A sentence of Imprisonment is a penalty that requires you to remain inside a correctional centre (jail) on a full time basis. A sentence of imprisonment is a last resort, but does not mean that you need to have the benefit of all other sentencing options first.


Section 5 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 is an important legislative provision regarding imprisonment. Section 5 states:

  • A court must not sentence an offender to imprisonment unless it is satisfied, having considered all possible alternatives, that no penalty other than imprisonment is appropriate.
  • A court that sentences an offender to imprisonment for 6 months or less must indicate to the offender, and make a record of, its reasons for doing so, including:
    • its reasons for deciding that no penalty other than imprisonment is appropriate, and
    • its reasons for deciding not to make an order allowing the offender to participate in an intervention program or other program for treatment or rehabilitation (if the offender has not previously participated in such a program in respect of the offence for which the court is sentencing the offender).

Is Imprisonment a Conviction and Will I have a Criminal Record?

If you are sentenced to period of imprisonment, then you have been convicted of the offence, and it will appear on your criminal record.

What is a Non-Parole Period?

The Court may set a non-parole period for a sentence if the total length of the sentence is more than 6 months. The non-parole period is the minimum period you will spend in full time custody before being possibly released on parole.

Usually, there is a ratio of two thirds of the sentence in custody, and one third on parole, unless the court makes a finding of special circumstances. A finding of special circumstances allows that ratio to be varied, so that you spend less time in full time custody, and longer on parole.

What Might Constitute Special Circumstances?

The following factors might be a reason a court decides to find special circumstances:

  • Rehabilitation;
  • Drug or alcohol addictions;
  • First custodial sentence;
  • Ill health, disability or mental illness; and
  • Youth, or advanced age


If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.


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