Sentencing and penalties
If you have been found guilty of, or plead guilty to an offence, a judicial officer will take several considerations into account before deciding on a sentence.
The Sentencing Act 1991 restricts the maximum total sentence that may be ordered in any Magistrates’ Court to:
- two years’ imprisonment for a single offence
- five years’ imprisonment for multiple offences and/or
- fines of up to 500 penalty units for individuals and up to 2,500 penalty units for corporations, where an individual or corporation has been convicted of an indictable offence tried summarily.
When a sentence is given, a judicial officer will consider many factors including, but not limited to:
- the seriousness of the crime
- the effect on the victim
- the extent to which you are to blame for the offence
- your personal circumstances and criminal history
- whether you have cooperated with police
- whether you have had counselling for any problems that contributed to the offence
- submissions from the prosecutor and defence lawyers.
You should always keep a copy of court documents you receive. If you lose a court document, you may be able to get another copy. See the documents and recordings page for information about requesting court documents.
If you do not understand your sentence or penalty, you should seek legal advice. See the legal help page for information about available legal services.
There are many penalties a judicial officer can impose in court. The penalties below are some of the most common.
There are many sentencing orders a judicial officer can make. The following sentencing orders are some of the most common.
Where a charge is proven, the court may make an order dismissing the charge without recording a conviction or imposing a penalty.
See the Sentencing Act 1991 for a full list of sentencing options and penalties.
Adjournment with undertaking
If a charge is proven, it may be adjourned for up to five years and you can be asked to enter an undertaking that you will be of good behaviour during a certain time period and follow any conditions imposed by the court. A conviction may or may not be recorded.
A fine is a monetary penalty and can be imposed with or without a conviction. See the fines page for more information.
Community Corrections Order
A Community Corrections Order (CCO) is a flexible order that allows a sentence to be served in the community. A judicial officer can impose a CCO on its own or together with another penalty. A CCO may require you to perform unpaid community work and/or to participate in programs or courses to assist your rehabilitation.
A CCO will impose a number of core conditions and you should speak to your lawyer or a Community Corrections Officer about these. It can also include conditions that you live in a certain place, don’t associate with certain people and not attend certain places. A CCO may be ordered with or without conviction.
See the Victoria Legal Aid or Corrections Prisons and Parole website for more information.
If you are found guilty of a serious offence, you may be sentenced to a period of imprisonment.
If you are under the age of 21, but over 17 years old, you can be sent to a youth detention centre.
This is not a full list of legislation associated with this topic. See the Victorian Government's legislation website for more information.