When sentencing for any offence, imprisonment is considered to be a measure of last resort. There are a number of factors that a magistrate or judge will take into account when determining the term of imprisonment. This can include:
A non-parole period is as the name suggests – the minimum period in which the offender is in full-time custody and is not eligible for parole. The offender can apply for parole once this period ends.
Some offences have a legislated standard non-parole period. This represents the non-parole period for an offence in the middle of the range of objective seriousness. A judge or magistrate will take this into account as well as the maximum penalty to determine the appropriate sentence.
For a sentence of imprisonment of more than 6 months, the court will usually impose a non-parole period.
This is determined by considering factors like:
Additionally, the non-parole period must not be less than three quarters of the total sentence unless there is a finding of special circumstances.
An aggregate sentence takes into account multiple offences to impose a total period of imprisonment. This sentence cannot exceed the sum of the maximum periods of imprisonment for each separate offences.
The court must also indicate that they are imposing an aggregate sentence and specify the sentence they would have imposed for each separate offence.
The maximum aggregate sentence you can receive in the Local Court is five years.
As mentioned earlier, special circumstances can affect the length of a non-parole period.
Legislation does not tell us exactly what is considered to be ‘special circumstances’, however, some past cases have successfully argued the following:
Sometimes, it may be the accumulation of a number of these factors or other relevant factors which leads to a finding of ‘special circumstances’.
The start date for the term of imprisonment will usually be the day the sentence is delivered. If, however, the offender has served time in custody awaiting their trial or sentencing, this may be taken into account and the start date can be backdated.
These are only some of the factors involved in the sentencing process. Factors related to all types of sentence can be found on our webpage here. Given the complexity of the sentencing process, we highly recommend seeking legal advice from one of our sentencing experts.
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