Custodial sentences can be imposed for serious offences in every state and territory. However, there are some differences in the laws between different jurisdictions in terms of how a custodial sentence may be served. While every state and territory has adult correctional facilities and youth detention centres, some other options for serving a custodial sentence such as a home detention order are only available in certain states. This page deals with imprisonment and custodial sentences across Australia.
Imprisonment in Victoria
In Victoria, a custodial sentence may be imposed with or without a non-parole period.
Suspended sentences have been abolished in Victoria; however, a court can order that a term of imprisonment be served as home detention.
Some offences in Victoria carry mandatory imprisonment, meaning that when an adult is found guilty, the court must impose a term of imprisonment.
Custodial sentences in New South Wales
A custodial sentence may be ordered to be wholly or partially suspended.
A court may order a term to be served at the offender’s home under a Home Detention Order.
Some offences in New South Wales carry mandatory imprisonment.
Imprisonment in Queensland
A term of less than one year may be ordered to be served in the community under an Intensive Corrections Order.
Queensland courts may also make an order that combines prison and a probation order.
Some criminal offences, such as murder and repeat child sex offences, carry mandatory imprisonment in Queensland.
Custodial sentences in the ACT
In the ACT, a person may be sentenced to imprisonment or detention. Under the Crimes (Sentencing) Act 2005, a custodial sentence in the ACT may be wholly or partly suspended.
If a term is for no more than two years, it may be served in the form of an Intensive Corrections Order.
In WA, a person may be sentenced to imprisonment or detention. Western Australia also has mandatory sentencing provisions that apply to many offence both for adults and for juveniles. This means that when a person is found guilty of certain offences, there is a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment or detention that the court must impose.
In Western Australia, under section 76 of the Sentencing Act 1995, a term of imprisonment of 60 months or less can be suspended for a period of up to two years.
Custodial sentences in South Australia
In South Australia, a person can be sentenced to imprisonment or detention with or without a non-parole period. Under the Sentencing Act 2017, a custodial sentence may be wholly or partly suspended. If the sentence is not suspended, the court must fix a non-parole period or review the existing non-parole period.
Some offences in South Australia carry a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.
In the Northern Territory, a person can be sentenced to imprisonment or detention. The sentence may be wholly or partly suspended and if it is not suspended, a non-parole period may be imposed. When an NT court orders a suspended term of imprisonment, it may order that the offender enter into a home detention order.
Some offence in the NT carry a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment when committed by an adult.
Sentences of imprisonment in the NT are governed by the Sentencing Act 1995.
Custodial sentences in Tasmania
In Tasmania, a person can be sentenced to imprisonment or detention. The sentence may be wholly or partly suspended under section 24 of the Sentencing Act 1997. A court that sentences a person in Tasmania may set a non-parole period or order that the person is not eligible for parole.
A person may be sentenced to a home detention order in Tasmania.
Some offences in Tasmania carry a mandatory term of imprisonment.
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