We distinguish here between Local Court pleas and sentencing proceedings in the District or Supreme Court. For Local Court matters, see our Plea of Guilty page.

In the District Court, the time constraints are entirely different from the Local Court.  Decisions have to be made about whether or not you, as the client, should give evidence. Evidence might also be called from experts such as doctors, psychiatrists or psychologists, as well as character witnesses who can attest to prior excellent character.

Generally, the stakes are significantly higher in the District or Supreme Court, but not necessarily for example where the sentencing proceedings are in relation to an appeal from the Local Court.

Having a criminal law specialist look after your matter is simply common sense.  Why would you take the risk with something so important?

We assist with all preparation, advice on character evidence material and can answer your questions and concerns. We can also advise if the use of a criminal barrister is warranted, depending on such matters as the nature of the offence, and the various legislative provisions in the sentencing legislation. We have access to sentencing statistics and applicable case law.

What is a Pre-Sentence Report?

A Pre-Sentence Report is a report prepared at the request of the Court by the Probation and Parole Service. The report sets out background material concerning the accused person; their attitude the offending behavior and canvases available sentencing options available to the Court – such as community service, periodic detention and whether there is a need for supervision by the Probation and Parole Service.

What is A Pre-Sentence Report Options Report?

This is a report prepared by the Probation and Parole Service at the request of the court. It is a pre-sentence report but does not contain detailed background information. Instead, it focuses on the availability and suitability of the client for community service or periodic detention. It may make a recommendation regarding whether or not supervision would be appropriate – especially if the accused may be at risk of re-offending due to drug and alcohol or anger management problems.

Can I Appeal Against Sentence?

Yes. In the Local Court you have a right of appeal to the District Court either against the severity of the sentence or against the conviction. An appeal is lodged at the Local Court registry and a fee is paid. Time limits apply – 28 days. If you fail to appeal within that time, you can still lodge an appeal with the leave of the Court provided you do so within 90 days from the sentencing date.

In the District Court, you can appeal against conviction if you are found guilty by a jury or judge sitting alone in a trial. You can also appeal against sentence. Appeals from the District court go to the Court of Criminal Appeal. Generally speaking they take around 6 months until they are heard.

What are the Sentencing Options in the Local Court?

Some offences only carry a fine as a penalty. However, others carry potential imprisonment. Unless the offence only carries a fine, the penalties include good behaviour bonds, fines, community service orders, period detention, suspended gaol sentences, full time imprisonment and home detention. It is possible that no conviction be recorded and the matter dismissed.

What Sentencing Options Are Available generally?

Depending on the specific offence, penalties generally include a fine, Good Behaviour Bond, Community Service Order, Periodic Detention order; Suspended Prison Sentence; Home Detention order or full time imprisonment.

What are the Sentencing Principles?

In determining sentence, a court will have regard to the objective seriousness of an offence, as well as the subjective circumstances. Objective circumstances include the maximum penalty for an offence, whether any violence was involved, whether the accused was on conditional liberty such as a bond or parole at the time of the offence etc. Subjective circumstances include the age and character of the offender, contrition, whether restitution has been paid, leniency for an early guilty plea, hardship contrition and any delay in the proceedings.

The court will consider the principles of general and specific deterrence (to stop the offender as well as others from offending), rehabilitation prospects, protection of the community, denunciation, retribution.

Factors to be taken into account are set out in the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act including both aggravating and mitigating factors.