Courts and Tribunals Tasmania

Magistrates Court

Magistrates Court - Case Scenario 1

Case Scenario Magistrates Court


On 1 July 2002, the Defendant (Darren SMITH) is at a well-known Launceston nightclub with his girlfriend (Tracey JONES). She is 3 months pregnant. They have been living together for 12 months in a house they are buying near Hadspen.

The Defendant has consumed beer for about the two hours they have been at the night club. His girlfriend drove them to the nightclub and intends to drive them home. A young male person pays some attention to his girlfriend and the Defendant and the male have a verbal argument. This upsets his girlfriend and then she and the Defendant argue. She leaves to drive home.

The Defendant has some more alcohol. He is worried about his girlfriend and decides to walk home.

They live about 10 kilometres from Launceston. It is a cold night. He becomes increasingly worried about his girlfriend and sees an unlocked car in the street. Without thinking he gets in and starts the car. He commences to drive home.

He decides to stay away from the main highway and drives through Prospect. He does not know the area well and on the bend past the Launceston Casino turn-off he takes the corner too wide and is pulled over by a Police car coming the other way.

The Defendant is breathalysed and returns a reading of .16 percent. He is charged with Motor vehicle stealing, and exceeding .05.


He has appeared in the Youth court for disorderly conduct 4 years ago (dealt with by adjournment with undertaking of good behaviour for 2 years, without conviction).


The Defendant is 20 years of age. His father was an alcoholic who left home when the Defendant was 9. His mother brought him up. He has 3 younger siblings who live at home with his mother.

He was unemployed until 6 months ago when he secured an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic. His job requires a licence. He is described by his employer as initially shy but now settling down well into his job and he has a bright future. He provides financial help for his mother and siblings.

He is extremely remorseful.

He and his girlfriend are in a stable relationship and looking forward to the birth of their child. She is

surprised at his behaviour and says he normally does not drink let alone drink and drive.

He would like to apply for a restricted licence if he is disqualified from driving.


Prevalence of car theft - different offences of (a) stealing, and (b) motor vehicle stealing

Prevalence of drink driving

Penalty provisions of Road Safety ( Alcohol and Drugs) Act

Restricted Licences - eligibility

Rehabilitation of Offenders

Court Floor Plan

Court Floor Plan - Magistrates

Bench Magistrate

Bench Magistrate

This is where the Magistrate sits - or there could be a Justice of the Peace who has been appointed to sit and been authorised to sit in as a bench justice. In certain courts we have two Justices of the Peace sitting and in other courts there may be just one sitting on their own. A lot of people ask the reason why a judicial officer’s bench may be raised above the normal platform or floor level. As well as allowing the Magistrate to see and be seen by all parts of the courtroom, historically the elevation of the bench has been about showing dignity and authority towards that bench.

Court Clerk

Court Cleark

The Court Clerk has responsibility to make sure the charges are read and pleas are taken, record the outcomes of the particular matter that’s before the courts and ensure that the tape recording equipment is working, as well as generally run the flow of the court on any given day.

Witness Box

Witness Box

The witness box is raised - though not as much as the bench - and the purpose for that is so that all people in the courtroom can hear and see what’s happening from that point. So while that person is giving evidence, everyone in the courtroom can focus on that particular area and not be denied access to what’s going on.

Defence Counsel

Defence Counsel

The Defence Counsel Sits at the bar table, traditionally on the right of the Magistrate.

Dock Defendant

Dock Defendant

The secure dock is where defendants sit if they are in custody. They will come here to have their charges read and give their plea. If they are not in custody they sit in the defendant area between the bar table and the public seating..

Police Prosecutor

Police Prosecutor

The prosecutor sits at the bar table, traditionally on the Magistrate’s left.

Media Press Seating

Media Press Seating

This is where the media sits and make their notes for reporting purposes.

Magistrates group worksheet

Magistrates group worksheet

1 What offences have been committed?

see complaint

2 What is the penalty range for each offence?

See relevant legislation

3 If disqualified from driving, is the Defendant eligible for a restricted licence?

see eligbility requirements

4 what should the sentence be?

Part 1 for discussion within your group

A factors to take into account

  • Issues listed in scenario
  • Circumstances of the crime
  • Victim impact
  • Personal Circumstances of the Defendant
  • Character of the Defendant
  • Remorse (if any) shown by Defendant
  • Financial Circumstances of the Defendant (relevant to capacity to pay fine)
  • Prior convictions

B Sentencing options

  • Imprisonment
  • Suspended sentence – wholly or partly
  • Community service order up to 240 hours
  • Probation order – can add special conditions
  • Fine
  • Adjourn for up to 5 years & release on undertaking to be of good behaviour with conditions
  • Record a conviction and discharge offender
  • Dismiss charge

Part 2 for presentation

Group Color:

A sentencing decision (only write final decision on paper)

  • *Imprisonment for ...........................months/ years
  • Wholly / partly suspended for .........months/ years
  • Community service order for ............hours
  • Driving disqualification for.................months/ years
  • Probation order for ..........................months/ years

Specify any speical conditions

Fine for $.............. at the rate of $.............per fortnight

Adjourn for .............. months & release on undertaking to be of good behaviour with conditions –

  • Discharge offender
  • Dismiss charge

B why (3 Main reasons)

C. *Non-Parole Period (only relevant to imprisonment)

Yes for ....................months/years




CHARGE 1 Motor Vehicle Stealing

Breach of Section 37B(1) Police Offences Act 1935


You are charged with on 1 July 2002 at Prospect in Tasmania, driving a motor vehicle, namely a blue 1980 Holden Commodore sedan, reg no. CO 5132 the property of John BLACK without the consent of that person or some person in

lawful charge of the vehicle and having authority to give that consent.

CHARGE 2 Drive a motor vehicle while exceeding the prescribed alcohol limit

Breach of Section 6(1) of the Road Safety (Alcohol & Drugs) Act 1970


You are charged with driving a motor vehicle on 1 July 2002 on Westbury Road, a public street at Prospect in Tasmania, whilst alcohol was present in your blood in a concentration greater than the prescribed concentration of 0.05 of a gram of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, namely .16 grams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.




Police Offences Act 1935


37B.(1) Subject to subsection (2), a person who drives or uses a motor vehicle without

the consent of the owner or registered operator of the vehicle or of some person who

is lawfully in charge of the vehicle and has authority to give that consent is guilty of the

offence of motor vehicle stealing.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to or in relation to the driving or use of a

motor vehicle by a police officer or an authorized officer acting in the execution

of his duty.


37E. A person who is convicted of an offence under section 37B or section 37C is

liable to a penalty not exceeding 50 penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not

exceeding 3 years.

[i.e. Up to $5000 fine or 3 years imprisonment]


Road Safety (Alcohol and Drugs) Act 1970


6.(1) Any person who drives a motor vehicle while alcohol is present in his blood in

a concentration greater than the prescribed concentration is guilty of an offence.



(3) Subject to subsection (5), a court that convicts a person of an offence specified in

column 1 of the Table –

(a) must –

(i) impose a fine of an amount not less than the minimum amount shown in the

Table and not more than the maximum amount shown in the Table; or

(ii) impose a term of imprisonment for a term not exceeding the term shown in the

Table; or

(iii) impose both that fine and that term of imprisonment; and

(b) must, in addition, disqualify the person from driving for a period not less than the

minimum period shown in the Table and not more than the maximum period shown

in the Table.

(5) Notwithstanding subsection (3), if a person who is convicted of an offence referred

to in column 1 of the Table satisfies the court which convicted the person that there are

special circumstances why the minimum fine specified in the Table or the minimum

period of disqualification specified in the Table should not be imposed, the court may

impose a lesser fine or a lesser period of disqualification.



TABLE Topic: Crime - Drink Driving Pernalties

Legislation: s.17 Road Safety (Alcohol and Drugs) Act 1970


Sect. 6(1) 0.05 or more but less than 0.1

Min. 2 penalty units ($200)

Max. 10 penalty units ($1,000)

Min. 3 months

Max. 12 months

3 months

0.1 or more but less than 0.15

Min. 4 penalty units ($400)

Max. 20 Penalty units (2,000)

Min. 6 months

Max. 18 months

6 months

0.15 or more

Min. 5 penalty units $500)

Max. 30 penalty units (3,000)

Min. 12 months

Max. 36 months

12 months

Restricted Licences

Restricted Licence

Grounds For Granting a Restricted Licence

Legislation: Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999 ('the VTA')

s.18 of the VTA provides that in certain circumstances, the court may grant a "restricted" (or "hardship") licence where a driver has been disqualified from driving.

s.18(5) of the VTA provides the court may only grant a restricted licence if satisfied that:

  • the loss of the person's licence will impose or is imposing severe and unusual hardship on that person or their dependants;
  • a restricted licence should be granted for the purpose of mitigating or alleviating that hardship; and
  • the granting of a restricted licence would not be contrary to the public interest.

Who is Excluded From Applying?

Legislation:Road Safety (Alcohol & Drugs) Act 1970 ('the RSA'); Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999 ('the VTA')

s.19(1A) of the RSA provides that restricted licences cannot be granted to a person who has been convicted of an offence under that Act if:

  • the offence was committed during any period of disqualification or within 3 years after the end of any period of disqualification;
  • the person was convicted of exceed 0.05 and their reading was 0.15 or more;
  • the person was convicted of driving under the influence;
  • the person objected to the analysis of a blood or urine sample;
  • the person was the holder of a learner's licence or a provisional licence;
  • at the time of the offence the person was not authorised under an Australian driver licence to drive the vehicle in respect of which the offence was committed or cannot satisfy the court that he or she would, but for an unintentional failure to comply with an administrative requirement, would have been authorised to drive that vehicle at that time;
  • the person was driving a prescribed vehicle at the time of the offence;
  • the person failed to comply with a requirement to submit to a breath analysis or the taking of a blood sample.

s.18(2) of the VTA also provides that the following persons are not entitled to apply for a restricted licence:

  • a person whose licence is, or is liable to be, suspended due to an accumulation of demerit points and who has, or had the option of entering into an undertaking to be of good behaviour under the demerits point scheme, but who did not or does not propose to take up that option; or
  • a person who is subject or liable to a period of ineligibility to hold a driver licence due to an accumulation of demerit points.

The Magistrates Decision

The Magistrate's Decision

Stand up there please Mr Smith.
I take in to account the fact that you have pleaded guilty. You are a young person without any relevant history. You have significant family responsibilities and you have shown a responsible attitude to those particular pressures in the past. I take the view that this was aberrant and out of character behaviour for you.

You face two charges arising out of literally the same act of driving. I am obliged to post at least minimum penalties in relation to the charge, and I do that on the charge of exceeding the prescribed alcohol limit. The reading is high but it is just in to the range of blood alcohol concentrations, which attract a minimum penalty of $500 and twelve months. That’s a significant penalty for a man of your age.

I turn to the motor vehicle stealing charge. You have a great future as a motor mechanic: that future will not be enhanced by convictions of motor vehicle stealing. I take into account on this particular charge that the vehicle was undamaged, the vehicle I assume has been returned to the owner undamaged. Motor vehicle stealing is a very prevalent offence, it goes on a lot and there would be members of the community that would, I think, argue quite strongly for a separate and distinct penalty for this particular offence.

Taking into account your age, your history, your lack of prior convictions, I am going to adjourn that particular account without conviction for twelve months on condition that you enter into an undertaking to be of good behaviour and commit no similar offence during that time; and you will appear before the court if you are called upon during that time. I have taken that view because I think that your future as a motor mechanic would not be enhanced by a conviction for motor vehicle stealing and I think in relation to your situation the fact that your employer was prepared to speak so highly of you was a significant factor.

I will allow you six months to pay the fine and court costs.

Alright, stand down.

Thankyou and credits

Thankyou and Credits

You be the Judge - Senetencing Law in Tasmania web site and accompanying video were produced by Roar Film on behalf of the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania with funding from the Law Foundation of Tasmania.

The Sentencing Workshop is a joint initiative of:

  • Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania;
  • Crime Prevention and Community Safety Council;
  • Neighbourhood Watch Tasmania; and
  • Department of Justice and Industrial Relations

Special thanks to:
Hon Justice Peter Underwood
Chief Magistrate Arnold Shott
Deputy Chief Magistrate Michael Hill
Constable Jayson Taws
Evan Hughes
Lang Goodsell
Peter Sherriff
Dale Chen

Sentencing Workshop team:
Sandra Lovell
Anne Askford
Wendy Heatley
Eve Murray
Jim Connolly
Inspector Craig Waterhouse
Ian Ritchard



The information contained on The Sentencing Law in Tasmania website is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem you should talk to a lawyer before making a decision about what to do. The information on this website is written for people resident in, or affected by, the laws of Tasmania, Australia only.



This site is designed to work as part of a staged workshop together with the video You be the Judge: Sentencing Law in Tasmania. On the video you'll find mock case scenarios based on two real examples of cases and sentences in the Magistrates Court and Supreme Court of Tasmania. People's names and other details have been changed to protect privacy.
Sentencing is a discretionary exercise. This website presents the information needed to analyse the two pleas in mitigation presented in the video and make your own determination on the sentence that each defendant should receive, before hearing the sentences as determined on the day of the workshop by a real Magistrate and Judge.

Each main section of this web site - General Sentencing Principles, Magistrates Court and Supreme Court - has the option to download a PDF document which brings together the papers and worksheets used in the workshop.

If you or your school / community organisation would like to borrow a video at no cost or have any queries about using this website and/or the video please contact:

Telephone Legal Advice Service
Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania
Ph. 1300 366 611 (local call cost within Tasmania)
9am-5pm Mon-Fri