Sentencing hearing

The sentencing hearing may take place on the same day as the plea hearing or on a later date decided by the judge.

At this hearing the judge will tell the offender what their sentence is. The sentence may include imprisonment, a fine, or order that the person performs community work or attends drug or alcohol counselling.

Maximum penalties are rare

It is very rare for maximum penalties to be given in sentencing. Maximum penalties are legislated by the parliament and used by the courts as a reference point when sentencing. This means that judges can impose a sentence that is up to but not exceeding the maximum penalty and is consistent with other sentences previously given in similar cases.

In sentencing, the judge will take into account the impact of the crime on the victim. The Victim Impact Statement is one way they can do this. Other factors that will be taken into account include:

  • the nature and seriousness of the crime
  • the circumstances of the offender (age, background, prospects for rehabilitation)
  • the offender’s past criminal history
  • whether the offender pleaded guilty
  • the need to deter the convicted offender from committing further crimes
  • the need to deter others from committing similar crimes.

The judge will usually impose a maximum sentence and a minimum sentence. If there is more than one offence the maximum sentence is called the total effective sentence. The minimum sentence is called the non-parole period, which is the time served before the offender is eligible for parole. Any sentence will take into account time already served. This is known as pre-sentence detention.

An accused person may appeal against the severity of their sentence.

For more information about sentencing, visit the Sentencing Advisory Council at www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au