When we talk about the sentencing scale in Victoria, we are referring to the range of sentencing options open to the Court.
The sentencing options, starting from the least severe to most severe are as follows:
Diversion (Section 59 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009)
Diversion is the only sentence that results in no formal finding of guilt. The matter is diverted to a date to be set by the Magistrate or Judicial Registrar and then discharged on that date. For more information see what is a diversion and how do I get a diversion.
Unconditional Dismissal (Section 76 of the Sentencing Act 1991)
Commonly referred to in court as “proven and dismissed”. This means the charge is found proven and recorded but with no penalty attached. For more information see proven and dismissed.
Unconditional Discharge (Section 73 of the Sentencing Act 1991)
Unconditional discharge attracts a conviction, this is the only difference between this disposition and an unconditional dismissal. For more information on the difference between a conviction and non-conviction, go here. It is important to note that a non-conviction does not mean you do not receive a criminal record on a finding of guilt.
Release on adjournment without conviction (Section 75 of the Sentencing Act 1991)
Commonly referred to in court as a “good behaviour bond”, the good behaviour bond is a fairly common disposition when dealing with first time offenders who have committed minor offences. For more information on what is a good behaviour bond, go here.
Release on adjournment with conviction (Section 72 of the Sentencing Act 1991)
This is a good behaviour bond but with a conviction. For more information on what is a good behaviour bond go here. For more information on the difference between a conviction and non-conviction go here. It is important to note that a non-conviction does not mean you avoid a criminal record on a finding of guilt.
Fine (Section 49 of the Sentencing Act 1991)
A fine can be imposed with or without conviction unless you have been charged with a commonwealth offence. All commonwealth offences dealt with by way of fine must attract a conviction. The surrounding facts and type of charge determines the maximum amount of the fine. Follow these links for more information about fines and conviction vs non-conviction.
Youth Justice Centre Order (Section 32 of the Sentencing Act)
Adult offenders that have not yet attained the age of 21 at the time of sentence can be sentenced to a Youth Justice Centre Order. There are a number of factors that the Court must consider prior to imposing such an order. For more information see Youth Justice Centre Orders.
Adult Gaol / Jail (Immediate Custodial Sentences)
Section 11 through to section 17 of the Sentencing Act 1991 deal with the mechanisms that relate to the imposition of an immediate term of imprisonment. Immediate gaol sentences must be with conviction.
Immediate gaol sentences can be;
→ imposed on their own if the period of incarceration is under 12 months. This is referred to as a “straight sentence”
→ in combination with a Community Corrections Order if under 12 months
→ with parole if over 12 months.
For more information see Immediate gaol sentences.