The importance of rehabilitation in sentencing

Monday, February 5, 2018

A common question clients ask the first time they speak to a criminal lawyer is “What can I do to help my sentence?”.

The answer to that question of course depends upon a number of things, including the nature of the charges and seriousness of the offence.

Generally speaking , if a client makes a concerted effort to undertake rehabilitation prior to sentencing, this will be viewed favourably and can in many instances mean the difference between having to serve time in an actual jail or remaining in the community.

Section 9 of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) provides the purposes for which a sentence may be imposed by a court on an offender. 

Whilst a sentence must:

  • punish a person to the extent that is just in the circumstances,
  • deter the offender and other community members from offending, and
  • make it clear that the community denounces such behaviour,

a sentence should also provide conditions to rehabilitate an offender.

Therefore, if a client is able to show demonstrated rehabilitation upon being sentenced, this will be viewed favourably by a court and can make all the difference.  As criminal lawyers, we always recommend our client to try to address the cause of their offending prior to being sentenced by a court.  Submissions can then be made by your lawyer at sentencing that a supervised order may not be necessary, or that it is within the community’s interest to have a rehabilitated person remain in the community as opposed to being sentenced to actual jail at the community’s expense.

Types of rehabilitation

The type of rehabilitation required will depend upon the type of offence:

a. Drugs and alcohol

The most common offence a criminal lawyer will encounter is the use of drugs and/or alcohol.  If a client has been suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol for a significant period of time, the addiction is difficult to address without the help of professionals.  The types of rehabilitation beneficial for matters where drugs or alcohol are involved can be:

  • attending your GP for a referral to a psychologist or counsellor who can assist in providing coping strategies to deal with addiction,
  • attending a drug or alcohol service provider at a local hospital or community centre, such as Drug Arm or ATODS (the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Service), or
  • attending a ‘live in’ or residential rehabilitation program, which provides detox, counselling and other services assisting with addiction.

If a person has been able to successfully complete any rehabilitation programme, a letter from that service outlining the client’s engagement and progress can significantly impact the range of sentences that a court is likely to consider.  Further, if a person is able to successfully cease drug use, clean urine tests can be obtained and provided to the court evidencing this fact.  These circumstances are likely to impact favourably on your sentence.

b. Domestic violence and other violent offending

Another type of offence that court’s see regularly is domestic violence and other violent or anger-related offences.  The types of rehabilitation beneficial for this type of matter can be:

  • attending your GP for a referral to a psychologist or counsellor who can assist with anger management problems,
  • attending relationship or domestic violence targeted counselling, if the offence relates to a domestic relationship, or
  • attending a parenting course if the offending relates to children.

In cases such as these, rehabilitation can vastly impact a client’s sentence and again mean the difference between jail and remaining in the community.

c. Drink, drug or dangerous driving

Another type of offence that court’s see regularly relates to traffic matters.  Traffic matters can range from drink or drug driving, to dangerous driving, to repeat careless or negligent driving.  If a client is at risk of losing their licence, it is always beneficial for the client to attend a traffic offender’s program or safe driver awareness program.  These programs are aimed at persons who have pending traffic charges before a court, and in some cases poor traffic history.  The purpose of these courses is to demonstrate the risks of dangerous or poor driving habits, and remind clients of the serious consequences of poor behaviour on the road.

For this reason, completing these courses can assist a client to obtain a lower disqualification, or can mean the difference between the court granting or refusing a restricted licence.

How we can help

It is always best you obtain legal advice from an experienced criminal lawyer, who can provide you with the best types of rehabilitation to undertake for your type of offending.  The sooner you get in touch with a criminal lawyer, the better the outcome can be.

Why choose us?

You will be talking to a real expert, local to you.  You will not be treated like a number, but as a real person, and a person who may be going through a difficult and stressful experience.  Get expert advice, not just what you want to hear, in a language you can understand, not legal jargon.

Office locations

Q&S’s expert criminal lawyers are available at any of Q&S’s seven office locations.

Brisbane CBD | Beenleigh | Caboolture | Cleveland | Gold Coast | Ipswich | Jimboomba

Get in touch

Submit an online enquiry below or call 1800 999 529.

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