Sentencing in the Local Court
An short outline of the process of sentencing in the local court
If you have been charged with an offence and have decided to plead guilty, then the following is an outline of the steps involved in sentencing in the local court.
1- The offender enters a plea of guilty in local court.
2- The prosecutions tender a copy of the facts sheet and offenders criminal history.
3- The offender then tenders any subjective material, i.e. character references/ letters of employment, or medical evidence, they seek to reply on.
4- The magistrate will read all the material tendered at court.
5- At this time the magistrate may request a Pre-Sentence Report (PSR) if the offences are serious. If a PSR is requested, the matter is adjourned for a period of 4- 6 weeks.
6- The magistrate may request a Duty PSR which is obtained on the day of the sentence.
7- If the magistrate does not require PSR, then the defence and prosecution make submissions as what penalties the court should impose.
8- If the magistrate is thinking of imposing a home detention order, Intensive corrections order or community service, then the matter is adjourned to determine if the offender is suitable for theses sentencing options.
What are the different sentencing options in the Local Court?
- Section 10 – No conviction recorded
- Section 9 – Good behaviour bond
- Community service order
- Section 12 – Suspended sentence
- Intensive correction order
- Home detention
- Prison sentence
What is a Pre-Sentence Report (PSR)?
A pre-sentence report is ordered by the court in circumstances where the magistrate wants to look at other options aside from a sentence of full-time imprisonment. A PSR is generally only ordered when:
1. The offence is very serious, and may warrant a sentence of full-time imprisonment and/or
2. The offender has a lengthy criminal history.
A PSR is prepared by an officer of the Community Corrections (Probation & Parole service). This process involves interviews with the offenders, their family members and possibly health professionals. The report will explore the reasons why the offences where committed. The court will also recommend sentencing options to the court.
Remember that a sentence of full-time imprisonment should only be imposed as an option of last resort.
What happens when I can’t afford to pay my court imposed fines?
The court will allow you 28 days to pay any fines the court imposes. If you are unable pay these fines within 28 days, then it is best to make a payment arrangement with the Local Court Registry after you are sentenced.
If you have been charged with an offence, call one of our experienced solicitors at LY Lawyers on 1300 595 299.