Do you need to know more about sentencing? Are you about to be sentenced for a criminal offence in Queensland? This article explains what sentencing is in Queensland for criminal charges, the process and factors considered. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is A Sentence?
A sentence is a penalty a court imposes on a person once they plead, or are found guilty of a criminal offence. It is the final part of court proceedings.
Sentencing usually takes place in the same court as which a person has pleaded, or been found guilty.
What Is The Purpose Of Sentencing?
There are 5 purposes under Queensland law for why a sentence can be imposed.
These purposes set out under Section 9 (1) of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (“the Act”) are;
- punishment of the offender,
- rehabilitation of the offender,
- deterrence to civilians to commit crimes,
- denunciation of the offender or offence, and
- protection of the community.
What Is A Sentencing Hearing?
A sentencing hearing takes place in much the same way a trial does. Submissions are made by both the prosecution and defence counsel to the sentencing Judge/Magistrate listing the factors that each party asks the Judge or Magistrate to consider when deciding the penalty to be applied.
The prosecution usually submits an agreed summary of facts to the court. The defence will usually submit character references and other documents which are required to aid with mitigating factors.
It is common for both parties to reference case law to support their arguments. Case law is important as it is a collection of past legal decisions written by courts in the course of deciding cases.
Throughout the hearing, the Judge will listen to both sides’ submissions and ultimately deliver a decision.
What Considerations Are Made When Determining A Sentence?
Section 9(2) of the Act states factors which the court must consider when deciding on a sentence which is appropriate.
For example, this includes factors such as:
- what is the maximum penalty prescribed for the offence,
- the nature and seriousness of the harm done,
- the previous convictions of the offender,
- the offenders age, character and intellectual capacity,
- the prevalence of the offence, and
- any other relevant circumstances.
Penalty Options Available?
There are a range of penalties that Queensland Courts can impose on an offender, including:
- community service order,
- intensive correction order,
- suspended sentence,
- parole, and
Will You Have A Conviction Recorded?
Section 12 of the Act outlines factors that must be considered by the Judge or Magistrate when deciding whether to record a conviction.
These factors include:
- adverse effect on employment prospects,
- prospects of rehabilitation,
- whether it was of the lower end of the scale for the offence, and
- whether it was a person’s first offence etc.
In certain cases the court may deem that no conviction be recorded for the charge.
In conclusion, it is important to contact us early for your best chance at success.
How We Can Help
Our criminal lawyers are passionate about defending criminal charges and have expert knowledge of the justice system.
As a result, we can provide the best legal representation. We can assist across the range of criminal charges, including bail applications, drug-related offences, sexual offences and violent offences.
Most importantly, our lawyers are available to meet at any of our 5 local offices, via Skype or video-conference.
We recommend our clients attend an initial consultation with our lawyers to discuss the charges, map out potential penalties and determine what information will be required to put the best case forward.
If you are unable to attend a meeting, our lawyers are available by telephone or can attend the correctional facility if you have been detained.
We are available to meet with you at any of our local offices (Brisbane, Gold Coast, Beenleigh, Cleveland and Jimboomba) or by telephone or video-conference.
This article is for your information and interest only. It is not intended to be comprehensive, and it does not constitute and must not be relied on as legal advice. You must seek specific advice tailored to your circumstances.