Draft of a Code of Criminal Law - Front page

Shortly after being appointed Chief Justice of Queensland in 1893, Sir Samuel Walker Griffith began the mammoth task of codifying the colony’s criminal law. After examining more than 250 Acts of Parliament and laws relating to more than 1000 offences over 5 years, Griffith produced a draft in 1897 containing 733 sections. Moreover, as English criminal law had not been codified, Griffith was also forced to draw on wide-ranging precedents, one of which was the 1888 Italian Penal Code, a language in which he had been fluent since his adolescent days.  Another nine sections of Griffith’s code were drawn from the New York Penal Code, but he also included a number of important reforms.  Griffith’s Criminal Code was passed by parliament in 1899 and came into effect on 1 January 1901. While it remains the basis of Queensland’s criminal law, Griffith’s work also influenced criminal codes in Western Australia, Tasmania and, in 1983, the Northern Territory.  Outside Australia, the Queensland Criminal Code had a direct bearing on criminal law in a number of African and Pacific nations as well as Israel and the Seychelles.


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