Gross Violence Offences

The Attorney-General requested the Council to provide its advice on sentencing for serious injury offences involving gross violence. The request for advice relates to the introduction of a statutory minimum penalty for the offences of intentionally causing serious injury and recklessly causing serious injury when either offence is committed with gross violence.

Terms of Reference for the Statutory Minimum Sentences for Gross Violence Project

The government has committed to introduce a statutory minimum sentence for the offences of intentionally or recklessly causing serious injury when committed with gross violence, in the following terms:

  • A four-year minimum sentence (i.e. non-parole period) will apply to adult offenders, and a two-year minimum detention sentence will apply to juvenile offenders aged 16 or 17.
  • The minimum sentence is to apply save in tightly defined exceptional circumstances, such that the circumstances of the case are so unusual that the court is entitled to assume that parliament could not have intended those circumstances to be covered.
  • The minimum sentence is to apply where the offence involves gross violence, such as where the offender:
    • plans in advance to engage in an attack intending to cause serious injury
    • engages in a violent attack as part of a gang of three or more persons
    • plans in advance to carry and use a weapon in an attack and then deliberately or recklessly uses the weapon to inflict serious injury or
    • continues to violently attack the victim after the victim is incapacitated.

The Council was requested to provide advice on the following matters:

  • how the exceptional circumstances in which a court may impose a non-parole period of less than the statutory minimum should best be specified
  • how the factors making the offence of gross violence to which the minimum sentence is applicable should best be specified
  • the likely effects of the recommendations and options put forward by the Council on sentencing levels for the relevant offences and on the number of persons serving custodial and non-custodial sentences
  • any other matters the council considers relevant.

The Council provided its advice to the Attorney-General in September 2011. The Crimes Amendment (Gross Violence Offences) Act 2013 came into effect in July 2013.

The Statutory Minimum Sentences for Gross Violence Offences report is available for download from this website.