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The section of an Act that creates an offence usually sets out the maximum penalty for the offence, which may be either a period of imprisonment or a fine, or both.

The maximum penalty is normally reserved for the worst type of conduct that could constitute the offence and the court can, and usually does impose lesser penalties than this maximum. The one exception is in the case of murder, where a sentence of life imprisonment is mandatory (that is, no other penalty can be imposed).

Some penalty summaries can be found in the Duty Solicitor Handbook.

Other penalties are found under the sections on specific offences in the chapter Criminal and Traffic Offences.

A court has the ability to sentence a defendant to a term of imprisonment in custody (i.e. in prison).

Alternative, community based orders can also serve as penalties. These include:

  • a sentence of imprisonment suspended on entering into a bond (good behaviour bond) suspended sentence;
  • a good behaviour bond (issued as a stand alone penalty, not part of a suspended sentence);
  • a sentence to be served in the community while subject to intensive correction;
  • a sentence to be served in the community while subject to home detention;
  • a community service order.

These penalties are in addition to the ability of the court (where appropriate) to:

  • issue a fine;
  • make a forfeiture order;
  • issue an intervention order;
  • issue a licence disqualification;
  • make an order for compensation;
  • make an order for restitution of property;
  • dismiss a charge; or
  • order that no conviction be recorded (with or without a penalty).

The powers of the sentencing court are explored further in this chapter.

Penalties  :  Last Revised: Thu Apr 19th 2018
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.