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0800 650 654 24/7 Victims Information Line

Understanding sentences

The court can give a range of sentences (and combination of sentences) depending on what's appropriate in the circumstances. Not all offenders will go to prison, even when they're found guilty.

Sentencing also comes at the end of what is usually a long court process. You may have focused all your energy and attention on the court process and it's quite common to feel lost, disappointed or let down after it's over. This is a normal reaction.

What sentences can the court give?

When deciding on a sentence, the judge must consider things like how serious the crime was, normal sentences for this kind of crime, and the interests of the people affected by the crime.

The court may:

If a young person is seen in the Youth Court they are subject to orders from a Youth Court judge. You can read more (external link) about the different types of orders a Youth Court judge can make.

Understanding sentences is not always easy. The officer in charge or your court victim advisor can explain what the sentence means.

You will be told what sentence the offender gets

You have the right to be told what sentence the offender gets, even if you're not in court for the sentencing hearing.

If you think the sentence is too light, you can talk to the prosecutor who may decide to appeal against it. Offenders can appeal if they think the sentence is too heavy.

If a serious crime was committed against you, you may be able to get information about what happens to the offender after sentencing, such as release dates and parole hearings. Talk to the officer in charge or your court victim advisor about going on the Victim Notification Register so you can get this information.  

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