What Will Happen to Me If I am Sentenced in Victoria?
Courts have a number of options from which to choose when deciding how to sentence someone who has been convicted of an offence.
If you are sentenced for a crime in Victoria, the judge will consider a number of factors, including the severity of the crime, the need to protect society, the deterrent value of a sentence, and your character. Your criminal record, good deeds, and efforts at rehabilitation are considered as part of your character. You will have the best chance of obtaining a favourable sentence if you are represented by a lawyer at sentencing.
A judge can postpone sentencing for up to 12 months, with your agreement, if the judge thinks that would be in your best interest. A postponement would give you a chance to show the judge that you can stay out of trouble. It would also give you time to complete treatment or rehabilitation programs and to take other steps to demonstrate your commitment to rehabilitation.
A judge in Victoria can impose one (or, in some cases, a combination) of the following penalties when an offender is sentenced:
- Community corrections
- Drug treatment
Home detention and intensive correction orders have been replaced by community corrections orders. Victorian judges cannot impose suspended sentences for crimes committed after 1 September 2014.
A judge can impose any custodial sentence up to the maximum set by Parliament. Only a few crimes in Victoria require the judge to impose a minimum sentence. As a guiding principle, the judge is not to impose a longer sentence than is necessary to meet the objectives of sentencing.
The judge can attach a “non-parole period” to a sentence. After that period expires, the parole authorities will decide whether to grant an early release. The offender must serve the entire sentence if the judge does not attach a “non-parole period.”
A community corrections order is sometimes referred to as “probation.” It allows the offender to remain in the community, subject to certain conditions. Those may include (among other conditions):
- Travel restrictions
- Reporting to a community corrections centre
- Participating in treatment programs
- Performing community service
- Having no contact with specified persons or places
- Abiding by a curfew
Committing a new crime or violating any other condition may result in a return to court for the imposition of a sentence of imprisonment.
Drug treatment order
The Victorian Drug Court can impose a term of imprisonment of up to two years and suspend the sentence while the offender completes a drug treatment program. If the offender successfully completes the program, the term of imprisonment will not be served. This punishment is not available for sexual assaults or other violent crimes.
A fine can be imposed in addition to other punishments. The court can also decide that a fine will be the only punishment.