Seven main sentences can be imposed in Victorian Magistrates Courts where 90% of all criminal and traffic offences are heard. These sentences which can be imposed on persons (called defendants) who plead guilty or are found guilty are:
- Imprisonment, The defendant, is sentenced to a term of imprisonment (e.g. six months ) which must be served in full in a Victorian prison
- Youth Justice Centre order The defendant can be sentenced to up to two years custody in a youth justice centre provided they are under 21 at the date of the court hearing
- Suspended sentences the defendant is convicted to a term of imprisonment (e.g. 6 months)which is suspended for a period of up to 2 years.
- The sentence is either wholly suspended (no time in gaol) or partially suspended (e.g. three months in gaol and three months suspended for say 12 months)
- Defendants who commit further offences during the period of the suspended sentence usually go to gaol unless they can show exceptional circumstances.
- Suspended sentences are being phased out in Victoria and are now only available in the Magistrates Court for offences that occurred before 1 September 2014
- Drug Treatment order DTO the defendant is placed on a DTO for an alcohol or drug-related offence This sentence includes close monitoring and treatment for the defendant DTOs are quite rare in Victoria as they can only be imposed by the Drug Court located at Dandenong and then only for defendants who live near Dandenong
- Community Corrections Order (CCO)this sentence is imposed for reasonably serious offences as an alternative to imprisonment.CCOs involve defendants doing unpaid community work (e.g. 100 hours) or drug alcoholic psychological counselling or both for a specified period (e.g. 12 months)A CCO can also involve an imprisonment order (e.g., 3months imprisonment then 12 months CCO) for serious offences. However, a CCO and a suspended sentence cannot be imposed on a defendant at the one hearing.
- Fine This the most common sentence imposed in the Magistrates Court for relatively minor criminal and traffic offences This sentence usually takes the form of a monetary penalty, e.g., $1500 with time to pay, e.g., three months.
Adjournment with undertaking This is usually imposed for first offenders charged with minor offences.It involves the defendant signing an undertaking to be of good behaviour for a set period, e.g., 12 months. Other conditions of the undertaking may include a contribution to the court fund, e.g. $400.
Finally, there are two matters to bear in mind about these sentences described above
Firstly they only apply to breaches of state law in the Magistrates Court They do not apply to Children's Court offences or breaches of Commonwealth law which have their own sentencing regime.
Secondly, CCOs fines and adjournment with undertaking can be imposed with or without a conviction All other sentences mentioned above involve a conviction
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.