Last updated 27 February 2017

The Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) (Penalties and Sentences Act) also lists factors which the court must consider when deciding on an appropriate sentence, including (s 9):

  • the maximum penalty prescribed for that offence
  • the nature and seriousness of the harm done
  • the previous convictions of the offender
  • the offender’s age, character and intellectual capacity
  • the prevalence of the offence
  • any other relevant circumstances.

If the offence involved violence, the sentencing court will carefully consider the risk of physical harm to any members of the community if a custodial sentence were not imposed, and may be more likely to consider a prison term (s 9(3) Penalties and Sentences Act). In sentencing an offender for an offence of a sexual nature committed in relation to a child under 16 years, the court must order that the offender serve a term of imprisonment, unless there are exceptional circumstances (s 9(4) Penalties and Sentences Act).

The Penalties and Sentences Act requires the sentencing court to treat each previous conviction as an aggravating factor if it is reasonable to do so (s 9(10)). Whether it is reasonable to do so may depend upon how much time has elapsed between each conviction and whether similar offences were involved. However, this should not result in a sentence that is disproportionate to the seriousness of the current offence.

Section 9(10A) of the Penalties and Sentences Act also requires the courts to treat the fact that the offence is a domestic violence offence as an aggravating factor when determining the appropriate sentence for the offender, unless exceptional circumstances of the case exist.

The age of the offender is a relevant consideration for the court to take into account in sentencing. Youthful offenders will often be given sentences that allow them the opportunity for rehabilitation (see R v Lovell [1999] 2 Qd R 79). In some cases, the court may consider that an elderly person (perhaps with disabilities) would suffer more from a prison sentence, and this may affect the length of any prison term imposed.

The courts must also take into account whether the offender has pleaded guilty (s 13 Penalties and Sentences Act) or has cooperated with law enforcement agencies (s 13A Penalties and Sentences Act). Additionally, the court, if it convicts an offender of a personal offence (i.e. an offence committed against a person), may also make a non-contact order that the offender not contact the victim or an associate, or that the offender not go to a stated place for a stated period of time (pt 3A Penalties and Sentences Act).