Sentencing Hearings


Get informed about sentencing hearings in Queensland

In Queensland, the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) sets out a range of sentencing guidelines, possible punishments and procedures relevant to sentencing hearings. For anybody facing a criminal charge, understanding the issues relevant to sentencing hearings and what influences outcomes is essential to avoiding unjust penalties and results.

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Sentencing Hearings

Anderson Legal defends individuals and businesses facing sentencing hearings and related issues in Queensland.

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Sentencing Hearings

Anderson Legal defends individuals and businesses facing sentencing hearings and related issues in Queensland.

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View our growing library of articles and webinars, which are accessible no matter the time of day or night.

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Anderson Legal provides a free, no-obligation consultation to understand whether this firm can assist you.

Sentencing Hearings in Queensland

Sentencing is an important and complex area of criminal law that has a significant impact on people.
This section deals with the following:
Criminal Defence Image

Sentencing Hearings in Queensland

Sentencing is an important and complex area of criminal law that has a significant impact on people.
This section deals with the following:
Criminal Defence Image

Pleading guilty

The decision to plead guilty to an offence carries with it a range of consequences, some of which may not be obvious. For that reason, people are generally cautioned not to plead guilty until they properly understand the police allegations and have obtained legal advice from a criminal defence lawyer.

In Australia, the law recognises a person may plead guilty for a variety of reasons. In a High Court case (Meissner v The Queen [1995] HCA 41) it was explained by Justice Dawson:

a person may plead guilty upon grounds which extend beyond the person’s belief in his guilt. He may do so for all manner of reasons: for example, to avoid worry, inconvenience or expense; to avoid publicity; to protect his family or friends; or in the hope of obtaining a more lenient sentence than he would if convicted after a plea of not guilty. The entry of a plea of guilty upon grounds such as these nevertheless constitutes an admission of all the elements of the offence…

As a consequence of the multiple reasons that may drive a person to plead guilty, overturning a guilty plea later is uncommon. For that reason, anybody intending to plead guilty ought to fully understand the consequences of pleading guilty, as seeking to change the plea at a later date may prove impossible.

Generally, a person who pleads guilty does so in an open court and is often sentenced immediately following the plea. Anybody intending to plead guilty ought to ensure they are properly prepared for a sentencing hearing to ensure they do not end up with a worse outcome or heavier penalty than may be warranted.

Sentencing hearing procedure

Sentencing hearings in Queensland

At a sentencing hearing, often the following occurs in Queensland:

  • The judicial officer (a judge or magistrate) reads the charge out to the defendant and they are asked to enter their plea. Generally, a person either pleads ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’, although there are other specific pleas a defendant may be required to enter in certain circumstances.
  • Upon a guilty plea, the prosecutor will:
    • inform the judicial officer if the defendant has a criminal history or traffic history and tender a copy of it to form part of the court record. In some circumstances, details of any previous offences may also be given to the judicial officer.
    • outline the agreed facts that constitute the offence that the defendant has pleaded guilty to, or at least the prosecution allegations.
    • may refer to any victim impact statements or other information that may be relevant to the sentencing court’s determination of the appropriate penalty.
    • may provide guidance to the judicial officer as to what the prosecution submits is the appropriate penalty to be imposed, which may involve reference to past comparable cases where similar penalties may have been imposed.
  • Following the prosecution concluding its submissions, a defence lawyer will:
    • raise any disputes about the prosecution version of events. A ‘contested sentence’ takes place where, although a person does not dispute they committed the offence, there remains a dispute about what actually occurred. For a contested sentence, section 132C of the Evidence Act 1977 (Qld) dictates how a sentencing judge or magistrate must determine an allegation of fact that is challenged.
    • give any explanations or reasons for why the offending took place.
    • outline any insight or remorse that may have been demonstrated.
    • detail the personal characteristics or background of the defendant that may mitigate the sentence.
    • support, where necessary, any submissions by evidence, such as expert reports and character references.
    • advance submissions relating to the appropriate penalty, which may include the impact particular penalties may have on the defendant, or the practicability of certain sentences.
  • A prosecutor may reply to the defence submissions or material. A reply is limited to new issues raised by the defence and is not an opportunity for the prosecutor to simply repeat earlier arguments or restate their case.
  • The sentencing judge or magistrate will then impose a penalty, often immediately following the issues raised by the prosecution and defence. In more complex cases, a proceeding may be stood down until later in the day or adjourned to another day to allow further time for the judicial officer to determine the appropriate penalty. In the event a case is adjourned, it is possible for a defendant who was on bail to be remanded in custody pending the sentence being decided.

If a defendant is sentenced to a term of imprisonment, such sentences commence immediately. As such, if a person is given a custodial sentence, they are generally taken immediately to a correctional centre in Queensland. Other penalties, such as fines or community service orders, may have a specified period for the person to comply with the order.

There are many issues that may arise before or during a trial that can impact how it proceeds. A criminal lawyer with expertise in criminal law and substantial experience running criminal trials can be crucial to a successful defence.

Types of sentencing orders in Queensland

In Queensland, the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) has a range of sentencing options available to courts following an adult pleading guilty to an offence, including:

  • Absolute discharge
  • Restitution and compensation
  • Recognisances (good behaviour bonds)
  • Non-contact orders
  • Banning orders
  • Fines
  • Probation orders
  • Community service orders
  • Intensive correction orders
  • Imprisonment – suspended sentences
  • Imprisonment – parole orders
  • Imprisonment – serious violent offences
  • Indefinite sentences
  • Control orders

Some orders require a conviction to be recorded, whereas others result in no conviction being recorded or allow the court discretion as to whether or not to record a conviction.

Understanding when particular penalties may apply, either alone or in combination, as well as the differing consequences for each type of order, is essential for anybody facing a criminal charge. As a law firm with a focus on criminal defence, Anderson Legal assists its clients to understand the range of penalties that may apply to anybody facing sentencing in Queensland.

How penalties are decided

In Queensland, section 9(1) of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) states:

9 Sentencing guidelines

(1) The only purposes for which sentences may be imposed on an offender are—

(a) to punish the offender to an extent or in a way that is just in all the circumstances; or

(b) to provide conditions in the court’s order that the court considers will help the offender to be rehabilitated; or

(c) to deter the offender or other persons from committing the same or a similar offence; or

(d) to make it clear that the community, acting through the court, denounces the sort of conduct in which the offender was involved; or

(e) to protect the Queensland community from the offender; or

(f) a combination of 2 or more of the purposes mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (e).

Courts will assess a range of factors specific to the offence and the offender. When a person faces a sentencing hearing, personal factors can heavily influence the ultimate outcome. Such factors include:

  • good character (character references)
  • an absence of prior convictions
  • good prospects of rehabilitation
  • insight and remorse
  • age, such as youth or old age
  • physical illnesses or impairments
  • mental health issues
  • childhood or social disadvantage
  • traumatic life experiences

Section 9 of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) specifically sets out a range of these factors that a sentencing court must consider. Among the considerations is a catch-all provision that states a court must consider “any other relevant circumstance”. The weight a court may give to personal factors will vary from case to case. For this reason, it is important for people facing a sentencing hearing to understand the way their personal circumstances and background may aggravate or mitigate the penalty that may be imposed for an offence.

There is a general principle that imprisonment should be imposed as a last resort and that a sentence that allows the offender to stay in the community is preferable. However, there are specific offences for which that principle does not apply. They include homicide offences, sexual offences in relation to children under 16, and violent offences.

Although based in Brisbane, Anderson Legal is frequently engaged to assist people dealing with criminal allegations across Queensland. If you are facing sentencing and need advice and representation, Anderson Legal provides comprehensive criminal defence services to its clients. This includes:

  • providing advice relating to allegations made or documents served on our clients;
  • identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the case alleged against our clients;
  • advising clients on options relating to obtaining evidence, including expert evidence;
  • communicating on behalf of its clients with police, courts, and others;
  • resolving, where appropriate, criminal charges through negotiation;
  • applying to the courts for orders and rulings, including to exclude police evidence;
  • representing clients in trials and sentences before all courts; and,
  • filing and litigating appeals against wrongful convictions and unjust sentences.

This firm places an emphasis on providing clear guidance so that our clients are placed in a real position to make informed decisions about their options and their preferred path forward. Anderson Legal provides clear, transparent disclosure of its legal costs at every stage.

  • Andrew Anderson, Legal Director, is an experienced lawyer who has been independently described by the Courier Mail as “one of the best legal minds” and a “leading corporate and white-collar crime lawyer” (16 December 2021).
  • Having successfully represented litigants in the High Court of Australia, Queensland Court of Appeal, Royal Commissions, and multiple other courts dealing with trials and other hearings, Andrew Anderson has a demonstrated record of success in complex and difficult cases.
  • Prior to operating a law firm, Andrew Anderson worked as a Principal Crown Prosecutor in Queensland and barrister in private practice at 8 Petrie Terrace Chambers in Brisbane. His depth of courtroom advocacy experience ranges from straightforward cases right through to complex homicide trials and appeals.
  • Anderson Legal is a law firm that is dedicated to the best ideals of the legal profession. Seeking to exceed client expectations and fighting for justice is an everyday pursuit.

Limitations on general information

Each legal issue is unique. The information on this page and website cannot – and is not meant to – substitute legal consultation. It is designed to outline information of a general nature if you want to learn more about sentencing hearings and procedures, particularly as it relates to anybody facing sentencing in Queensland. Anybody dealing with a criminal prosecution ought to obtain expert legal advice and guidance as soon as possible.

No content accessible on the website is created to provide specific legal answers or advice. It is designed to provide general information about legal matters and related concepts. It should not be used as, or in substitute of, your own legal advice or other advice as appropriate.

To the extent allowed by law, no warranty, condition, or guarantee is provided in relation to the accuracy or reliability of any information contained on this site. Content may be changed from time to time without notice.

If you face an investigation or charge and need advice and representation, contact Anderson Legal. This firm provides expert advice and representation for people needing assistance to defend themselves against unjust outcomes.

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Our clients make our practice. They are the ones we worry about each day, and to whom we owe a great obligation.

Our clients often have sought out Anderson Legal because they have been told something about expertise and experience. They put their faith and trust in the work of this firm. Professional reputation follows reality and not the other way around. Andrew Anderson, Legal Director, offers our clients a proven track record of success in complex and difficult cases across all court levels, including multiple appeals before the High Court of Australia.

Cost Comparisons

Comparing lawyers is not just a question of price, but value. Backed by the experience of successful courtroom advocacy across Australia, this firm offers significant value to its clients beyond price.
It is notoriously difficult to compare lawyers. Past courtroom experience and outcomes achieved do provide some basis for comparison. Andrew Anderson has an enviable record of success in contested hearings, trials and appeals.

This firm is committed to providing premium legal services at competitive rates but the price is only one measure of value. When you face a legal issue, particularly a complex one, there are other issues to consider.

As a lawyer who has achieved significant outcomes in a variety of contexts – as a Principal Crown Prosecutor, as a barrister, and as a law firm principal – Andrew Anderson brings a different level of experience to his advice and representation as compared to most solicitors. While he routinely works with leading Queens Counsel and other specialist barristers in complex cases, his significant experience in litigating and resolving disputes in cases throughout Australia means his clients have genuine expertise available from the start.

This firm may use several fee options, either exclusively or at various stages. The purpose is to make legal fees predictable, understandable, and transparent. Options include ‘fixed fee’ agreements, ‘capped’ legal costs, and agreements where the costs are calculated on a ‘pay as you go’ basis.

Entering into costs agreements that are understandable, and transparent allows this firm to remain focused on the outcomes our clients seek.

Our Referrals

If, unfortunately, we cannot provide you advice or representation, we will probably know who can.

The areas of law this practice handles are deliberately narrow and deep. Our deep focus on select areas of law allows this firm to handle some of the most complex and challenging cases that come before the courts.

It is not uncommon for this firm to receive enquiries we know will be better handled by others. In the interests of maintaining the highest standards, there are also occasions when cases we would otherwise welcome are declined to focus on existing clients’ needs. In such instances, we will try to identify who may be in a position to assist you.