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

Sentencing Snapshot 139
Date of Publication: 
14 March 2013

Sentencing Snapshot no. 139 describes sentencing outcomes for the offence of obtaining property 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. 204.

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 property 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 takes property belonging to another person with the intention of permanently depriving that person of the property is guilty of obtaining property by deception.[4]

Obtaining property 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 property 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 property by deception was the principal offence[9] in 1.6% of cases sentenced in the higher courts between 2007–08 and 2011–12.

People sentenced

From 2007–08 to 2011–12, 160 people were sentenced in the higher courts for a principal offence of obtaining property by deception. These people are the focus of this Snapshot. However, an additional 147 people were sentenced in cases that involved obtaining property by deception but where some other offence was the principal offence. In total, 307 people were sentenced in the higher courts for 1,958 charges of obtaining property by deception.

Figure 1 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of obtaining property by deception from 2007–08 to 2011–12. Over the five years depicted, the majority of those sentenced were men (79.4% or 127 of the 160 people), including 16 of the 21 people sentenced in 2011–12.

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

  Gender    
Financial year Male Female Total
2007-08 35 17 52
2008-09 34 4 38
2009-10 25 4 29
2010-11 17 3 20
2011-12 16 5 21
Total 127 33 160

Sentence types and trends

Figure 2 shows the total number of people sentenced for obtaining property 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, 68% of people were given an immediate custodial sentence. This peaked at 76% (22 of 29) in 2009–10 after a low of 61% (23 of 38) in 2008–09. In 2011–12, 67% of people sentenced (14 of 21) were given an immediate custodial sentence.

Figure 2: The number of people sentenced for obtaining property 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 35 17 52
2008-09 23 15 38
2009-10 22 7 29
2010-11 15 5 20
2011-12 14 7 21
Total 109 51 160

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

Over the five-year period, around half of the people sentenced for obtaining property by deception received a period of imprisonment (55% or 88 of 160 people), while 22% received a wholly suspended[11] sentence of imprisonment and 11% received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment.

The number of people receiving a sentence of imprisonment was lowest during both 2010–11 and 2011–12 (13 people each) and highest during 2007–08 (23 people). The percentage was lowest during 2007–08 (44%, or 23 of 52 people) and highest during 2009–10 (76%, or 22 of 29 people).

The number and percentage of people receiving a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment were lowest during 2010–11 (15%, or 3 of 20 people). The number of wholly suspended sentences was highest during 2007–08 and 2008–09 (10 people each), while the percentage was highest during 2008–09 (26%).

The number and percentage of people receiving a partially suspended sentence were lowest during 2009–10 (0 people) and highest during 2007–08 (17%, or 9 of 52 people).

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

Sentence type 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 Total
Imprisonment 23 (44%) 17 (45%) 22 (76%) 13 (65%) 13 (62%) 88 (55%)
Wholly suspended sentence 10 (19%) 10 (26%) 7 (24%) 3 (15%) 5 (24%) 35 (22%)
Partially suspended sentence 9 (17%) 5 (13%) 0 (–) 2 (10%) 1 (5%) 17 (11%)
Community based order 1 (2%) 2 (5%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (5%) 4 (3%)
Aggregate wholly suspended sentence 3 (6%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (5%) 0 (–) 4 (3%)
Fine 1 (2%) 1 (3%) 0 (–) 1 (5%) 0 (–) 3 (2%)
Aggregate imprisonment 2 (4%) 1 (3%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 3 (2%)
Mix (wholly suspended sentence and fine) 1 (2%) 1 (3%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 2 (1%)
Youth training centre order 1 (2%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Community correction order 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (5%) 1 (<1%)
Aggregate fine 0 (–) 1 (3%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Adjourned undertaking with conviction 1 (2%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
People sentenced 52 38 29 20 21 160

Age and gender of people sentenced

Figure 3 shows the gender of people sentenced for obtaining property by deception grouped by their age[12] between 2007–08 and 2011–12. The average age of people sentenced for obtaining property by deception was 40 years and 7 months. Men sentenced over this period were older than women (an average age of 40 years and 10 months for men compared with 39 years and 5 months for women). There were no juveniles sentenced over this period.[13]

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

  Gender  
Age group (years) Male Female
20 to 24 6 3
25 to 29 16 2
30 to 34 19 4
35 to 39 25 9
40 to 44 20 5
45 to 49 11 6
50 to 54 10 2
55 to 59 10 1
60 or older 10 1

Sentence types by gender

Table 2 shows the types of sentences imposed for obtaining property by deception grouped by gender. As shown, a higher percentage of men received a period of imprisonment (58.3% compared with 42.4% of women). Conversely, a higher percentage of women received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment (30.3% compared with 19.7% of men), a community-based order (6.1% compared with 1.6%) and an adjourned undertaking with conviction (3.0% compared with no men).

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

Sentence type Male Female
Imprisonment 74 (58%) 14 (42%)
Wholly suspended sentence 25 (20%) 10 (30%)
Partially suspended sentence 13 (10%) 4 (12%)
Community based order 2 (2%) 2 (6%)
Aggregate wholly suspended sentence 3 (2%) 1 (3%)
Fine 3 (2%) 0 (–)
Aggregate imprisonment 3 (2%) 0 (–)
Mix (wholly suspended sentence and fine) 2 (2%) 0 (–)
Youth training centre order 1 (<1%) 0 (–)
Community correction order 0 (–) 1 (3%)
Aggregate fine 1 (<1%) 0 (–)
Adjourned undertaking with conviction 0 (–) 1 (3%)
People sentenced 127 33

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 35–39 years (59% or 20 of the 34 people in this age group).

Conversely, sentences of imprisonment were least common for those aged 45–49 years (47% or 8 of the 17 people in this age group).

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

Age group (years) Percentage
Younger than 35 58.0
35 to 39 58.8
40 to 44 52.0
45 to 49 47.1
50 or older 52.9

Wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment

As shown in Figure 5, wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment were most likely to be given to people aged 40–44 years (28% or 7 of the 25 people in this age group).

Conversely, wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment were least common for those aged 35–39 years (18% or 6 of the 34 people in this age group) and people aged 50 years and older (18% or 6 of the 34 people in this age group).

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

Age group (years) Percentage
younger than 35 24
35 to 39 17.6
40 to 44 28
45 to 49 23.5
50 or older 17.6

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 (21% or 7 of the 34 people in this age group).

Conversely, partially suspended sentences of imprisonment were least common for those aged under 35 years (4% or 2 of the 50 people in this age group).

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

Age group (years) Percentage
Younger than 35 4.0
35 to 39 5.9
40 to 44 12.0
45 to 49 17.6
50 or older 20.6

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 obtain property by deception must be considered in this broader context. The following sections analyse the use of imprisonment for the offence of obtain property by deception from 2007–08 to 2011–12.

Principal sentence of imprisonment

A total of 88 people received a principal sentence of imprisonment for obtaining property 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 1 month to 6 years, while the median length of imprisonment was 1 year, 10 months and 15 days (meaning that half of the imprisonment terms were shorter than 1 year, 10 months and 15 days and half were longer). The most common length of imprisonment imposed was 1 year to less than 2 years (35 people).

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

Imprisonment length Number
Less than 1 year 9
1 to less than 2 years 35
2 to less than 3 years 24
3 to less than 4 years 13
4 to less than 5 years 5
5 to less than 6 years 1
6 to less than 7 years 1

Expanding the analysis from principal sentences of imprisonment to all charges that received imprisonment, there were 1,444 charges of obtaining property by deception sentenced to imprisonment between 2007–08 and 2011–12. Imprisonment lengths for obtaining property by deception ranged from 6 days to 6 years while the median was 1 year and the most common length was less than 1 year (561 of 1,444 charges, or 38.9%).

Returning to principal sentences of imprisonment, as shown in Figure 8, the average length of imprisonment term imposed on people sentenced for obtaining property by deception ranged from 1 year and 6 months in 2007–08 to 2 years and 7 months in 2009–10. From 2007–08 to 2011–12, the majority of people who received a term of imprisonment for obtaining property by deception were men (74 people or 84.1%). Over the five-year period, men received a longer average term of imprisonment compared with women (1 year and 11 months for men, compared with 1 year and 8 months for women).

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

Financial year Average length of imprisonment
2007-08 1 year, 6 months
2008-09 1 year, 8 months
2009-10 2 years, 7 months
2010-11 1 year, 8 months
2011-12 2 years

Figure 9 shows that over the five-year period, the average imprisonment length for men ranged from 1 year and 6 months in 2007–08 and 2010–11 to 2 years and 10 months in 2009–10. In comparison, the average imprisonment length for women ranged from 5 months in 2008–09 to 2 years and 6 months in 2010–11.

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

  Gender  
Financial year Male Female
2007-08 1 year, 6 months 1 year, 9 months
2008-09 1 year, 9 months 5 months
2009-10 2 years, 10 months 1 year, 4 months
2010-11 1 year, 6 months 2 years, 6 months
2011-12 2 years 2 years, 2 months

Other offences finalised at the same hearing

Often people prosecuted for obtaining property 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 property by deception.

Figure 10 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of obtaining property by deception by the total number of offences for which sentences were set. The number of sentenced offences per person ranged from 1 to 182, while the median was 6 offences. There were 22 people (13.8%) sentenced for the single offence of obtaining property by deception. The average number of offences per person sentenced for obtaining property by deception was 11.11.

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

Number of offences Number of people
1 22
2 16
3 13
4 12
5 to 9 47
10 to 19 21
20 to 49 27
50 to 99 1
100 or more 1

While Figure 10 presents the number of sentenced offences for those sentenced for obtaining property 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, 36 of the total 160 people (22.5%) also received sentences for attempting to obtain property by deception. On average, they were sentenced for 2.06 counts of attempting to obtain property by deception.

Table 3: The number and percentage of people sentenced for the principal offence of obtaining property 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 property by deception 160 100.0 7.86
2 Attempt to obtain property by deception 36 22.5 2.06
3 Obtaining a financial advantage by deception 35 21.9 4.17
4 Theft 28 17.5 2.79
5 Handling stolen goods 13 8.1 2.85
6 Attempt to obtain financial advantage by deception 11 6.9 4.09
7 Make false document to prejudice other 10 6.3 1.50
8 Use false document to prejudice other 7 4.4 2.57
9 Possess a drug of dependence 5 3.1 1.80
10 Fail to answer bail 5 3.1 1.00
  People sentenced 160 100.0 11.11

Total effective sentence of imprisonment

There were 88 people given a total effective sentence of imprisonment.[16] Figure 11 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining property by deception between 2007–08 and 2011–12 by length of total effective sentence. The length of total effective sentences ranged from 4 months to 11 years, while the median total effective length of imprisonment was 3 years and 2 months (meaning that half of the total effective sentence lengths were below 3 years and 2 months and half were above). The most common total effective imprisonment length was 3 years to less than 4 years (23 people).

Figure 11: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining property 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 3
1 to less than 2 years 13
2 to less than 3 years 18
3 to less than 4 years 23
4 to less than 5 years 18
5 to less than 6 years 5
6 to less than 7 years 2
7 to less than 8 years 3
8 to less than 9 years 0
9 to less than 10 years 1
10 to less than 11 years 0
11 to less than 12 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 property by deception. Sentences and non-parole periods must be considered in this broader context.

Of the 88 people who were sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining property by deception, 84 were eligible to have a non-parole period fixed.[17] Of these people, 80 were given a non-parole period (95%).[18] Figure 12 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining property by deception between 2007–08 and 2011–12 by length of non-parole period. Non-parole periods ranged from 5 months to 8 years, while the median length of the non-parole period was 1 year, 9 months and 15 days (meaning that half of the non-parole periods were below 1 year, 9 months and 15 days and half were above). The most common non-parole period imposed was 1 year to less than 2 years (33 people).

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

Non-parole period Number of people
Less than 1 year 8
1 to less than 2 years 33
2 to less than 3 years 26
3 to less than 4 years 6
4 to less than 5 years 3
5 to less than 6 years 2
6 to less than 7 years 0
7 to less than 8 years 1
8 to less than 9 years 1
No non-parole period 5

Total effective sentences of imprisonment and non-parole periods

Figure 13 presents the average length of total effective sentences of imprisonment compared with the average length of non-parole periods for all people from 2007–08 to 2011–12.

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

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

From 2007–08 to 2011–12, the average length of total effective sentences for all people ranged from 3 years in 2008–09 to 4 years and 1 month in 2009–10. Over the same period, the average length of non-parole periods ranged from 1 year and 9 months in 2008–09 to 2 years and 7 months in 2009–10.

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 14 combines the two methods of describing sentence lengths in the one diagram. It shows the total effective sentence and non-parole period for obtaining property 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 14.

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 (17 people – as represented by the largest bubble on the chart). The length of imprisonment ranged from 4 months with no non-parole period to 11 years with a non-parole period of 8 years.

Figure 14: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for obtaining property 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
Less than 1 year no non-parole period 3
1 year to less than 2 years no non-parole period 2
1 year to less than 2 years less than 1 year 7
1 year to less than 2 years 1 year to less than 2 years 3
2 years to less than 3 years less than 1 year 1
2 years to less than 3 years 1 year to less than 2 years 17
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 13
4 years to less than 5 years 1 year to less than 2 years 4
4 years to less than 5 years 2 years to less than 3 years 12
4 years to less than 5 years 3 years to less than 4 years 2
5 years to less than 6 years 2 years to less than 3 years 1
5 years to less than 6 years 3 years to less than 4 years 4
6 years to less than 7 years 4 years to less than 5 years 2
7 years to less than 8 years 4 years to less than 5 years 1
7 years to less than 8 years 5 years to less than 6 years 2
9 years to less than 10 years 7 years to less than 8 years 1
11 years to less than 12 years 8 years to less than 9 years 1
Total number of people   85

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

Suspended sentences of imprisonment

There were 61 people given a suspended sentence of imprisonment as their total effective sentence. Of these, 42 people had their prison sentence wholly suspended and 19 received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment. Figure 15 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 15.

Wholly suspended sentence lengths ranged from 3 months to 3 years. The most common wholly suspended sentence length was 1 year (8 people – as represented by the largest green bubble on the chart).

Partially suspended sentences ranged from 1 year’s imprisonment with 10 months suspended to 3 years’ imprisonment with 2 years and 6 months suspended. The most common partially suspended sentence combinations were 1 year and 2 months’ imprisonment with 9 months suspended and 3 years’ imprisonment with 2 years and 3 months suspended (2 people each – as represented by the 2 largest grey bubbles on the chart).

Figure 15: The number of people given a wholly or partially suspended sentence of imprisonment for obtaining property by deception by sentence type and length, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Wholly suspended sentences
Wholly suspended sentence length (months) No. of people
3 1
4 1
6 5
8 1
10 2
12 8
15 4
16 1
18 5
22 1
24 7
25 1
27 1
30 3
36 1
Partially suspended sentences
Imprisonment sentence length (months) Suspended period (months) No. of people
12 10 1
13 9 1
14 9 2
14 10 1
15 9 1
15 11 1
23 16 1
23 17 1
24 18 1
27 21 1
30 18 1
30 23.5 1
31 25 1
33 30 1
36 12 1
36 27 2
36 30 1

Fines

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

The fine amount imposed ranged from $150 to $52,500, with a median of $800 (meaning that half of the values fell below $800 and half of the values were above $800).

The average fine amount was $8,536. Fines were only imposed against men.

Figure 16: The number of people who received a fine for obtaining property 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 2
$3000 to $3999 0
$4000 to $4999 0
$5000 to $5999 1
$6000 or more 2

Appeals

A sentence imposed on a person may be appealed[19] 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 property by deception in the period 2007–08 to 2011–12 had successfully appealed their conviction. Thus, the number of people sentenced from 2007–08 to 2011–12 for a principal offence of obtaining property by deception remained at 160 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 2 people. Both 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 6 years with a non-parole period of 4 years, which decreased to a total effective term of imprisonment of 5 years with a non-parole period of 4 years on appeal.[20] One additional person was able to reduce the duration of their partially suspended sentence as a result of an appeal, from 3 years’ imprisonment with 1 year suspended, to 2 years and 3 months’ imprisonment with 9 months suspended.

The principal sentence changed for one person as a result of a successful appeal, from an initial sentence of 3 years’ imprisonment for an individual offence of obtaining property by deception, to an aggregate sentence of imprisonment of 4 years and 6 months for several instances of this offence.

With the original sentencing data revised to incorporate appeal outcomes, the adjusted longest total effective imprisonment term was unchanged at 11 years with a non-parole period of 8 years and the adjusted longest principal sentence of imprisonment was unchanged at 6 years.

Summary

Between 2007–08 and 2011–12, 160 people were sentenced for obtaining property by deception in the higher courts. Over this period, the majority of people sentenced were men (79%), while 73% were between the ages of 25 and 49.

Around half of the people sentenced for obtaining property by deception received a period of imprisonment (55%), while 22% received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment and 11% 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 more common for people aged younger than 40 years, wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment were most common for people aged between 40 and 44 years and partially suspended sentences of imprisonment were most common for people aged 50 years and over.

Each of the 160 people was sentenced for an average of 11.11 offences, including 7.86 offences of obtaining property by deception. The most common offence finalised in conjunction with obtaining property by deception was attempting to obtain property by deception (22.5% of all cases). The number and range of offences for which people with a principal offence of obtaining property 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 2 months, while the median principal imprisonment length was 1 year, 10 months and 15 days.

Total effective imprisonment lengths ranged from 4 months with no non-parole period to 11 years with a non-parole period of 8 years. The most common sentence of imprisonment was 2 years with a non-parole period of 1 year.

The most common partially suspended sentence lengths were 1 year and 2 months with 9 months suspended and 3 years with 2 years and 3 months suspended, while the most common wholly suspended sentence length was 1 year.

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. 108, which described sentencing trends for obtaining property by deception between 2005–06 and 2009–10.

[2] The information source for sentencing outcomes for obtaining property 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 81.

[5] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 81(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 and 11 March 2009, the Magistrates’ Court Act 1989 (Vic) allowed this offence to be heard summarily ‘if the amount or value of the property alleged to have been obtained does not in the judgement of the Court exceed $100,000’. On 11 March 2009, the power to hear this offence summarily was subsequently transferred to Schedule 2 (4.9) 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, aggregate imprisonment and youth justice centre order.

[11] Obtaining property 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.

[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 property by deception. During the 2006–07 to 2010–11 period, 3 people received an aggregate form of imprisonment.

[16] Of the 88 people who were given a principal sentence of imprisonment, 85 were also given a total effective sentence of imprisonment. There were 2 people who were given imprisonment as the principal sentence for obtaining property by deception and a partially suspended sentence as a total effective sentence and one person who was given imprisonment as the principal sentence but a wholly suspended sentence as a total effective sentence. These 3 people were not included in Figure 11. There were also 3 people who received an aggregate sentence of imprisonment and these people are included in Figure 11. One person was not given a total effective sentence relating to that case alone, but which also related to other cases. It is not possible to determine the length of total effective sentence that related to this case only. The total effective sentence for this person was excluded from the analysis.

[17] A total of 3 people were not eligible for parole because they were given a total effective sentence length of less than 1 year.

[18] Three people were 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 these cases. The non-parole periods for these people are excluded from the analysis. A non-parole period was not set for 2 people who were eligible for a non-parole period.

[19] 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).

[20] The non-parole period for this person after appeal also included a sentence of imprisonment from a separate case that the person was serving