If the accused person pleads guilty or is found guilty at court, the judge or magistrate must think about what penalty should be given. This is called sentencing the offender.
The judge or magistrate will think about:
- how serious the offence was
- the maximum penalty for the offence
- penalties given in other similar cases
- if the offender has been found guilty of previous offences
- the impact on you and other people affected by the crime.
If you or other people affected by the crime make a Victim Impact Statement, the judge or magistrate will consider it before sentencing the offender.
The offender or their lawyer can also give information to the court, which may help the judge or magistrate sentence the offender.
Alternatives to Jail
Not all offenders will go to jail, even when they are found guilty. The court may:
- adjourn (postpone) the case for a certain time if the offender agrees to sign an undertaking (promise) to do certain things, such as 'good behaviour'
- order the offender to pay a fine or court costs
- impose a community based order which requires the offender to do things over a set period of time like undertake training, drug and alcohol treatment or unpaid community work
- impose a suspended sentence which means the offender will only go to jail if they reoffend.
If the offender does go to jail and you are a victim of a violent crime, you can apply to join the Victims Register. The Victims Register gives specific information to victims about a prisoner's sentence.
Young offenders may be detained in a Youth Justice Centre, or ordered to be involved in other Youth Justice programs. For more information on Youth Justice in Victoria, visit the Department of Human Services website.
If a court finds the accused person not guilty, it means that there was not enough evidence to prove that they committed the crime, beyond reasonable doubt. It doesn’t mean that the crime didn’t happen, or that you weren’t a victim of the crime.