Sentencing in Victoria is governed by a combination of legislation (laws made by parliament) and common law (laws made by the courts). Three arms of government are involved in sentencing:
- the legislature (parliament)
- the judiciary (courts)
- the executive (ministers and administrative entities).
Parliament makes the legislation that defines what an offence is and the maximum penalty that can be imposed on someone convicted of the offence.
Courts are independent of parliament. However, courts must interpret and apply laws within the framework that parliament sets.
The executive arm of government includes agencies that run correctional services, such as prisons and youth detention centres. Correctional services also supervise offenders who have been sentenced to community correction orders.
The adult and youth parole boards are also part of the executive arm of government. Parole boards decide whether a person should be released on parole and supervise people who are granted parole. Parole boards are independent of parliament and the courts.
Legislation Relating to Sentencing
The most important piece of legislation affecting sentencing in Victoria is the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic). It sets out:
- the purposes and principles of sentencing
- the considerations a court must take into account in sentencing
- the hierarchy of sentencing options for adults.
Most indictable offences (serious offences) in Victoria are set out in the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic). Most summary offences (less serious offences) are set out in the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic). Some offences are set out in other legislation, such as the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) and the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic).
People in Victoria can be charged and tried under both Victorian and Commonwealth laws. Victorian courts can sentence both Victorian and Commonwealth offences.
When sentencing an offender for a Victorian offence, Victorian courts apply the powers they have under:
- the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) when sentencing an adult
- the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic) when sentencing a child.
When sentencing an offender for a Commonwealth offence, Victorian courts generally apply the powers they have under the Commonwealth Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).
Victorian Acts and other legislation are found on the Victorian Legislation website.
Some key Victorian Acts relating to sentencing matters are:
- Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic)
- Confiscation Act 1997 (Vic)
- Corrections Act 1986 (Vic)
- Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 (Vic)
- Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)
- Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic)
- Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic)
- Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic)
- Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)
- Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic)
- Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 (Vic)
- Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic).
Information about Commonwealth legislation can be found on the Federal Register of Legislation.
The information on this page (except all logos and any third-party content linked to from this page) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.