Council Releases Sentencing Snapshots for Five Major Drug Offences and Theft

Date of Publication
12 April 2022

The Council has released Sentencing Snapshots for five major drug offences and theft offences sentenced in the County and Supreme Courts of Victoria in the five years to 30 June 2021:

The new Snapshots present data on the type and length of sentences imposed for the principal offence (the most serious offence in a case). 

Each Snapshot also cites the case or cases that had the longest imprisonment sentence during the five years.

Sentencing Outcomes Over the Five Years

Three of the six offences (trafficking in a non-commercial quantity of drugs, cultivating a commercial quantity of narcotic plants and theft) had a relatively low number of cases sentenced in 2020-21 compared to previous years. The lower number of cases sentenced was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused delays in court proceedings during the 2020-21 financial year.

Court backlogs may have led to prioritisation of more serious cases and therefore higher imprisonment rates than the rates in previous years. The annual percentage of cases receiving imprisonment was highest (or equal highest) in 2020-21 for all except one of the six offences (cultivating a non-commercial quantity of narcotic plants).

Average prison sentences increased over the five years for two offences:

  • trafficking in a large commercial quantity of drugs (from 7 years in 2016-17 to 10 years and 2 months in 2020-21)
  • theft (from 1 year and 5 months in 2016-17 to 2 years and 1 month in 2020-21).

Standard Sentence Offence

Trafficking in a large commercial quantity of drugs attracts a standard sentence of 16 years. A standard sentence is a ‘numerical guidepost’ that courts consider when sentencing a standard sentence offence.

The average length of imprisonment for trafficking in a large commercial quantity of drugs was:

  • 10 years when the standard sentence applied
  • 8 years and 10 months overall.

The new Sentencing Snapshots are available for download from our website.