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  • 09 Criminal Offences, Penalties and Sentences
  • Sentencing
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This chapter explains what a sentence is, the source of sentencing law, the process of sentencing as well as the purpose and relevant considerations for the court in sentencing an offender. Different types of sentences are detailed (e.g. imprisonment, drug treatment orders and community service orders) and the particular laws applying to youths are discussed. The median (or average) sentence imposed for a number of offences is also provided.

Where does sentencing law come from?

Sentencing law comes from two sources: statute and the common law. In Tasmania, the Sentencing Act 1997 (Tas) is the statutory source of law for Tasmanian offences committed by adults. Juveniles, in all but the most exceptional cases, are sentenced under the Youth Justice Act 1997 (Tas). Some com...

What is a sentence?

A sentence is a punishment for a crime, any crime – from murder to drink driving. If a judge or a magistrate (“the court”) gives you the penalty it is a sentence. Fines, community service orders, probation orders – all of these are sentences, and the ability to hand down one of these sentences is...

Purposes and Considerations of Sentencing

Under section 3 of the Sentencing Act, a sentencing judge must consider the following purposes of sentencing in passing sentence: Deterrence, of others and of the offender Denunciation of the offence Retribution – punishment Protection of the community Rehabilitation The inter...

Proportionality, parsimony, and other limiting principles

The criminal justice system can only punish a person for acts they have committed, and to some extent take account of the harm they have done. In the process of sentencing it is possible for a judge to acknowledge the victim. This is why victim impact statements are a part of the court process – ...

Sentencing Under the Youth Justice Act

Sentencing under the Youth Justice Act considers the same factors as the sentencing of adults, with the difference that sentencing of youth considers rehabilitation to be the overriding purpose of sentencing for youths (section 47(3A)). Youths are housed separately to adults, at the Ashley juveni...

How does the court reach a sentencing decision?

This chapter still needs a description to be added

Crimes and Punishments

Murder and Manslaughter The range for murder for the period 1996 – 2000 ranged from 10 years to life. The Criminal Code uses the words ‘for the term of the person’s natural life’. From 1990 – 2000, there were 23 attempted murders. 1 offence received a sentence of 3-4 years imprisonment, 1 of 8-1...

Restraint or restraining orders

Section 106B of the Justices Act 1959 provides for the application for and approval process of restraint orders. There are four categories of people who may apply for a restraint order: police officers, a person against whom behaviour was directed, or who is a parent or guardian of a child agains...

Public opinion and sentencing

Don’t believe everything you read, hear or see in the media about crime. Stories of crime, graphic physical or sexual violence, violations of privacy and home security are all far more likely to move newspapers or magazines than the stories that statistics tell: crime is not increasing, humans ar...

Parole and Probation

Contrary to popular belief, most offenders do not reoffend. Recidivism rates depend on the offence and category within the offence group, whether the offender is a first time offender, or a repeat offender already, and also the age of the offender. Of course, recidivism data is not entirely relia...

Sentencing Policy

Federal and State similarities If you are convicted of a federal offence, that is – an offence created by Commonwealth statute, you will be sentenced under the federal Crimes Act, which contains sentencing principles of federal offences. State based offences, traffic offences, interpersonal v...


Tasmanian Sentencing Advisory Council: Kate Warner, Sentencing in Tasmania 2nd edn, Federation Press 2002 Annandale An excellent online resource is the Comments on Passing Sentence database on the Supreme Court website.

Page last updated 19/03/2018

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