Possible outcomes for criminal offences

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Possible outcomes for criminal offences

The maximum penalty that you can get if you are found guilty of a criminal offence is set out in laws that have been made by parliament. The magistrate will usually give you some kind of penalty, depending on the kind of offence and on your circumstances.


A dismissal is if the magistrate finds you guilty but decides that they will not record a conviction against you.


A discharge is if the magistrate finds you guilty and decides to record a conviction but decides not to give you any other penalty.

Adjourned undertaking

An adjourned undertaking is if the magistrate finds you guilty but releases you into the community. You must promise not to commit any more offences. The magistrate may also add conditions to this order such as making you promise to get alcohol treatment or to participate in an anger management course. The court may or may not give you a conviction.


Many criminal offences are punishable by fine. The amount you have to pay will depend on what you are found guilty of. Let the magistrate know if you might have trouble paying the fine. There are options. You can ask the magistrate to:

  • make a plan for you to pay bit by bit
  • give you community work instead of the fine.

If you do not pay, the court can issue a warrant for your arrest. See Fines and infringements.

Diversion programs

Diversion programs are a way to deal with your matter out of the court system and to avoid a criminal record. It is normally for less serious cases. You must agree to certain conditions as part of a diversion plan.

Community corrections orders

Community corrections orders let you serve your sentence in the community. These court orders have one or more conditions attached. The conditions depend on your particular needs, your circumstances and the offence that you are found guilty of. Conditions may include supervision, unpaid community work, treatment and rehabilitation, bans on going to particular areas or on licensed place or curfews.


If you are found guilty of a serious offence, or if you have a lot of prior convictions, you may have to serve time in prison. Some jail terms can be suspended (meaning you don’t serve the jail time) in limited situations.

Criminal records

If you have been found guilty of an offence, it will be included in a police record of your criminal history, also known as a criminal record. You may also get a criminal driving record from VicRoads for traffic offences.

Licence cancellation or suspension

The magistrate may cancel or suspend your driver licence or disqualify you from driving for any offence. If the magistrate decides that you were affected by alcohol and that this contributed to the offence, you will also need to go to court to get your licence back.

You may need to have an alcohol interlock device fitted to your vehicle before you are allowed to drive again. See alcohol interlocks.


You may have to pay compensation to someone who has suffered physical or emotional injury, or financial loss because of your crime.

If the police lost time or if they had to pay for things because you hindered them, they can ask for you to pay for lost time or any costs.

Get help

Find out how you can get help with going to court for a criminal offence.

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