Step 1 - Assess the seriousness of the offence
The first step in sentencing is an assessment of the nature and seriousness of the offence.
The seriousness of an offence is determined by two things: the culpability of the offender and the harm caused, or which might have been caused, by the offence. As either or both culpability and harm increase, so may the seriousness of the offence.
The assessment of seriousness is a key factor in deciding the appropriate type of sentence (for example, whether to impose a fine, a community payback order, or a custodial sentence). It is also important in deciding the level of sentence to be imposed (for example, the amount of any fine, the requirements to be included in a community payback order, or the length of a custodial sentence).
In assessing the seriousness of a particular offence, the court should also refer to any applicable sentencing guideline which lists any factors relevant to the consideration of culpability and harm.