908 resulted in the Criminal Code Act 1893 being consolidated into the Crimes Act 1908. The 1908 Act was further consolidated and amended with the passage of the Crimes Act 1961 on 1 November 1961.[1]

AmendmentsEdit

The Crimes Act has been substantially amended since 1961:

Punishment (Part 2)Edit

Section 14 of the Crimes Act 1961 allowed death sentences. However, due to growing general public opposition to the death penalty, reformist New Zealand National Party Minister of Justice Ralph Hanan and other National MPs exercised a conscience vote and voted with the abolitionist New Zealand Labour Party to forbid judges passing sentence of death other than in cases of treason.[14] That was the functional abolition in New Zealand, with no one executed after this date. In 1989, the death penalty was formally abolished by the Fourth Labour Government.[15]

Matters of justification or excuse (Part 3)Edit

The Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007 abolished Section 59 of the Crimes Act, which had previously allowed parental corporal punishment of children, despite opposition from religious social conservatives and others.[16]

Crimes against morality and decency, sexual crimes, and public welfare (Part 7)Edit

Amendments in 1985 resulted in crime of rape being replaced with one of sexual violation, a similar offence but without gender specificity. Further changes in 2005 resulted in gender specificity being removed from all criminal sexual offences.[17]

The Crimes Amendment Act (No 3) 1985 (commenced 1 February 1986) criminalised marital rape and added the offence of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, criminalising female-on-male sexual violation and expanding sexual violation to include anal and oral intercourse.[18]

The Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 amended the Crimes Act, allowing for consensual homosexual relationships between men.[19][20]

In 1995, the Crimes Amendment Act 1995 (No 49) inserted Sections 144A, 144B, and 144C which deal with sexual offenses outside of New Zealand. Section 144A of the Crimes Act deals with New Zealand citizens and ordinary residents that commit acts of child sexual abuse in overseas jurisdictions through child sex tourism. It applies existing prohibitions against sexual connection and indecent acts with children under twelve and young people to children within overseas jurisdictions. Under Section 144C, it is also illegal to promote child sex tourism overseas from New Zealand.[21]

In 2003, the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 decriminalised sex work, removing sections 147-149A of the Crimes Act, which had formerly prohibited most forms of prostitution in New Zealand through maintaining criminal penalties against soliciting, living off the proceeds of sex work, brothel-keeping and managing sex workers.[22][23]

In 2005, the Crimes Amendment Act 2005 (commenced 20 July 2005) amended the Crimes Act 1961 to make most sexual offences gender-neutral. This closed a legal loophole which prevented adult females from being convicted of sexual offending against boys under 16.[24]

In March 2019, Parliament unanimously passed the Crimes Amendment Bill abolishing Section 123, which dealt with the offense of blasphemy, in accordance with modern religious pluralism and free speech sensibilities.[25][26]

Crimes against the person (Part 8)Edit

In 1987, Section 187A of the Crimes Act was inserted, permitting abortion on the grounds of saving the mother's life, mental health, and physical health; foetal abnormality within the 20 weeks gestation period; and incest or sexual intercourse with guardians and family members.[27]

In January 1996, the Crimes Amendment Act 1995 inserted Section 20A, which outlaws female genital mutilation within New Zealand, and Section 204B, which deals with ancillary and related offences.[28][29]

In 2002, the Sentencing Act 2002 changed the penalty for murder from mandatory life imprisonment to presumptive life imprisonment; sentencing judges now may waive the mandatory life imprisonment requirement and give a lesser sentence in exceptional ("manifestly unjust") circumstances.[30]

In 2018, the Family Violence (Amendments) Act 2018 inserted new offenses relating to strangulation or suffocation (Section 189A), assault on person in a family relationship (Section 194A), coerced marriages or civil unions (Section 207A), and abductions for the purposes of marriage or civil union or sexual connection (Section 208).[31]

In March 2020, the Abortion Legislation Act 2020 replaced Sections 182A to 187A with Section 183, which states that abortion is only an offense if a person who is not a health practitioner procures or performs an abortion on a woman. The woman is not guilty of the offense.[32]

Euthanasia in New Zealand was formerly illegal under Sections 160 (culpable homicide), 173 (attempting to murder) and 179 (aiding and abetting suicide). Four attempts have been made to decriminalise assisted suicide through parliamentary bills in 1995, 2003, 2012, and 2019.[33] In November 2019, David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill passed its third reading.[34] A binding referendum was held during the 2020 general election in September 2020 to pass the End of Life Choice Bill into law. Three quarters of voters supported reform, which will now take effect in early November 2021 [35]

Crimes against property (Part 10)Edit

Part 10 of the act, Crimes against the right of property, was totally rewritten in 2003. In doing so, the definition of Burglary was revised and simplified to only require entry to be unauthorised rather than also requiring an act of breaking.[36]

In 2019, the Crimes Amendment Act 2019 (No 4) introduced the concept of Burglary of agricultural land along with increasing penalties for Theft of animals, in response to increasing reports of stock rustling as well as nighttime hunting, slaughtering and butchering of farm animals in roadside fields.[37]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "Schedule 5: New Zealand enactments repealed". Legislation New Zealand. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b Finn, Jeremy (2003). "Codification of the Criminal Law: the Australasian parliamentary experience". ir.canterbury.ac.nz. University of Canterbury. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Crime Act 1961". Act of Parliament of 1 November 1961. New Zealand Parliament.
  4. ^ "Section 13: Powers of courts under other Acts not affected". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Archived from the original on 3 September 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  5. ^ "Section 17: No sentence of solitary confinement to be passed". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Archived from the original on 26 January 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  6. ^ "Section 19: Enforcement of fines by High Court". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Archived from the original on 18 July 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Section 21: Children under 10". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  8. ^ "Section 22: Children between 10 and 14". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Section 50: Provocation defined". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  10. ^ "Crimes (Provocation Repeal) Amendment Act 2009". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  11. ^ "ACT Opposes Provocation Repeal Bill". Act New Zealand. Scoop. 26 November 2009. Archived from the original on 18 May 2017. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  12. ^ ABS. "1234.0 - Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC), 2011". abs.govt.au. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  13. ^ Joint Statutes Revision Committee (7 August 1883). "Statutes Revision Commission: Report on the Criminal Code" (PDF). nzlii.org. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  14. ^ "Capital punishment in New Zealand". NZHistory.govt.nz. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 5 August 2014. Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Abolition of the Death Penalty Act 1989". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  16. ^ "Anti-smacking bill becomes law". New Zealand Herald. 16 May 2007. Archived from the original on 3 November 2017. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  17. ^ "Section 128: Sexual violation defined". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  18. ^ "Crimes Amendment Act (No 3) 1985". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Homosexual law reform in New Zealand". NZHistory.govt.nz. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 14 June 2016. Archived from the original on 22 January 2020. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  20. ^ "30th anniversary of Homosexual Law Reform Act". New Zealand Parliament. 7 July 2016. Archived from the original on 8 July 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  21. ^ "Crimes Amendment Act 1995 (1995 No 49)". New Zealand Legal Information Institute. Archived from the original on 11 May 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  22. ^ "Prostitution Reform Act 2003". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  23. ^ Jordan, Jan (31 May 2018). "Sex work - Legislation and decriminalisation". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Archived from the original on 15 February 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  24. ^ "Crimes Amendment Act 2005". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  25. ^ "Crimes Amendment Bill — Third Reading". Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  26. ^ Ensor, Jamie (6 March 2019). "'Archaic' blasphemous libel law repealed in Parliament". Newshub. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  27. ^ "Section 187 of Crimes Act 1961". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Archived from the original on 21 January 2020. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  28. ^ "Section 204A: Female genital mutilation". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  29. ^ "Section 204B: Further offences relating to female genital mutilation". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  30. ^ "Section 102: Presumption in favour of life imprisonment for murder". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  31. ^ "Family Violence (Amendments) Act 2018". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  32. ^ "Sections 182A to 187A replaced". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  33. ^ "Assisted dying: New Zealand". New Zealand Parliament. 20 December 2018. Archived from the original on 7 April 2020. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  34. ^ Cooke, Henry (13 November 2019). "MPs vote in favour of End of Life Choice Bill at final reading". Stuff. Archived from the original on 13 November 2019. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  35. ^ Graham-McLay, Charlotte (13 November 2019). "New Zealand to vote in referendum on euthanasia". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 23 December 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  36. ^ "Section 231: Burglary". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  37. ^ "Section 231A: Entry onto agricultural land with intent to commit imprisonable offence". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 9 April 2020.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit