22 Feb

What happens in a Magistrates Court Sentence?

A sentence is the final stage of a criminal proceeding where a court determines the penalty or punishment to be imposed on a person who has been found guilty of a criminal offence. In Queensland, most criminal cases are heard in the Magistrates Court. It is important to understand what happens at a Magistrates Court sentence.

When a person is found guilty of a criminal offence in the Magistrates Court, the matter is often adjourned to a later date for sentencing. At other times the matter may be listed for a sentence or lengthy plea. At the sentencing hearing, the Magistrate will hear submissions from the prosecution and defence on what penalty should be imposed. After hearing from both parties the Magistrate will decide on the appropriate sentence.

Pre-Sentence Reports

Before the sentencing hearing, the offender may be required to undergo a pre-sentence report. This provides the Magistrate with information about the offender’s personal circumstances, criminal history, and any other relevant factors that may impact the sentence. The report is prepared by a psychologist. It may include information from the offender’s family, employer, or other support services.

References, letters of apology and clean urine results are often provided to the Court to demonstrate rehabilitation. These are all extremely useful and should be considered. We have a guide to assist you draft a reference on our website.

Sentencing Factors

At the sentencing hearing, the Magistrate will consider a range of factors when deciding on an appropriate sentence, including the seriousness of the offence, the offender’s personal circumstances, and any mitigating or aggravating factors. Mitigating factors are factors that reduce the offender’s culpability, such as a plea of guilty, while aggravating factors increase the offender’s culpability, such as the use of violence.

The Magistrate will also consider any relevant legislation, such as the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld), which provides a range of sentencing options, including fines, community-based orders, probation, and imprisonment. The Magistrate may also impose conditions on the sentence, such as a requirement to undertake rehabilitation, participate in community service, or refrain from associating with certain people.

If the offender is sentenced to imprisonment, the Magistrate will consider a range of factors when deciding on the length of the sentence, including the nature and gravity of the offence, the offender’s criminal history, and any personal circumstances that may affect the sentence.

Can you appeal a Magistrates Court Sentence

It is important to note that the offender has the right to appeal the sentence if they believe that it is too severe or inappropriate. The appeal process involves making an application to the higher court, such as the District Court or Supreme Court, which will review the sentence and may decide to alter it if necessary.

A Magistrates Court sentence is a complex process that involves consideration of a range of factors and options. If you have been charged with a criminal offence and are due to appear before the Magistrates Court for sentencing, it is important to seek legal advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer who can guide you through the process and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.


This website contains general information about legal matters.  The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.  You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional legal services provider. This publication is for your information and interest only. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.

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