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Sentencing for Multiple Offences: How Does This Work in Queensland?

Offenders who are convicted of more than one offence will be sentenced separately for each of these offences.

It is not uncommon for offenders to find themselves in court facing multiple charges.

If you have been charged with multiple offences, it is important to understand what may happen if you are convicted.

We share how sentencing for multiple offences works in the Queensland courts, and answer some of the most frequently asked questions.


How is Sentencing Determined?

Sentencing is the process of the courts determining an appropriate penalty for a person who has committed an offence.

By law, the courts must take into account a range of factors such as:

  • the maximum penalty for the offence
  • the nature and circumstances of the offence and its seriousness, including any harm caused to a victim
  • the extent to which the offender is to blame for the offence;
  • the character, age, intellectual capacity and any mitigating factors in relation to the offender
  • sentences imposed for similar cases committed in similar circumstances.


How Are Offenders Sentenced For Multiple Offences?

Offenders who are convicted of more than one offence will be sentenced separately for each of these offences. The court may order that these are served as concurrent sentences, or cumulative sentences.


What are Concurrent Sentences?

Concurrent sentences are sentences that are required to be served simultaneously. This is done so there are no backed-up sentences still to serve. This is often done where there are offences of varying degrees that have been committed. For example, if an offender has been sentenced to 18 months for the most serious offence, and sentenced to 3 months for a second offence, the offender may only be required to serve 18 months. This is also known as a head sentence and is when the courts decide that the length of time the offender serves will be the length of the longest sentence imposed.

This is the most common way sentencing for multiple offences is dealt with in Qld (s 155 Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) (Penalties and Sentences Act)).


What is a Cumulative Sentence?

Cumulative sentences are when an offender is required to serve one sentence after another. If the offender has been sentenced to serve 18 months in prison and has also been sentenced to serve 3 months in prison cumulatively, the total sentence will be 21 months.

The Queensland Law Handbook states that cumulative sentences “must be ordered when the offender has committed an offence listed in sch 1 of the Penalties and Sentences Act of serious violent offences, and that offence was committed while serving a term of imprisonment, on parole, on leave of absence from prison or at large after escaping from custody (s 156A Penalties and Sentences Act).”


Need Help Understanding Sentencing For Multiple Offences?

At Guest Lawyers, our expert lawyers can help you to understand more about sentencing for multiple offences, as well as attending Court and facing charges. As one of the leading criminal law firms in Brisbane, we will guide you through the legal process and ensure the best possible outcome is achieved.

If you are in the process of being charged with an alleged offence or multiple offences, or are about to go into the police station for questioning, please get in touch with us, either via email or phone on (07) 3236 0266.