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Criminal Law Blog QLD

Sentencing fines and penalties for offences

Queensland has different penalties under its existing laws for an offender who is found guilty for violating the law. The magistrate or the judge handling the criminal case will consider the evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defence after which it will impose the appropriate penalty. However, the court also is vested with discretion in some criminal cases to not record a conviction.

Kinds of penalties:

Imprisonment/gaol/jail time

This is the most serious of all penalties that the court can impose only after considering all other alternative penalties applicable to the accused. It is a penalty of last resort. In ordering imprisonment, the court will include in its order the time that must be served in prison plus time to be spent for supervised parole. In addition to the imposition of imprisonment, the court likewise has the power to issue a Community Correction Order upon the release of the convict from gaol.

Imposing Fines

In imposing fines as penalty, the court will take into account the financial situation and the ability of the accused to pay. On the part of the accused, the latter can ask the court for more time to pay, to pay on instalment basis or to instead ask for community service in lieu of payment of fines.

Penalty Units

A single penalty unit is equivalent to $155.46. Thus, to convert the amount of penalty units into dollar equivalent, just multiply the number of units imposed by the court with $155.46. The court can still record a conviction even if it just imposes a fine.

Community Correction Orders (CCO)

The court may order the convicted person to render community service as penalty. Conditions may be attached to the CCO such as: unpaid work, supervision, prohibition to go to certain places, attendance in scheduled court appointments and treatment and rehabilitation.

Failure to comply with the conditions of the CCO is an offence punishable with a maximum penalty of three months imprisonment. A conviction may still be recorded by the court even if the penalty is a CCO.

Adjourned Undertaking

The court requires the convicted person to be of good behaviour for a certain period of time which means that during that specific timeframe no offences must be committed.  The maximum period that can be ordered in an adjourned undertaking is five years. The court may impose additional conditions like completing a course, seeing a counsellor and making a donation to charity. A compliance with the conditions results to a discharge of the case without further hearing. The court may still record a conviction in an adjourned undertaking.

Discharge

The court discharges an accused found guilty without imposing a penalty. However, a conviction is still recorded.

Dismissal

A dismissal is where the court finds the accused guilty but does not impose a penalty and does not record a conviction.

Other appropriate penalties and orders

1.Forfeiture order

An illegal item in the possession of the accused is declared by the court to be disposed and destroyed by the State.

2.Compensation and Restitution Orders

The court orders the accused to pay someone, usually the victim or plaintiff, who has suffered physical, emotional or pecuniary damage because of the offence committed.

Drug Treatment Order

This order can only be imposed by a Drug Court and issued only upon compliance with pre-conditions, including pleading guilty, admitting dependence on drugs or alcohol and upon showing that this dependency is a contributing factor to the commission of the offence. The Court must be satisfied that a penalty of imprisonment would have otherwise been appropriate. The accused must be a resident within the jurisdiction of the Drug Court.

Forensic Procedure Order

After finding the accused guilty and upon application of the police, the Court may issue an order for a forensic procedure. The Court will order the accused to provide a sample of DNA by buccal swab to the police. The DNA will be placed in the database of the police as a resource for criminal law investigations. In deciding whether to grant the application of the police for forensic procedure, the Court will take into consideration the gravity of the offence and that the order is justified.

Diversion: Avoiding a Criminal Record

In cases where the offence committed is very minor and if the accused does not have a criminal history, diversion may be resorted for the accused to avoid having a criminal record. Diversion involves dealing with the case outside the court’s system and must have the prosecution’s consent.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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