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If you plead guilty to, or are found guilty of, an offence, a sentencing hearing will be scheduled and the court will adjourn your case until the date of this sentencing hearing. The court will decide whether you should be remanded on bail or kept in custody until the date of your sentencing hearing.

You will be notified of the date, time and place you are required to report for sentencing. It is important to note that you are required to attend. If you fail to do so, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest.

Note: it is recommended that you seek legal advice before attending sentencing. You can consult a lawyer for advice on sentencing even if you have not contacted them earlier in the process of your case. Remember, you may be eligible for legal aid and you may be able to get free legal advice from your nearest community law centre

Pre-sentence reports

Pre-sentence reports are routinely ordered by a judge on guilty plea or verdict. Pre-sentence reports are prepared by probation officers. If a pre-sentence report is ordered, you will be required to attend a meeting with a probation officer.

Pre-sentence reports contain:

  • details of your personal circumstances;
  • information about when the offending occurred; and
  • the probation officer’s recommendations about the type of sentence to be imposed, if a non-custodial sentence is being considered.

The information contained in these reports will be considered by the sentencing judge.  

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Sentence submissions

Prior to sentencing, both you and the prosecutor are expected to file written submissions. Those submissions may include information about:

  • the kind of sentence that should be imposed; and
  • whether there are factors relating to the offending, or yourself, that the judge should take into account in deciding the sentence. For example, you may provide information about your family situation, whether you have offended before, your ability to pay a fine, or your employment situation. 

Written submissions may be filed before your sentencing hearing, and it may be possible to make oral submissions at your sentencing hearing, with the permission of the judge.

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At the sentencing hearing

At the sentencing hearing, the judge may hear oral submissions from you and/or the prosecution, as outlined above.

Statements from the victim(s) about how they have been affected by the offence may also be read.

The judge will then talk to you about the matters they have taken into account and will then sentence you.

The severity of the sentence will depend on the maximum penalty for the offence and the seriousness of the offending. It will also be influenced by any materials that the judge has been provided with (for example, pre-sentence reports or written submissions).

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After the sentencing hearing

If you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment this will usually take effect immediately – you will be taken from the court directly to prison.

If you are sentenced to a non-custodial sentence, such as community detention or intensive supervision, you will remain in court until the required paper work has been prepared.

If you are discharged without conviction you will be free to go after your case has been heard.

Offender Levy

After you have been sentenced, you will be required to pay an offender levy. An offender levy is an automatically imposed fee of $50 that is required by law to be paid by anyone sentenced by a court.

You will receive a written notice shortly after you are sentenced and will be given 28 days to pay the levy. If you cannot afford to pay the levy you should contact fines as soon as possible. 

The offender levy funds a range of services for victims of serious crime and ensures that offenders contribute to addressing the harm that their crimes cause to victims.

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