Criminal Law Sentencing: Victoria

For people found guilty of crimes in Victoria, the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) defines a variety of sentencing orders.

Sentences for Adults

The main sentence types available for adults in Victoria are:

  • Imprisonment

  • Drug treatment order

A drug treatment order (DTO) combines prison terms with drug treatment, but the prison sentences is suspended. The court sentences the criminal to up to two years in prison, but the punishment is deferred while the offender is treated and monitored.

  • Community correction order

The community correction order (CCO) is a type of sentence that allows an offender to serve his or her sentence in the community. A community correction order can be imposed instead of or in addition to jail or a fine by a court.

A community correction order can be up to five years in length in the higher courts and in the Magistrates’ Court can be two years for one offence, four years for two offences and five years for three or more offences

  • Fine

Penalty units are used to measure the maximum amount of a fine. A punishment unit is a monetary sum determined annually by parliament. The value of a penalty unit has been fixed at $181.74 from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.

  • Adjourned undertaking

The court may impose an adjourned undertaking if a charge is proven. This permits a person to be released into the community for up to five years without supervision. Failure to adhere to the undertaking though can enliven all previous sentencing outcomes.

  • Dismissal or Discharge

Dismissal is where a proved charge may be dismissed by the court without a conviction or punishment being imposed.

Discharge is where the court may record a conviction but not impose any further penalty if a charge is proven.

  • Compensation or Costs

Can become available after lengthy prosecution culminating in a complete finding of non-guilt or in rare cases severe error or procedural unfairness on the part of the prosecuting party.

  • Diversion Order

A diversion programme is a means to deal with your situation outside of the court system and avoid a criminal record.

You will be placed on a diversion plan if the Magistrate determines that you are eligible for diversion. During this period, you must adhere to specific guidelines. You may be required to write a letter of apology to the victim, seek counselling (anger management, drug or alcohol treatment), complete an education course (defensive driving, drug awareness programme), make a contribution or volunteer in the community.

The police will withdraw the charges and there will be no finding of guilt if you fulfil the terms of your diversion plan. That indicates you have never been convicted of a crime.

Generally, the length of a diversion strategy is a year. Notably, a diversion will only be considered in conjunction with a plea of guilty.


Sentences for Youth

In Victoria, there are a variety of alternatives for sentencing children and young people aged 10 to 21, including:

  • Youth Justice Centre Order or Youth Residential Centre Order

  • Youth Control Order

  • Youth Attendance Order

  • Youth Supervision Order

  • Probation Order

  • Fine

  • Good Behaviour Bond

  • Dismissal and Undertaking.

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