Faculty of Law

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Law
OfferedNot offered in 2013


This course deals with the legal framework within which offenders are sentenced, locally, nationally, and internationally. It will examine sentencing principles applicable under state and federal law in Victoria as well as those developed overseas in relation to sentencing guidelines and sentencing commissions. The course will examine the sources of sentencing law; the distribution of sentencing authority between the legislature, judiciary and executive arms of government; the control of sentencing discretion; the role of counsel in the sentencing hearing; and the opportunity for public and victim input. Main sentencing measures and procedures (such as on-the-spot fines) being currently utilised will be explored. The problems of sentencing special offender groups, such as corporate offenders, and special sanctions such as forfeiture of the proceeds of crime, will also be examined if time allows. A typical allocation of topics would be:

  1. Introduction to the legislative, judicial and executive framework of sentencing authority in a federal system of government.
  2. Content of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) & Crimes Act 1914 (Cth), part .
  3. Courts exercising sentencing powers.
  4. The sentencing hearing - role of the trial judge; roles of prosecution and defence counsel; victim impact statements; the role of the Sentencing Advisory Council; role of the media and the community.
  5. Evidentiary rules and burden of proof at the sentencing hearing.
  6. Plea making mitigation and aggravation.
  7. Philosophical underpinning: retribution v. rehabilitation (treatment v. punishment), community protection, proportionality; mitigation and mercy.
  8. Main sanctions - fiscal; incapacitation; community-based; restorative justice models; conviction v. non-conviction orders; the significance of the offender's consent to sentence.
  9. Special offender groups e.g. corporations; juveniles; sex offenders; intellectually disabled.
  10. Controlling sentencing discretion - the various models.


Upon completing this unit, students should:

  1. possess an overview of the legal framework within which offenders against federal and state law in Victoria are sentenced or subjected to other measures such as civil action for forfeiture of proceeds of crime under state or federal law, or administrative sanctions such as infringement notices, or other post sentence sanctions such as control orders, or orders made under the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 (Vic);
  2. appreciate the role that specialist courts have in relation to the sentencing of children, young offenders, drug dependent persons, and Koorie offenders;
  3. recognise the non-judicial, as well as the judicial components of sentencing;
  4. have obtained an overview of different philosophical underpinnings of the sentencing systems, particularly the conflict between rehabilitation and retribution; and
  5. be aware of some of the overseas developments in sentencing, especially administrative and legislative efforts to limit the scope of judicial discretion in imposing sentence.


Examination: 70% (30 minutes reading and noting time plus two hours writing time) AND an individual research paper of 1500 words 30%.

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

Three 4 hour semi-intensive lecture/seminars each week over a period of 3 weeks.


LAW3300 or LAW3301 and LAW3302