It can be challenging to divide some of the points of law, especially when defining terms. Additionally, it is common for people to mix up terms and phrases that seem similar.
A typical example of such a mistake can be seen in the use of the terms punishment and sentencing.
- Punishment: The term punishment refers to a loss serving as retribution that is imposed upon a convicted offender via the judicial system. The loss can take various forms within the boundaries of possible punishments outlined in local, state, or federal guidelines.
- Sentence: A sentence is a penalty a judge orders based on numerous factors, including jury recommendations, minimum sentencing mandates, and the judge’s best evaluation of the evidence and circumstances surrounding the crime. It is common for the term sentence to be thought of as jail time.
However, a convicted offender’s sentence can include probation terms, fines, restitution, and community service.
Dee is convicted of stealing from her employer. The judge sentences her to six months of jail time, and she is ordered to pay restitution to her former employer. Dee’s punishment for her crime is the loss of freedom and money.
There are several sentences a Western Australia court can impose. These include,
1. Financial Penalty: You must pay a fine or make financial retribution to the wronged party. If you receive an order to pay a fine, you need to remember that failure to pay on time may result in jail time or a referral to a state collector with a wide jurisdiction and numerous legal actions they can take against you.
If you are not able to pay the fine, there are a few options you can try. These include,
- Requesting an instalment plan that allows you time to pay
- A Center pay instalment plan which works to help you keep up with what you owe by going through your Centrelink
- A fine option order where you can do community service instead of paying your fine
2. Community-Based Order: A community-based sentence is a mid-level order with rehabilitation as its chief goal. If you receive a community-based order, you must comply with the stipulations and meet with officials at pre-arranged times. A community corrections officer will discuss your life, and you may be required to give a urine sample.
You risk resentencing if you do not comply with the details of the order.
3. Intensive Supervision Programme Order: While the sentence of an intensive supervision programme is less severe than other options, it requires your cooperation and compliance. You may have requirements of unpaid service, visits to doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, or counsellors, and group therapy.
Failing to comply with the conditions of the programme or committing crimes can lead to resentencing.
4. Suspended Imprisonment Order: A suspended term is handed in both Magistrates and District Court jurisdiction. Courts issue suspended imprisonment sentences in cases where they believe you would have a better chance of rehabilitating in the community than in prison. The basis for this idea is that by continuing to live, work, and have meaningful relationships, offenders have a greater chance of successfully engaging with society in law-abiding ways.
If you commit a crime during this period, your imprisonment order will be enforced, and you will serve your prison sentence.
5. Immediate Imprisonment: The presiding magistrate or judge must consider an immediate term of imprisonment as the last resort. If the Court forms the view that general deterrence is the primary sentencing consideration and that the crime is too serious, then an immediate term of imprisonment may be the only option.
To sentence someone to immediate imprisonment, their crime must be justified by the seriousness of the offence or the need to protect the community. Because immediate imprisonment is the most severe sentence in Western Australia, it is seen as the last resort.
What Factors Govern My Sentence?
The court will look at several factors that will impact your sentence. These include,
- Your prior good character
- The circumstances surrounding your offence may have a significant impact on your sentencing.
- The aggravating factors
- The mitigating factors
- The seriousness of the offending acts
- Your ability to determine whether your actions were right or wrong
- Whether you display remorse for your actions. Showing a defiant attitude in court will only make your defence more difficult than if you appear humble and resolved to do the right thing
- Whether you are trying to make crucial changes to your lifestyle that would lead you away from committing the same or similar offences
- Whether you took part in counselling, if you had the opportunity, or if it was made available
- A victim Impact Statement describes the aftermath of your actions in the victim’s life. For example, if you engaged in drunk driving and caused a crash, a victim’s statement saying how much physical and mental suffering they endured, along with lost wages and other negative results, can influence your sentence
- Your assistance and cooperation with the police- while behaving belligerently with the police is not in your best interest, you also have the right to politely decline to answer questions beyond your name, address, and other personal identification information without having your legal representative present
- Any reports are written by experts for sentencing purposes. Statements such as these must be from professionals who can offer supporting facts that can influence decisions on your sentencing.
Regardless of the crime you are charged with, you deserve to be treated fairly during your trial and in the sentencing and punishment phases of your trial. Having excellent legal representation will ensure that you receive appropriate consideration during your trial. If you need to speak with a lawyer, feel free to contact WN Legal Services. Our legal experts will work hard to ensure your case has the best possible outcome.