Suspended Sentence

A suspended sentence is a term of imprisonment that is fully or partially suspended for a certain period. Suspended sentences have been abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.

During the period of suspension, known as the operational period, the offender is free to live in the community on the condition that he or she does not commit a further offence punishable by imprisonment. If the offender breaches this condition, in addition to being sentenced for the new offence, the suspended prison sentence will be activated unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Suspended Sentences in the Supreme and County Courts

Changes to the law in mid 2013 mean that neither the Supreme Court nor the County Court may suspend a sentence of imprisonment for any offence committed on or after 1 September 2013.

The power of these courts to suspend a sentence of imprisonment for an offence committed before 1 September 2013 is also subject to several limitations.

Offences Committed Between 1 November 2006 and 30 April 2011

If the offence is 'serious’ or 'significant’, the Supreme or County Court may suspend the sentence only if there are exceptional circumstances and it is in the interests of justice to do so.

Serious and significant offences include:

  • murder and manslaughter
  • rape and other serious sexual offences
  • intentionally causing serious injury and recklessly causing serious injury
  • armed robbery
  • aggravated burglary
  • arson and arson causing death
  • commercial drug trafficking.

Offences Committed Between 1 May 2011 and 31 August 2013

The Supreme and County Courts may suspend a sentence of imprisonment only if the offence is not a 'serious' or 'significant' offence.

Suspended Sentences in the Magistrates’ Court

The Magistrates’ Court cannot suspend a sentence of imprisonment for any offence committed on or after 1 September 2014.

Offences Committed Prior to 1 September 2014

The Magistrates' Court may suspend a sentence of imprisonment unless the sentence is being imposed for a serious or significant offence.

In 2014, the Council published Community Correction Orders: Monitoring Report, which looks at the first 18 months of community correction orders and the extent to which they have replaced suspended sentences of imprisonment as a sentencing order.

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