Criminal Law Sentencing Factors
When pleading guilty or being found guilty of an offence, the Judge is required to consider a range of factors when imposing a sentence. There are many different categories of sentences, including fines, community-based orders, probation or a term of imprisonment. When considering what sentence should be imposed, the Judge must have regard to several relevant principles including to: –
- Punish the offender;
- Assist the rehabilitation of the offender;
- Protect the community from the offender;
- Deter the offender from commenting further offences; and
- Deter the community from committing similar offences.
In addition to the five main sentencing principles, there is also numerous secondary consideration the Judge may consider. The factors considered will be relevant mitigating circumstances relevant to your personal situation.
Examples of secondary considerations which may apply to reduce your sentence include: –
- An early plea of guilty;
- No or little prior criminal history;
- Your co-operation with the authorities;
- Any demonstration of remorse; and
- Personal Circumstances at the time of the offence (such as illness or mental issues).
During sentencing, your solicitor will inform the Judge of any relevant mitigating factors in your favour. This process will include submitting documents to the court to support these factors (such as psychologist reports, medical records, criminal history and any action of repentance).
Due to the unique nature and circumstances of cases, you should not assume the sentence passed for your offence will be similar to a decision passed on a friend, family member or someone in the media. Although your solicitor will argue and provide advice on an expected penalty range (for instance, a fine between $300 – $2000), the sentence you receive will ultimately lie with the Judge’s discretion.
During sentencing, the Judge must provide the reasons for imposing that particular sentence on you. If you do not agree with the sentence or believe it to be unreasonable in the circumstances, you are able to appeal the sentence. For an appeal to occur, you are required to file an application to the court within one month after the original sentence. If the application is made outside this timeframe, you may lose the right to appeal.
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