ABOUT sentencing

If you plead or are found guilty, the Court will then proceed to the sentencing phase of the criminal justice process.

This is where argument is heard from defence and prosecution and the Court determines the sentence you will receive. A skilled criminal lawyer can ensure that you receive proper consideration under the law and that any sentence imposed is in proportion to the crime and as lenient as possible.

In representing you at sentence, we may be able to convince the Court to:

  • Not impose a criminal conviction (and let you keep your clean criminal record).
  • Not impose jail time. Where jail is a possibility, our lawyers will paint the best possible picture of your personal circumstances and use legal argument and persuasion in our efforts to convince the Court to impose a non-custodial sentence.
  • Reduce jail time. In circumstances where jail is unavoidable we will argue to keep the length of that sentence as short as possible. Importantly, we can also assist by arguing for lenient parole eligibility or release date conditions.

If you plead or are found guilty, the Court will then proceed to the sentencing phase of the criminal justice process. This is where argument is heard from defence and prosecution and the Court determines the sentence you will receive. A skilled criminal lawyer can ensure that you receive proper consideration under the law and that any sentence imposed is in proportion to the crime and as lenient as possible.

 

In representing you at sentence, we may be able to convince the Court to:

  • Not impose a criminal conviction (and let you keep your clean criminal record).
  • Not impose jail time. Where jail is a possibility, our lawyers will paint the best possible picture of your personal circumstances and use legal argument and persuasion in our efforts to convince the Court to impose a non-custodial sentence.
  • Reduce jail time. In circumstances where jail is unavoidable we will argue to keep the length of that sentence as short as possible. Importantly, we can also assist by arguing for lenient parole eligibility or release date conditions.

TYPES OF sentence

WHEN DECIDING ON A SENTENCE, THE COURT CONSIDERS MANY FACTORS, INCLUDING:

NON-CUSTODIAL SENTENCES

Non-custodial sentences are penalties that don’t include prison. Some of these sentence options can be added together by the Court.

ABSOLUTE RELEASE – Release without a recorded conviction or any further penalty.

GOOD BEHAVIOUR BONDS – A promise of good behaviour for a set period, which may include a surety (agreement to pay an amount of money if you breach) and other conditions.

RESTITUTION OR COMPENSATION ORDER – An order for you to pay for property you’ve taken or damaged, or to compensate someone for an injury.

NON-CONTACT OR BANNING ORDER – A ban on you contacting the victim of the offence or another person, or from going to particular places (such as licenced premises) for a set time.

FINE – An order to pay a fine as punishment for the offence. The amount depends on the type of offence and matters relevant to you.

If you can’t pay the fine (in lump sum or by instalments), you can apply to change it to unpaid community service.

COMMUNITY SERVICE ORDER – An order for you to do unpaid community service and comply with reporting and other conditions.

PROBATION – An order allowing you to remain in the community and report regularly to a probation officer.

CUSTODIAL SENTENCES

A custodial sentence means a sentence of imprisonment (but doesn’t necessarily mean you actually go to jail).

IMPRISONMENT

Often means actual time in prison. The maximum prison term depends on the offence and the length of the term depends on many different considerations. Depending on the offence, the Court can also set a parole eligibility or release date. Often a Court set release date or parole eligibility order will be of great importance to you as it will have real significance on real time behind bars. If sentenced to imprisonment but the Court accepts defence argument for immediate parole, you will not serve any actual jail time (unless you breach your parole).

SUSPENDED SENTENCE OF IMPRISONMENT

The Court may suspend all, or part, of your jail sentence for a set period. Essentially, it allows you to serve all (or part) of your jail sentence at home but with there being serious repercussions for re-offending. If you commit another offence punishable by jail while you are on a suspended sentence, you may then serve the original suspended jail time plus the sentence for the new offence.

INTENSIVE CORRECTION ORDER

A prison sentence of 1 year or less served in the community under intensive supervision. You are required to report to a supervisor regularly, attend rehabilitation programs and counselling, and perform community service.

INDEFINITE PRISON SENTENCE

A sentence for an indefinite period – usually for very serious, violent offences and sexual offences. The Court may impose this sentence if it believes you are a danger to the community because of your history, character, age, health or mental condition; the severity of the offence; and any other circumstances it finds relevant.

SPECIAL COURT orders

DRUG COURT

The Drug Court also has the option to order intensive drug rehabilitation instead of time in prison. To be eligible, you must plead guilty and have no outstanding charges for sexual offences or offences involving physical violence. This order involves a suspended prison sentence of up to 4 years, with accompanying conditions and a rehabilitation program.

When the rehabilitation program ends, the Court must reconsider the initial sentence, discontinue the current order and impose a final sentence. If you have successfully completed the order you will normally avoid actual jail time.

If you are looking for a lawyer who will provide you with personal attention and formidable representation, then Rawlings Criminal Law is here for you.

 

Book your initial free consultation and let’s get your problem sorted.

 

If you are looking for a lawyer who will provide you with personal attention and formidable representation, then Rawlings Criminal Law is here for you.

 

Book your initial free consultation and let’s get your problem sorted.

 

CONSIDERATIONS IN sentencing

WHEN DECIDING ON A SENTENCE, THE COURT CONSIDERS MANY FACTORS, INCLUDING:

  • The seriousness of the crime
  • The effect on the victim
  • The extent to which you are to blame for the offence
  • Any remorse you may have shown
  • Your personal background and circumstances
  • Whether you have a criminal history – if so, for what offences and how recent
  • Letters of support and recommendation you may have provided
  • Any cooperation you have provided to police
  • Whether and when you pleaded guilty
  • Any counselling you have had for any problems that contributed to the offence
  • Reports provided in your support from a doctor, psychologist, or other professional
  • Submissions and arguments from the prosecutor and defence lawyers
  • The laws that guide sentences
  • Sentences given in similar cases (case law)

 

There is real skill and knowledge involved in presenting sentencing submissions to the Court in an understandable, persuasive, and successful manner. Time is often required to gather reports and letters of support along with preparing submissions and relevant case law, so acting early is strongly advised.

PARTICULAR OFFENCES and sentencing

In some areas of concern the government has introduced special laws to target a particular type of crime and this may make bring other factors into relevance in the sentencing process.

VIOLENT OFFENCES

In Queensland, violent offences are subject to stricter sentencing principles than many other types of offences.

The following sentencing philosophies (which apply to most offences) do not apply for violent offences:

  • A sentence of imprisonment should only be imposed as a last resort
  • A sentence that allows the offender to stay in the community is preferable

When sentencing for violent offences the Court will have primary regard to the following matters:

  • The risk of physical harm to any members of the community if a custodial sentence were not imposed on the offender
  • The need to protect any members of the community from that risk
  • The personal circumstances of any victim of the offence
  • The circumstances of the offence, including whether death or injury was caused to a member of the public or any loss or damage resulting from the offence
  • The nature or extent of the violence used (or intended to be used) in the commission of the offence
  • Any disregard by the offender for the interests of public safety
  • The past record of the offender, including any rehabilitation and whether there are previous convictions
  • The offender’s antecedents, age, and character
  • Any remorse or lack of remorse shown by the offender
  • Any medical, psychiatric, or other relevant report
  • Anything else about the safety of members of the community that the Court considers relevant

Some particularly serious offences can lead to a “Serious violent offence” declaration. Depending on the level of seriousness of the offence, these orders can either be mandatory or discretionary (i.e. the Court “must” or “may”) make the declaration. If the Court makes such a declaration, it must impose a sentence of imprisonment and the sentence must not allow release from prison before 80% of the term of imprisonment, or 15 years (whichever is lesser), has been served. Rawlings Criminal Law is often able to assist in these precarious situations through either charge negotiation (see above) or argument in sentencing.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OFFENCES

 

Sentencing laws require the Court to treat the fact that the offence is a domestic violence offence as an aggravating factor (making the punishment worse) when deciding the appropriate sentence (unless there are exceptional circumstances not to do so).

 

It should also be borne in mind that choking offences are indictable only (meaning that they are considered too serious for the Magistrate’s Court and must proceed in the District Court).

SEXUAL OFFENCES

 

This general category of offences covers a wide range of criminal conduct, including:

  • Exposing yourself in public (called performing an indecent act);
  • Inappropriate touching of another person without their consent (called sexual assault)
  • Having sexual intercourse with another person without their consent (called rape)
  • Prohibited pornography (called child exploitation material)
  • Photographing or videoing someone’s genitals without their consent (called recording in breach of privacy)
  • Child sexual offences (this itself is a broad category)

 

Sexual offences are treated particularly seriously under Queensland law and they all attract a maximum penalty of imprisonment. Indeed, the most serious of these offences carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Conviction on many such offences means automatic inclusion on a Sexual Offenders Register which requires, among other things, the person to keep police notified of their address, workplace, vehicle, internet connections, tattoos, interaction with children, and travel intentions.

 

Some sexual offences can lead to a “Serious violent offence” declaration. Depending on the level of seriousness of the offence, these orders can either be mandatory or discretionary (i.e. the Court “must” or “may”) make the declaration. If the Court makes such a declaration, it must impose a sentence of imprisonment and the sentence must not allow release from prison before 80% of the term of imprisonment, or 15 years (whichever is lesser), has been served. Rawlings Criminal Law is often able to assist in these precarious situations through either charge negotiation (see above) or argument in sentencing.

 

If you have been charged with a sexual offence it is imperative that you obtain expert legal advice as soon as possible.

If you are looking for a lawyer who will provide you with personal attention and formidable representation, then Rawlings Criminal Law is here for you.

 

Book your initial free consultation and let’s get your problem sorted.

 

If you are looking for a lawyer who will provide you with personal attention and formidable representation, then Rawlings Criminal Law is here for you.

 

Book your initial free consultation and let’s get your problem sorted.