Sentencing Trends for Obtaining a Financial Advantage by Deception in the Higher Courts of Victoria 2007-08 to 2011-12

Sentencing Snapshot 138
Date of Publication: 
14 March 2013

Sentencing Snapshot no. 138 describes sentencing outcomes for the offence of obtaining a financial advantage by deception in the County and Supreme Courts of Victoria between 2007-08 and 2011-12.

The most recent Sentencing Snapshot for this offence is Snapshot no. 203.

You can also find statistics for this offence on SACStat.

Authored and published by the Sentencing Advisory Council
© Copyright State of Victoria, Sentencing Advisory Council, 2013

Introduction

This Sentencing Snapshot describes sentencing outcomes[1] for the offence of obtaining a financial advantage by deception and details the age and gender[2] of people sentenced for this offence in the County and Supreme Courts of Victoria between 2007–08 and 2011–12.[3] Except where otherwise noted, the data represent sentences imposed at first instance.

A person who, by any deception, dishonestly obtains any financial advantage for him- or herself or for another person is guilty of obtaining financial advantage by deception.[4]

Obtaining financial advantage by deception is an indictable offence that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment[5] and/or a fine of 1,200 penalty units.[6] Indictable offences are more serious offences triable before a judge and jury in the County or Supreme Court. Obtaining financial advantage by deception can also be tried summarily by the Magistrates’ Court if the property involved meets certain criteria,[7] the Magistrates’ Court considers it appropriate and the defendant consents.[8]

Obtaining a financial advantage by deception was the principal offence[9] in 1.7% of cases sentenced in the higher courts between 2007–08 and 2011–12.

People sentenced

From 2007–08 to 2011–12, 168 people were sentenced in the higher courts for a principal offence of obtaining a financial advantage by deception. These people are the focus of this Snapshot. However, an additional 96 people were sentenced in cases that involved obtaining a financial advantage by deception but where some other offence was the principal offence. In total, 264 people were sentenced in the higher courts for 1,274 charges of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

Figure 1 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of obtaining a financial advantage by deception during this five-year period. Over the five years depicted, the majority of those sentenced were men (77.4% or 130 of the 168 people), including 21 of the 30 people sentenced in 2011–12.

Figure 1: The number of people sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception by gender, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Gender
Financial year Male Female Total
2007-08 23 8 31
2008-09 23 5 28
2009-10 21 10 31
2010-11 42 6 48
2011-12 21 9 30
Total 130 38 168

Sentence types and trends

Figure 2 shows the total number of people sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception and the number who received an immediate custodial sentence. An immediate custodial sentence is one that involves at least some element of immediate (as opposed to wholly suspended) imprisonment or detention.[10] Over the five-year period, 53% of people were given an immediate custodial sentence. This peaked at 57% (17 of 30) in 2011–12 after a low of 42% (13 of 31) in 2007–08.

Figure 2: The number of people sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception and the number who received an immediate custodial sentence, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Sentence type
Financial year Custodial Non-custodial Total
2007-08 13 18 31
2008-09 15 13 28
2009-10 17 14 31
2010-11 27 21 48
2011-12 17 13 30
Total 89 79 168

Table 1 shows the number of people sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception from 2007–08 to 2011–12 by the types of sentences imposed.

Over the five-year period, around 4 in 10 people sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception received a period of imprisonment (42% or 71 of 168 people), while 35% received a wholly suspended[11] sentence of imprisonment and 9% received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment.

The number of people sentenced to imprisonment ranged from 11 people during each of 2007–08, 2008–09 and 2009–10 to 23 people in 2010–11. The percentage of people sentenced to imprisonment was lowest during both 2007–08 and 2009–10 (35% each) and highest during 2011–12 (50% or 15 of 30 people).

The number and percentage of people given a wholly suspended sentence were lowest during 2011–12 (30% or 9 of 30 people). The number of people was highest during 2010–11 (15 people) while the percentage was highest during 2008–09 (43% or 12 of 28 people).

Table 1: The number and percentage of people sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception by sentence type, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Sentence type 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 Total
Imprisonment 11 (35%) 11 (39%) 11 (35%) 23 (48%) 15 (50%) 71 (42%)
Wholly suspended sentence 12 (39%) 12 (43%) 10 (32%) 15 (31%) 9 (30%) 58 (35%)
Partially suspended sentence 2 (6%) 4 (14%) 4 (13%) 3 (6%) 2 (7%) 15 (9%)
Community based order 2 (6%) 0 (–) 2 (6%) 2 (4%) 0 (–) 6 (4%)
Fine 1 (3%) 1 (4%) 1 (3%) 2 (4%) 0 (–) 5 (3%)
Community correction order 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 3 (10%) 3 (2%)
Aggregate imprisonment 0 (–) 0 (–) 2 (6%) 1 (2%) 0 (–) 3 (2%)
Wholly suspended sentence with recognizance release order (Cth) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (2%) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Mix (wholly suspended sentence with recognizance release order (Cth) and fine) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (3%) 1 (<1%)
Intensive correction order 1 (3%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Home detention 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (2%) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Aggregate wholly suspended sentence 1 (3%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Aggregate intensive correction order 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (3%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Adjourned undertaking without conviction 1 (3%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
People sentenced 31 28 31 48 30 168

Age and gender of people sentenced

Figure 3 shows the gender of people sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception grouped by their age[12] between 2007–08 and 2011–12. The average age of people sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception was 42 years and 9 months. Men sentenced over this period were slightly older than women (an average age of 42 years and 10 months for men compared with 42 years and 4 months for women). There were no juveniles sentenced over this period.[13]

Figure 3: The number of people sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception by gender and age, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Gender
Age group (years) Male Female
23 to 24 6 3
25 to 29 9 4
30 to 34 17 5
35 to 39 17 5
40 to 44 20 6
45 to 49 28 4
50 to 54 11 4
55 to 59 12 3
60 or older 9 4

Sentence types by gender

Table 2 shows the types of sentences imposed for obtaining a financial advantage by deception grouped by gender. As shown, a higher percentage of men received a period of imprisonment (43.8% compared with 36.8% of women) and a fine (3.8% compared with no women). Conversely, a higher percentage of women received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment (44.7% compared with 31.5% of men).

Table 2: The number and percentage of people sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception by sentence type and gender, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Sentence type Male Female
Imprisonment 57 (44%) 14 (37%)
Wholly suspended sentence 41 (32%) 17 (45%)
Partially suspended sentence 11 (8%) 4 (11%)
Community based order 5 (4%) 1 (3%)
Fine 5 (4%) 0 (–)
Community correction order 2 (2%) 1 (3%)
Aggregate imprisonment 3 (2%) 0 (–)
Wholly suspended sentence with recognizance release order (Cth) 1 (<1%) 0 (–)
Mix (wholly suspended sentence with recognizance release order (Cth) and fine) 1 (<1%) 0 (–)
Intensive correction order 1 (<1%) 0 (–)
Home detention 1 (<1%) 0 (–)
Aggregate wholly suspended sentence 1 (<1%) 0 (–)
Aggregate intensive correction order 1 (<1%) 0 (–)
Adjourned undertaking without conviction 0 (–) 1 (3%)
People sentenced 130 38

Sentence types by age

As shown in Table 2, the three most common sentence types were imprisonment, wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment and partially suspended sentences of imprisonment. The following analysis examines these sentence types by the offender’s age group.

Imprisonment

As shown in Figure 4, sentences of imprisonment were most likely to be given to people aged 40–44 years (58% or 15 of the 26 people in this age group).

Conversely, sentences of imprisonment were least common for those aged 35–39 years (32% or 7 of the 22 people in this age group).

Figure 4: The percentage of people who received a period of imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception by age group, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Age group (years) Percentage
Younger than 35 38.6
35 to 39 31.8
40 to 44 57.7
45 to 49 46.9
50 or older 37.2

Wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment

As shown in Figure 5, wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment were most likely to be given to people aged 35–39 years (55% or 12 of the 22 people in this age group).

Conversely, wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment were least common for those aged 50 or older (30% or 13 of the 43 people in this age group).

Figure 5: The percentage of people who received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception by age group, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Age group (years) Percentage
younger than 35 34.1
35 to 39 54.5
40 to 44 30.8
45 to 49 31.3
50 or older 30.2

Partially suspended sentences of imprisonment

As shown in Figure 6, partially suspended sentences of imprisonment were most likely to be given to people aged 50 years and older (16% or 7 of the 43 people in this age group).

Conversely, none of the 26 people aged 40–44 years received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment.

Figure 6: The percentage of people who received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception by age group, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Age group (years) Percentage
Younger than 35 11.4
35 to 39 4.5
40 to 44 0.0
45 to 49 6.3
50 or older 16.3

Principal and total effective sentences

Two methods for describing sentence types and lengths are examined in this section. One relates to the principal sentence and examines sentences for the offence at a charge level. The other relates to the total effective sentence and examines sentences for the offence at a case level.

The principal sentence is the individual sentence imposed for the charge that is the principal offence.[14]

The total effective sentence in a case with a single charge is the principal sentence. The total effective sentence in a case with multiple charges is the sentence that results from the court ordering the individual sentences for each charge to be served concurrently (at the same time) or wholly or partially cumulatively (one after the other).

In many cases, the total effective sentence imposed on a person will be longer than the principal sentence. Principal sentences for handling stolen goods must be considered in this broader context. The following sections analyse the use of imprisonment for the offence of handling stolen goods from 2007–08 to 2011–12.

Principal sentence of imprisonment

A total of 71 people received a principal sentence of imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception between 2007–08 and 2011–12.

Figure 7 shows these people by the length of their imprisonment term.[15] Imprisonment terms ranged from 6 months to 9 years, while the median length of imprisonment was 2 years (meaning that half of the imprisonment terms were shorter than 2 years and half were longer).

The most common length of imprisonment imposed was 2 years to less than 3 years (28 people).

Figure 7: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception by length of imprisonment term, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Imprisonment length Number
Less than 1 year 3
1 to less than 2 years 22
2 to less than 3 years 28
3 to less than 4 years 11
4 to less than 5 years 5
5 to less than 6 years 0
6 to less than 7 years 1
7 to less than 8 years 0
8 to less than 9 years 0
10 to less than 11 years 1

Expanding the analysis from principal sentences of imprisonment to all charges that received imprisonment, there were 799 charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception that were sentenced to imprisonment between 2007–08 and 2011–12. Imprisonment lengths for obtaining a financial advantage by deception ranged from 7 days to 9 years while the median was 1 year. The two most common lengths were less than 1 year and 1 year to less than 2 years (312 charges each, or 39% each).

Returning to principal sentences of imprisonment, as shown in Figure 8, the average length of imprisonment term imposed on people sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception ranged from 1 year and 11 months in 2009–10 to 2 years and 8 months in 2010–11.

Figure 8: The average length of imprisonment term imposed on people sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Financial year Average length of imprisonment
2007-08 2 years, 1 month
2008-09 2 years
2009-10 1 year, 11 months
2010-11 2 years, 8 months
2011-12 2 years, 3 months

From 2007–08 to 2011–12, the majority of people who received a term of imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception were men (57 people or 80.3%). Figure 9 shows that over the five-year period, men received a longer average term of imprisonment (ranging from 1 year and 9 months in 2009–10 to 2 years and 10 months in 2010–11), compared with women (ranging from 1 year and 10 months in 2011–12 to 2 years and 6 months in 2008–09).

Figure 9: The average period of imprisonment imposed on people sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception by gender, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Gender
Financial year Male Female
2007-08 2 years, 1 month
2008-09 1 year, 11 months 2 years, 6 months
2009-10 1 year, 9 months 2 years, 4 months
2010-11 2 years, 10 months 2 years, 1 month
2011-12 2 years, 4 months 1 year, 10 months

Other offences finalised at the same hearing

Often people prosecuted for obtaining a financial advantage by deception face multiple charges, which are finalised at the same hearing. This section looks at the range of offences for which offenders have been sentenced at the same time as being sentenced for the principal offence of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

Figure 10 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of obtaining a financial advantage by deception by the total number of offences for which sentences were set. The number of sentenced offences per person ranged from 1 to 126, while the median was 5 offences. There were 25 people (14.9%) sentenced for the single offence of obtaining a financial advantage by deception. The average number of offences per person sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception was 10.05.

Figure 10: The number of people sentenced for the principal offence of obtaining a financial advantage by deception by the number of sentenced offences per person, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Number of offences Number of people
1 25
2 19
3 22
4 14
5 to 9 39
10 to 19 29
20 to 49 15
50 to 99 4
100 or more 1

While Figure 10 presents the number of sentenced offences for those sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception, Table 3 shows what the accompanying offences were. It shows the number and percentage of people sentenced for the 10 most common offences. The last column sets out the average number of offences sentenced per person. For example, 31 of the total 168 people (18.5%) also received sentences for obtaining property by deception. On average, they were sentenced for 11.32 counts of obtaining property by deception.

Table 3: The number and percentage of people sentenced for the principal offence of obtaining a financial advantage by deception by the most common offences that were sentenced and the average number of those offences that were sentenced, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Offence No. % Avg.
1 Obtaining a financial advantage by deception 168 100.0 5.47
2 Obtaining property by deception 31 18.5 11.32
3 Attempt to obtain financial advantage by deception 31 18.5 3.90
4 Theft 19 11.3 3.58
5 Make false document to prejudice of other 14 8.3 1.86
6 Use false document to prejudice of other 10 6.0 1.70
7 Handling stolen goods 9 5.4 4.33
8 Possess a drug of dependence 9 5.4 2.56
9 Attempt to obtain property by deception 6 3.6 4.67
10 Falsify any document required for any accounting purpose 5 3.0 3.8
People sentenced 168 100.0 10.05

Total effective sentence of imprisonment

There were 72 people given a total effective sentence of imprisonment.[16] Figure 11 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception between 2007–08 and 2011–12 by length of total effective sentence. The length of total effective sentences ranged from 1 year and 3 months to 16 years and 6 months, while the median total effective length of imprisonment was 3 years and 9 months (meaning that half of the total effective sentence lengths were below 3 years and 9 months and half were above).

The most common total effective imprisonment length was 2 years to less than 3 years (19 people).

Figure 11: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception by length of total effective imprisonment term, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Total effective imprisonment length Number of people
Less than 1 year 0
1 to less than 2 years 5
2 to less than 3 years 19
3 to less than 4 years 15
4 to less than 5 years 13
5 to less than 6 years 10
6 to less than 7 years 4
7 to less than 8 years 2
8 to less than 9 years 1
9 to less than 10 years 0
10 to less than 11 years 0
11 to less than 12 years 0
12 to less than 13 years 2
13 to less than 14 years 0
14 to less than 15 years 0
15 to less than 16 years 0
16 to less than 17 years 1

Non-parole period

When a person is sentenced to a term of immediate imprisonment of one year or more, the court has the discretion to fix a non-parole period. Where a non-parole period is fixed, the person must serve that period before becoming eligible for parole. Where no non-parole period is set by the court, the person must serve the entirety of the imprisonment term.

Under section 11(4) of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic), if a court sentences an offender to imprisonment in respect of more than one offence, the non-parole period set by the court must be in respect of the total effective sentence of imprisonment that the offender is liable to serve under all the sentences imposed. In many cases, the non-parole period will be longer than the individual principal sentence for obtaining a financial advantage by deception. Sentences and non-parole periods must be considered in this broader context.

Of the 72 people who were sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception, all were eligible to have a non-parole period fixed. Of these people, 70 were given a non-parole period (97%).[17] Figure 12 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception between 2007–08 and 2011–12 by length of non-parole period. Non-parole periods ranged from 1 month and 14 days to 12 years, while the median length of the non-parole period was 2 years (meaning that half of the non-parole periods were below 2 years and half were above).

The most common non-parole period imposed was 1 year to less than 2 years (25 people).

Figure 12: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception by length of non-parole period, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Non-parole period Number of people
Less than 1 year 6
1 to less than 2 years 25
2 to less than 3 years 20
3 to less than 4 years 11
4 to less than 5 years 2
5 to less than 6 years 3
6 to less than 7 years 0
7 to less than 8 years 0
8 to less than 9 years 0
9 to less than 10 years 2
10 to less than 11 years 0
11 to less than 12 years 0
12 to less than 13 years 1
No non-parole period 1

Total effective sentences of imprisonment and non-parole periods

Figures 13, 14 and 15 present the average length of total effective sentences of imprisonment compared with the average length of non-parole periods for all people (Figure 13), for men (Figure 14) and for women (Figure 15) from 2007–08 to 2011–12.

From 2007–08 to 2011–12, the average length of total effective sentences for all people ranged from 3 years and 3 months in 2009–10 to 4 years and 5 months in 2010–11. Over the same period, the average length of non-parole periods ranged from 1 year and 8 months in 2009–10 to 3 years in 2008–09.

Figure 13: The average total effective sentence and the average non-parole period imposed on people sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Financial year Total effective sentence length Non-parole period
2007-08 4 years, 3 months 2 years, 4 months
2008-09 4 years, 4 months 3 years
2009-10 3 years, 3 months 1 year, 8 months
2010-11 4 years, 5 months 2 years, 8 months
2011-12 4 years, 4 months 2 years, 7 months

From 2007–08 to 2011–12, the average length of total effective sentences for men ranged from 3 years and 3 months in 2009–10 to 5 years and 1 month in 2011–12. Over the same period, the average length of non-parole periods for men ranged from 1 year and 9 months in 2009–10 to 3 years and 1 month in 2008–09 and 2011–12.

The average length of total effective sentences for women ranged from 2 years and 4 months in 2011–12 to 5 years and 1 month in 2008–09 (no women received imprisonment in 2007–08). Over the same period, the average length of non-parole periods for women ranged from 1 year and 3 months in 2011–12 to 2 years and 10 months in 2008–09.

Figure 14: The average total effective sentence and the average non-parole period imposed on men sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Financial year Total effective sentence length Non-parole period
2007-08 4 years, 3 months 2 years, 4 months
2008-09 4 years, 2 months 3 years, 1 month
2009-10 3 years, 3 months 1 year, 9 months
2010-11 4 years, 8 months 3 years
2011-12 5 years, 1 month 3 years, 1 month

Figure 15: The average total effective sentence and the average non-parole period imposed on women sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Financial year Total effective sentence length Non-parole period
2007-08
2008-09 5 years, 1 month 2 years, 10 months
2009-10 3 years, 1 month 1 year, 7 months
2010-11 3 years, 6 months 1 year, 9 months
2011-12 2 years, 4 months 1 year, 3 months

Total effective sentence of imprisonment by non-parole period

While Figures 11 and 12 present the lengths of the total effective sentences and non-parole periods separately, Figure 16 combines the two methods of describing sentence lengths in the one diagram. It shows the total effective sentence and non-parole period for obtaining a financial advantage by deception for each individual person.

The centre of each ‘bubble’ on the chart represents a combination of imprisonment length and non-parole period, while the size of the bubble reflects the number of people who received that particular combination. Sentence lengths and non-parole periods that are longer than one year are rounded down to the nearest year of imprisonment, while sentence lengths and non-parole periods of less than one year are grouped into the ‘<1 year’ category. For example, a sentence length of 2 years and 6 months would be included as a sentence length of 2 years for the purposes of Figure 16.

As shown, the most common combination of imprisonment length and non-parole period imposed was 2 years with a non-parole period of 1 year (16 people – as represented by the largest bubble on the chart). The length of imprisonment ranged from 1 year and 3 months with a non-parole period of 9 months to 16 years and 6 months with a non-parole period of 12 years.

Figure 16: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception by the total effective sentence and the non-parole period imposed, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Total effective sentence category Non-parole period category Total
1 year to less than 2 years no non-parole period 1
1 year to less than 2 years less than 1 year 3
2 years to less than 3 years less than 1 year 3
2 years to less than 3 years 1 year to less than 2 years 16
3 years to less than 4 years 1 year to less than 2 years 9
3 years to less than 4 years 2 years to less than 3 years 6
4 years to less than 5 years 2 years to less than 3 years 8
4 years to less than 5 years 3 years to less than 4 years 5
5 years to less than 6 years 2 years to less than 3 years 5
5 years to less than 6 years 3 years to less than 4 years 5
6 years to less than 7 years 2 years to less than 3 years 1
6 years to less than 7 years 3 years to less than 4 years 1
6 years to less than 7 years 4 years to less than 5 years 2
7 years to less than 8 years 5 years to less than 6 years 2
8 years to less than 9 years 5 years to less than 6 years 1
12 years to less than 13 years 9 years to less than 10 years 2
16 years to less than 17 years 12 years to less than 13 years 1
Total number of people 71

Note: No NPP refers to no non-parole period.

Suspended sentences of imprisonment

There were 76 people given a suspended sentence of imprisonment as their total effective sentence. Of these, 59 people had their prison sentence wholly suspended and 17 received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment. Figure 17 shows the number of people with a suspended sentence of imprisonment as their total effective sentence by the suspended sentence type and length of sentence. The green ‘bubbles’ to the left of the vertical axis show the lengths of the wholly suspended sentences, while the grey bubbles to the right of the vertical axis show the combination of total imprisonment length and the suspended period for those sentenced to a partially suspended sentence. The size of the bubble reflects the number of people who received either the wholly or the partially suspended prison term. Imprisonment lengths and suspended periods that end part way through a month are rounded down to the nearest complete month. For example, a wholly suspended sentence of 6 months and 12 days would be included as a sentence length of 6 months for the purposes of Figure 17.

Wholly suspended sentence lengths ranged from 4 months to 3 years. The two most common wholly suspended sentence lengths were 2 years and 6 months, and 3 years (8 people each – as represented by the two largest green bubbles on the chart).

Partially suspended sentences ranged from 9 month’s imprisonment with 6 months suspended to 3 year’s imprisonment with 2 years suspended. The most common partially suspended sentence combination was 3 year’s imprisonment with 1 year and 6 months suspended (2 people – as represented by the largest grey bubble on the chart).

Figure 17: The number of people given a wholly or partially suspended sentence of imprisonment for obtaining a financial advantage by deception by sentence type and length, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Wholly suspended sentences
Wholly suspended sentence length (months) No. of people
4 1
6 3
10 3
11 1
12 7
13 1
15 1
16 3
17 1
18 6
20 1
21 1
22 2
24 5
26 1
27 2
29 1
30 8
33 2
34 1
36 8
Partially suspended sentences
Imprisonment sentence length (months) Suspended period (months) No. of people
9 6 1
20 8 1
24 15 1
24 16 1
24 18 1
26 18 1
26 24 1
27 14 1
27 15 1
27 19 1
30 20 1
30 24 1
31 20 1
36 18 2
36 19 1
36 24 1

Fines

This analysis includes all fines that were imposed for cases where obtaining a financial advantage by deception was the principal offence. Fines were imposed on 11 people.

The fine amount imposed ranged from $100 to $30,000, with a median of $600 (meaning that half of the values fell below $600 and half of the values were above $600).

The average fine amount was $5,373. Fines were only imposed against men.

Figure 18: The number of people who received a fine for obtaining a financial advantage by deception by fine amount, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Fine amount No. of people
$0 to $999 6
$1000 to $1999 0
$2000 to $2999 1
$3000 to $3999 1
$4000 to $4999 0
$5000 to $5999 0
$6000 to $6999 0
$7000 to $7999 0
$8000 to $8999 0
$9000 to $9999 1
$10000 or more 2

Appeals

A sentence imposed on a person may be appealed[18] by that person or by the Crown. A person sentenced may also appeal against their conviction. All appeals made in relation to people sentenced in the higher courts are determined by the Court of Appeal.

Up to June 2012, no-one sentenced for a principal offence of obtaining financial advantage by deception in the period 2007–08 to 2011–12 successfully appealed their conviction. Thus, the number of people sentenced from 2007–08 to 2011–12 for a principal offence of obtaining financial advantage by deception remained at 168 people once appeals are considered.

As a result of successful appeals against sentence, the total effective sentence and/or the non-parole period changed for 6 people. All of these appeals were made by the person sentenced and resulted in a sentence reduction. The longest total effective imprisonment term to be reduced was a sentence of 12 years and 2 months with a non-parole period of 9 years. On appeal, this case was resentenced to 9 years and 10 months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 7 years and 6 months. There were no successful appeals made by the Crown from 2007–08 to 2011–12.

The principal sentence changed for 4 people as a result of a successful appeal. The longest principal sentence of imprisonment reduced was 6 years, which decreased to 4 years on appeal. There were no principal sentences that increased in severity as a result of an appeal.

With the original sentencing data revised to incorporate appeal outcomes, the adjusted longest total effective imprisonment term was unchanged at 16 years and 6 months with a non-parole period of 12 years. The adjusted longest principal sentence of imprisonment was also unchanged at 9 years.

Summary

Between 2007–08 and 2011–12, 168 people were sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception in the higher courts. Over this period, the majority of people sentenced were men (77%), while 61% were aged between 30 and 49 years.

Around 4 in 10 people sentenced for obtaining a financial advantage by deception received a period of imprisonment (42%), while 35% received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment and 9% received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment.

Men were more likely than women to be sentenced to a period of imprisonment. Conversely, women were more likely to be sentenced to a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment.

Imprisonment was most common for those aged between 40 and 44 years while wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment were more common for those aged between 35 and 39 years.

Each of the 168 people was sentenced for an average of 10.05 offences, including 5.47 offences of obtaining a financial advantage by deception. The most common offence finalised in conjunction with obtaining a financial advantage by deception was obtaining property by deception (18.5% of all cases). The number and range of offences for which people with a principal offence of obtaining a financial advantage by deception were sentenced help explain why imprisonment sentence lengths were longer for the total effective sentence than for the principal sentence. The median total effective imprisonment length was 3 years and 9 months, while the median principal imprisonment length was 2 years.

Total effective imprisonment lengths ranged from 1 year and 3 months with a non-parole period of 9 months to 16 years and 6 months with a non-parole period of 12 years. The most common sentence of imprisonment was 2 years with a non-parole period of 1 year.

The most common partially suspended sentence length was 3 years with 1 year and 6 months suspended, while the most common wholly suspended sentence lengths were 2 years and 6 months and 3 years.

A small number of people were able to successfully appeal against their sentences. When the results of the appeal outcomes are incorporated into the original sentencing data, the range of total effective imprisonment length and principal imprisonment sentence length was unchanged.

Endnotes

[1] This series of reports includes custodial and non-custodial supervision orders imposed under Part 5 of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to Be Tried) Act 1997 (Vic) as sentencing orders and in the count of people sentenced. These orders are not sentencing orders, as they are imposed in cases where the defendant is not guilty because of mental impairment. However, they are included in this report as they are an important form of disposition of criminal charges.

This Sentencing Snapshot is an update of Sentencing Snapshot no. 107, which described sentencing trends for obtaining a financial advantage by deception between 2005–06 and 2009–10.

[2] The information source for sentencing outcomes for obtaining a financial advantage by deception only contains information on age and gender characteristics. No other demographic analysis is possible using this data source.

[3] The source data for the statistical information presented in this Snapshot were provided by the Business Intelligence area of the Courts and Tribunals unit within the Department of Justice (Vic). The Sentencing Advisory Council regularly undertakes extensive quality control measures for current and historical data. While every effort is made to ensure that the data analysed in this report are accurate, the data are subject to revision.

[4] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 82.

[5] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 82(1).

[6] The value of a penalty unit changes each year and can be found in the Victorian Government Gazette and on the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel website (link to external site opens in a new window).

[7] Between 1 July 2007 to 11 March 2009, the Magistrates’ Court Act 1989 (Vic) allowed this offence to be heard summarily ‘if the amount or value of the financial advantage alleged to have been obtained does not in the judgement of the Court exceed $100,000’. After 11 March 2009 the power to hear this offence summarily was transferred to Schedule 2 (4.10) of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic). There were no significant changes to the type or value of the property that would allow the offence to be heard summarily.

[8] Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) s 29. Prior to the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) coming into effect, section 53 of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1989 (Vic) provided similar powers to allow the Magistrates’ Court to hear this offence summarily.

[9] If a person is sentenced for a case with a single charge, the offence for that charge is the principal offence. If a person is sentenced for more than one charge in a single case, the principal offence is the offence for the charge that attracted the most serious sentence according to the sentencing hierarchy.

[10] Immediate custodial sentence includes imprisonment, partially suspended sentence and aggregate imprisonment.

[11] Obtaining financial advantage by deception is not defined as a ‘serious’ or a ‘significant’ offence for the purposes of giving a wholly suspended sentence under section 27(2B) of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic).

[12] Age is as at the time of sentencing. One person’s age was unknown and they were excluded from Figure 3.

[13] Some defendants who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing the alleged offence and who were not 19 years or older at the time proceedings commenced may have been dealt with in the Children’s Court of Victoria.

[14] Refer to endnote 9.

[15] Data presented in this section does not include imprisonment lengths for people who received an aggregate sentence of imprisonment. Sentence lengths for aggregate sentences of imprisonment apply to the whole case, while Figure 7 only deals with sentences of imprisonment for the principal proven offence of obtaining a financial advantage by deception. During the 2006–07 to 2010–11 period, 3 people received an aggregate form of imprisonment.

[16] Of the 71 people who were given a principal sentence of imprisonment, 69 were also given a total effective sentence of imprisonment. There were 2 people who were given imprisonment as the principal sentence for obtaining a financial advantage by deception and a partially suspended sentence as a total effective sentence. There were also 3 people who received an aggregate sentence of imprisonment and these people are included in Figure 12.

[17] One person was not given a non-parole period relating to that case alone, but a non-parole period that also related to other cases. It is not possible to determine the length of the non-parole period that relates to this case. The non-parole period for this person is excluded from the analysis. A non-parole period was not set for one person who was eligible for a non-parole period.

[18] Appeals data were collected by the Sentencing Advisory Council from transcripts of sentencing remarks of criminal appeals on the Australasian Legal Information Institute’s website (link to external site opens in a new window).