The Sentencing Advisory Council has today released a report on current sentencing practices for firearms offences in Victoria.
The report examines trends in the prevalence of firearms offences in Victoria and considers sentencing outcomes for 132 firearms offences defined in Victorian law. The offences carry maximum penalties ranging from a fine (up to 10 penalty units) to 17 years’ imprisonment.
The report finds that growing numbers of firearms offences are being sentenced in Victorian courts, and the courts’ are increasingly using imprisonment to sentence these offences.
In sentencing firearms offences that carried a maximum penalty of imprisonment:
- 84% of the charges sentenced in the higher courts resulted in imprisonment
- fines were the most common sentencing outcome (26% of all charges sentenced) in the Magistrates’ Court
- a youth justice centre order was the most common sentence in the Children’s Court in 2016-17 (35% of all charges).
However, the rate of fines decreased in the Magistrates’ Court, from 31% in 2012–13 to 20% in 2016–17. At the same time, both imprisonment and community correction orders became more common, accounting for 59% of all charges sentenced in the Magistrates’ Court in 2016–17.
The report also examined the characteristics of firearms offenders sentenced in the higher courts, finding that:
- 83% had a prior history of offending
- 40% had drug priors
- 34% were on an order, such as bail or a community correction order, at the time of the firearms offence
- 81% had substance abuse issues (alcohol and/or other drugs)
- 65% were identified as methylamphetamine users.
You can download the full report, Firearms Offences: Current Sentencing Practices, from our website.