Law Reform Commission of Western Australia
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Project 60 - Alternatives to cautions

Project No. 60

Commenced: 1975
Completed: 1975

It had long been the practice of magistrates and judges, if they found a charge proved but considered that there were extenuating circumstances, to convict an offender and merely 'caution' him. The purported legal effect of a caution was that, whether or not the offender was ordered to pay the complainant’s costs or some other order was made against him, he was unconditionally discharged.

As a result of the 1975 Supreme Court decision Walsh v Giumelli; White v Gifford ([1975] WAR 114), which held that a Court of Petty Sessions had no power to impose a caution on a convicted offender, the Attorney General referred the matter to the Commission for consideration of possible alternatives to the use of cautions.

Terms of Reference

In 1975 the Commission was asked to consider alternative ways of dealing with offenders charged with offences which, in the past, may have been dealt with by way of a caution.


In 1979 Parliament enacted the Criminal Code Amendment Act 1979 (WA) to implement the Commission’s recommendations.

Last updated: 31-Jan-2017

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