When you plead guilty or are found guilty of an offence, a Magistrate or Judge will impose a sentence as a penalty for committing the offence. There are many different sentences available to the Magistrate or Judge, such as a fine, a community based order (including probation and community service) or a term of imprisonment.
The sentencing Magistrate or Judge must be guided by the sentencing principles set out in the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld). A sentence can be imposed to:-
- punish the offender;
- assist in rehabiliting the offender;
- deter the offender from committing further offences;
- deter the community from committing offences; and
- protect the community from the offender.
The sentencing Magistrate or Judge must also take certain factors into consideration when deciding the appropriate sentence. These factors include any mitigating features relevant to the matter.
The sentencing Magistrate or Judge must take into account any mitigating features that you have in your favour. Mitigating features are your personal circumstances that should be taken into account to reduce your sentence.
The following are some examples of mitigating features that may be able to be relied on to reduce your sentence:-
- pleading guilty to an offence, particularly in circumstances where your plea has been entered at an early stage;
- a lack of criminal history;
- co-operation with authorities;
- remorse; and
- personal circumstances at the time of the offending, such as illness.
Your solicitor will tell the sentencing Magistrate or Judge the mitigating features in your favour, and will often hand up material to support their submissions. This can include character references, or medical reports.
As your sentence will depend on your personal circumstances, as well as the nature of your offence, you should not assume that you will receive the same sentence as a friend or someone you have heard about in the media who was charged with a similar offence. While our solicitors are able to provide advice as to the expected penalty range, the sentence you receive is ultimately at the discretion of the sentencing Magistrate or Judge.
The sentencing Magistrate or Judge must give reasons for the sentence imposed on you. If you do not agree with the sentence, or you think it is unfair, you are able to appeal the sentence. You must file your appeal within 1 calendar month (for all Magistrates Court, District Court and Supreme Court matters) or you may lose your right to do so.
If you would like to discuss your matter, or have our office represent you, please contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.