What Prison Sentences Mean and How They are Worked Out

If you are found guilty of a crime, your sentence will depend on a number of factors, including the type, seriousness and circumstances of the crime.

When deciding on a sentence, the judge or magistrate will consider things like:

  • your age
  • the seriousness of the crime
  • if you have a criminal record
  • if you pleaded guilty or not guilty

Your sentence might depend on any ‘aggravating’ or ‘mitigating’ circumstances.

An aggravating circumstance is something that makes a crime more serious, such as burgling someone’s house while they are asleep in bed.

A mitigating circumstance is something that may reduce your sentence, such as having problems in your personal life that have affected your behaviour.