LAW4306 - Sentencing and sanctions - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Unit guides



  • Summer semester B 2017 (Day)


This course deals with the legal framework within which offenders are sentenced locally and nationally. It will examine sentencing principles applicable under state and federal law in Victoria. 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; plea negotiation, and the opportunity for public and victim input. Main sentencing measures and procedures currently utilised will be explored. The problems of sentencing special offender groups and special sanctions such as confiscation of the proceeds of crime will also be examined if time allows. The unit may cover:

  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 1B
  3. Courts exercising sentencing powers.
  4. The sentencing hearing - role of the trial judge; roles of prosecution and defence counsel; plea negotiation; 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 underpinnings: retribution deterrence, community protection, denunciation, rehabilitation, mitigation and mercy.
  8. Sentencing principles: nature of the crime; nature of the offender; response to the charges
  9. Main sanctions: fines; restitution and compensation; confiscation and disqualification; unsupervised release; community correction orders; custodial orders; parole.
  10. Special offender groups e.g. juveniles; sex offenders.
  11. 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 confiscation of proceeds of crime under state or federal law, or administrative sanctions such as infringement notices, or other post sentence sanctions such as detention and supervision orders, or orders made under the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 (Vic);
  2. appreciate the role that problem-oriented or solution-focused courts have in relation to the sentencing of drug dependent or mentally disordered persons, family violence offenders and Koorie offenders;
  3. understand some of the empirical and criminological dimensions of sentencing;
  4. have obtained an overview of different philosophical underpinnings of the sentencing systems.


30% written assignment of 1500 words AND an individual research paper of 3500 words 70%.

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. The unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)


LAW3300 or LAW3301 and LAW3302