In Victoria, following a plea of guilty to a criminal offence, or where a person has pleaded not guilty but been found guilty following a trial, a sentencing hearing will follow. Sentencing in criminal law cases is governed by the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) and relevant cases. Criminal lawyers prepare carefully for this case to ensure that all relevant matters are mentioned to the sentencing Judge.
The Judge takes into account two main sets of facts – the circumstances of the criminal charge, and the circumstances of the offender. Drink driving penalties for instance involve consideration of the driver’s blood alcohol content, whether any damage was caused to other property or injury to other persons, and also the driver’s previous history and their personal circumstances. The offender’s circumstances may include their professional history, family circumstances, prior criminal history, and any relevant medical or psychological factors. Your criminal lawyer will be able to give you further information as to the factors that are relevant to sentencing in your case, and how your personal circumstances will be presented to the court.
If you are facing sentencing for a sexual offence, your sexual offence lawyers may focus on other mitigating factors such as attempts made at rehabilitation (for instance by seeking professional help at the earliest stage). Each case is significantly different, though past criminal law cases may provide some guidance as to the relevant factors and the likely penalty. A good criminal lawyer will know what sort of sentences have been imposed in similar cases in the past and will be able to tell you what the likely outcome will be.
A significant factor in mitigation of sentence is past history. In every case, there is a story to tell about the person’s education, work history, and family circumstances. Most people will be able to provide their criminal lawyer with written character references, either from a family friend, a professional colleague, or another person who things highly of that person and has a good word to tell the court about the person’s history and qualities.
In many criminal law cases, the person facing the court has never before been in trouble and has had a momentary lapse of judgment. The role of criminal lawyers Melbourne is to persuade the court to impose an appropriate disposition, having regard to all relevant factors.
Victorian sentencing is a matter of significant complexity and there are a number of penalties that may be available in your case, including financial penalties, community based orders, and suspended sentences of imprisonment as well as immediate custody. Immediate imprisonment is the last resort in Victoria, and it will not be imposed in every case coming before the court.
Another issue for consideration is whether a criminal conviction will be imposed, or whether a penalty without conviction is likely. Your criminal lawyers Melbourne are able to assist you in explaining how the law applies to your circumstances, and how your case can be presented in the best possible light.