Subject: Legal Studies

Technique: Investigation – Inquiry Report

Unit : Unit 1 Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Topic: Topic 3- Criminal Trial Process & Topic 4- Punishment and Sentencing

Resources available:

A variety of extracts from case law, legal databases, legislation, government and other institutional websites, published reports, media and expert commentaries, and lobbyist statements.


The media often question the adequacy of the criminal justice system, particularly in relation to the criminal trial process and punishment and sentencing. Investigate one topic (from the choices below) and submit a written inquiry report.


Using your research and understanding of the criminal trial and/or punishment principles and processes, create an inquiry report analysing the nature and scope of one of the legal issues listed below:

  • Judge-only trials should replace juries: ‘The jury system lacks transparency, is irrational and should be abolished and replaced by judge-alone trials… [As] juries do not give reasons for their verdict, it is extremely difficult to appeal against a jury’s decision.’
  • Defences and excuses are too readily available for the accused and make a mockery of the Queensland Legal System: ‘The partial defence of provocation is both open-ended as to the emotions allegedly driving the defendant, biased in favour of heterosexual men who are the main beneficiaries of the defence, and promotes a culture of blaming the victim who is not present in court to give their version of events.’
  • Rehabilitation should become a greater focus of our criminal justice system: ‘Many of the conditions required for punishment to be effective will not exist in any justice system. It follows that policies and programmes that focus on rehabilitating offenders will have a greater chance of success in preventing crime and improving community safety.’
  • Minority groups face unfair barriers when accessing justice: ‘Achieving access to justice, which includes due process and equality before the law, is a complex challenge. It demands not only examining the letter of the laws that are in force, but also identifying and overcoming systemic and practical barriers that preclude equal access to justice.’

To complete this task, you must:

  • Select and use legal information including legislation, 1-2 relevant cases, and trends or patterns in offending and/or sentencing and/or trial processes
  • Demonstrate comprehension of relevant legal concepts, principles and processes within the report
  • Analyse the nature and scope of the issue
  • Examine viewpoints and their consequences relating to the area of law chosen
  • Present relevant legal alternatives
  • Evaluate using legal criteria and make at least one recommendation
  • Discuss the implications of your recommendation/s
  • Format the report using a contents page, headings and subheadings
  • Provide a reference list and citations



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