The role of a solicitor acting for a client on the sentencing of a matter is to prepare and present submissions to the court about the client and the circumstances of the case. The aim of the submissions is to ensure that the client obtains the most lenient and most appropriate sentence available.
In sentencing offenders, the court must take into account a number of governing principles such as the need to punish the offender, the need to deter the offender and others from committing the offence, the need to rehabilitate the offender and the need to protect the community. Although the court is bound to take these factors into consideration, ultimately the court exercises its discretion in determining what sentence is imposed.
Prior to appearing on your behalf for sentencing we will ask you to provide us with as much information as possible. In determining what sentence to impose the court will have regard to;
- The maximum penalty that can be imposed;
- The nature of the offence and the seriousness of the offence;
- Whether or not the offence involved violence;
- Any damage, injury or loss caused as a result of the commission of the offence;
- The offenders, age, character and intellectual capacity;
- The offender’s cooperation with law enforcement agencies and any assistance given to law enforcement agencies.
Therefore it is important that the court is informed of all of the relevant circumstances. There are a wide variety of sentencing options available to the Court. Listed below are the usual sentencing options available to the court.
A sentence of imprisonment is a last resort for the court. A sentence that allows the offender to stay in the community is preferable. Nevertheless imprisonment is a sentencing option which is available. Imprisonment will often be imposed in cases involving serious crimes or a repeat offender who has a long criminal history.
On being sentenced to imprisonment the court may decided to suspend the sentence. This often occurs in circumstances where the court feels as though a sentence of imprisonment is appropriate however they are willing to give the offender one more chance. On imposing a suspended sentence, the court will sentence the offender to a term of imprisonment however this sentence will be suspended thus the offender will not be sent to prison. Rather, during the sentence operational period the offender must not commit another offence punishable by imprisonment. A suspended sentence can only be imposed when the term of imprisonment is less than 5 years.
The court may make a Probation Order which states that the offender does not commit another offence, that they must report to the corrections officer and that the offender must take part in counselling or other specified programs. A term of probation can be imposed for a period of no less than 6 months and no more than three years.
If probation is a suitable sentencing option in your case, prior to being sentenced, we may organise an appointment for you with a court liaison from Community Corrections prior to the matter coming before the court for sentencing. The court liaison will assess your suitability for the program and will attend court to confirm their view with the court.
A community service order involves performing work within the community as directed by a corrective service officer. The court may make a community services order for a minimum of 40 hours and a maximum of 240 hours. The community service must be completed within 1 year from the making of the order.
A fine is the most common sanction imposed by the Courts. An offender may be fined in addition to or instead of any other sentence. The maximum fine which can be imposed is often determined by the type of offence which has been committed. In imposing the fine the court will have regard to the offender’s financial circumstances and their ability to pay the fine.
Restitution and compensation
It is common for the court to impose restitution or compensation order in situations where the offender has committed a crime against a person or property. An offender may be ordered to pay compensation to the victim for any loss or destruction or damage caused or alternatively for any personal injury suffered by the victim.
Good Behaviour Bond
The court may release an offender without conviction on the condition the offender be of good behaviour and appear before the court if required for the entire term of the bond. This will only be imposed in the least serious of cases.
Non recording of convictions
In cases where a term of imprisonment is not imposed the court has the discretion to decide whether or not to record a conviction. If a conviction is not record you will not have a recorded criminal record. Submissions can be made to the court as to why a conviction should not be recorded in your particular case. Although no conviction may be recorded, the court will still impose a sentence which you will have to comply with, for example the payment of a fine or restitution.
For more information, call us to discuss your case on 07 3229 4425.