Sentencing Trends for Indecent Act with a Child under 16 in the Higher Courts of Victoria 2007-08 to 2011-12

Sentencing Snapshot 147
Date of Publication: 
27 June 2013

Sentencing Snapshot no. 147 describes sentencing outcomes for the offence of indecent act with a child under 16 in the County Court of Victoria between 2007-08 and 2011-12.

The most recent Sentencing Snapshot for this offence is Snapshot no. 206.

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 indecent act with a child under 16 and details the age and gender[2] of people sentenced for this offence in the County Court of Victoria between 2007–08 and 2011–12.[3] Except where otherwise noted, the data represent sentences imposed at first instance.

A person who is involved in any act in indecent circumstances, with or in the presence of a child under 16, is guilty of the offence of committing an indecent act with a child under the age of 16.[4]

Committing an indecent act with a child under the age of 16 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. Committing an indecent act with a child under 16 can also be tried summarily by the Magistrates’ Court[7] if the Magistrates’ Court considers it appropriate and the defendant consents.[8]

Indecent act with a child under 16 was the principal offence[9] in 1.8% of cases sentenced in the higher courts between 2007–08 and 2011–12.

People sentenced

From 2007–08 to 2011–12, 184 people were sentenced in the higher courts for a principal offence of indecent act with a child under 16. These people are the focus of this Snapshot. However, an additional 416 people were sentenced in cases that involved indecent act with a child under 16 but where some other offence was the principal offence. In total, 599 people were sentenced in the higher courts for 2,020 charges of indecent act with a child under 16.

Figure 1 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of indecent act with a child under 16 by their gender. Over the five years depicted, the majority of those sentenced were men (98.4% or 181 of 184 people), including 30 of the 31 people sentenced in 2011–12.

Figure 1: The number of people sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16 by gender, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Financial year Gender    
  Male Female Total
2007–08 37 0 37
2008–09 42 2 44
2009–10 30 0 30
2010–11 42 0 42
2011–12 30 1 31
Total 181 3 184

Sentence types and trends

Figure 2 shows the total number of people sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16 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, 67% of people were given an immediate custodial sentence. This peaked at 83% (25 of 30) in 2009–10 after a low of 55% (24 of 44) in 2008–09. In 2011–12, 58% of people sentenced (18 of 31) were given an immediate custodial sentence.

Figure 2: The number of people sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16 and the number who received an immediate custodial sentence, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Year Sentence type    
  Custodial Non-custodial Total
2007–08 27 10 37
2008–09 24 20 44
2009–10 25 5 30
2010–11 29 13 42
2011–12 18 13 31
Total 123 61 184

Table 1 shows the number of people sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16 from 2007–08 to 2011–12 by the types of sentences imposed.

Over the five-year period, around half of the people sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16 received a period of imprisonment (54% or 99 of 184 people), while 19% received a wholly suspended[11] sentence of imprisonment and 13% received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment.

The number of people receiving a sentence of imprisonment was lowest during 2011–12 (15 people) and highest during both 2009–10 and 2010–11 (22 people each). The percentage of people receiving a sentence of imprisonment was lowest during 2008–09 (43% or 19 of 44 people) and highest during 2009–10 (73% or 22 of 30 people).

The number and percentage of people receiving a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment were lowest during 2009–10 (1 of 30 people or 3%) and highest during 2008–09 (13 of 44 people or 30%).

The number and percentage of people receiving a partially suspended sentence were lowest during both 2009–10 and 2011–12 (3 people and 10% each). The number of partially suspended sentences was highest during both 2007–08 and 2010–11 (6 people) while the percentage was highest during 2007–08 (16% or 6 of 37 people).

Table 1: The number and percentage of people sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16 by sentence type, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Sentence type 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 Total
Imprisonment 21 (57%) 19 (43%) 22 (73%) 22 (52%) 15 (48%) 99 (54%)
Wholly suspended sentence 6 (16%) 13 (30%) 1 (3%) 7 (17%) 8 (26%) 35 (19%)
Partially suspended sentence 6 (16%) 5 (11%) 3 (10%) 6 (14%) 3 (10%) 23 (13%)
Community-based order 2 (5%) 4 (9%) 1 (3%) 3 (7%) 0 (–) 10 (5%)
Community correction order 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 5 (16%) 5 (3%)
Non-custodial supervision order 0 (–) 3 (7%) 2 (7%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 5 (3%)
Adjourned undertaking without conviction 1 (3%) 0 (–) 1 (3%) 1 (2%) 0 (–) 3 (2%)
Fine 1 (3%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (2%) 0 (–) 2 (1%)
Mix (imprisonment and community-based order) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (2%) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Adjourned undertaking with conviction 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (2%) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
People sentenced 37 44 30 42 31 184

Age and gender of people sentenced

Figure 3 shows the gender of people sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16 grouped by their age[12] between 2007–08 and 2011–12. The average age of people sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16 was 46 years and 1 month. There were no juveniles sentenced over this period.[13]

Figure 3: The number of people sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16 by gender and age, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Age group (years) Gender  
  Male Female
19 2 0
20 to 24 19 0
25 to 29 8 1
30 to 34 17 0
35 to 39 14 0
40 to 44 30 1
45 to 49 14 1
50 to 54 17 0
55 to 59 21 0
60 to 64 15 0
65 to 69 12 0
70 or older 12 0

Sentence types by gender

Table 2 shows the types of sentences imposed for indecent act with a child under 16 grouped by gender. As shown, a higher percentage of men received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment (19.3% compared with no women), a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment (12.7% compared with no women) and a community-based order (5.5% compared with no women). Conversely, a higher percentage of women received a community correction order (33.3% compared with 2.2% of men) and a period of imprisonment (66.7% compared with 53.6%).

Table 2: The number and percentage of people sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16 by sentence type and gender, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Sentence type Male Female
Imprisonment 97 (54%) 2 (67%)
Wholly suspended sentence 35 (19%) 0 (–)
Partially suspended sentence 23 (13%) 0 (–)
Community-based order 10 (6%) 0 (–)
Community correction order 4 (2%) 1 (33%)
Non-custodial supervision order 5 (3%) 0 (–)
Adjourned undertaking without conviction 3 (2%) 0 (–)
Fine 2 (1%) 0 (–)
Mix (imprisonment and community-based order) 1 (<1%) 0 (–)
Adjourned undertaking with conviction 1 (<1%) 0 (–)
People sentenced 181 3

Sentence types by age

As shown in Table 1, the four most common sentence types were imprisonment, wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment, partially suspended sentences of imprisonment and community-based orders. 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 (71% or 10 of the 14 people in this age group).

Conversely, sentences of imprisonment were least common for those aged 55–59 years (43% or 9 of the 21 people in this age group).

Figure 4: The percentage of people who received a period of imprisonment for indecent act with a child under 16 by age group, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Age group (years) Percentage
Younger than 35 46.8
35 to 39 71.4
40 to 44 48.4
45 to 49 60.0
50 to 54 64.7
55 to 59 42.9
60 or older 59.0

Wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment

As shown in Figure 5, wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment were most likely to be given to people aged 60 years and older (26% or 10 of the 39 people in this age group) followed by people aged under 35 years (26% or 12 of the 47 people in this age group).

Conversely, wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment were least common for those aged 40–44 years (6% or 2 of the 31 people in this age group).

Figure 5: The percentage of people who received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment for indecent act with a child under 16 by age group, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Age group (years) Percentage
Younger than 35 25.5
35 to 39 14.3
40 to 44 6.5
45 to 49 20.0
50 to 54 11.8
55 to 59 19.0
60 or older 25.6

Partially suspended sentences of imprisonment

As shown in Figure 6, partially suspended sentences of imprisonment were most likely to be given to people aged 55–59 years (24% or 5 of the 21 people in this age group).

Conversely, partially suspended sentences of imprisonment were least common for those aged under 35 years (2% or 1 of the 47 people in this age group).

Figure 6: The percentage of people who received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment for indecent act with a child under 16 by age group, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Age group (years) Percentage
Younger than 35 2.1
35 to 39 7.1
40 to 44 22.6
45 to 49 13.3
50 to 54 17.6
55 to 59 23.8
60 or older 10.3

Community-based orders

As shown in Figure 7, community-based orders were most likely to be given to people aged under 35 years (15% or 7 of the 47 people in this age group).

Conversely, community-based orders were not given to anyone between the ages of 45 and 54 or anyone aged 60 or older.

Figure 7: The percentage of people who received a community-based order for indecent act with a child under 16 by age group, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Age group (years) Percentage
Younger than 35 14.9
35 to 39 7.1
40 to 44 3.2
45 to 49 0.0
50 to 54 0.0
55 to 59 4.8
60 or older 0.0

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 indecent act with a child under 16 must be considered in this broader context. The following sections analyse the use of imprisonment for the offence of indecent act with a child under 16 from 2007–08 to 2011–12.

Principal sentence of imprisonment

A total of 100 people received a principal sentence of imprisonment for indecent act with a child under 16 between 2007–08 and 2011–12.

Figure 8 shows these people by the length of their imprisonment term. Imprisonment terms ranged from 2 months to 7 years, while the median length of imprisonment was 1 year and 9 months (meaning that half of the imprisonment terms were shorter than 1 year and 9 months and half were longer).

The most common length of imprisonment imposed was 1 year to less than 2 years (40 people).

Figure 8: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for indecent act with a child under 16 by length of imprisonment term, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Imprisonment length Number
Less than 1 year 11
1 to less than 2 years 40
2 to less than 3 years 30
3 to less than 4 years 13
4 to less than 5 years 3
5 to less than 6 years 1
6 to less than 7 years 1
7 to less than 8 years 1

Expanding the analysis from principal sentences of imprisonment to all charges that received imprisonment, there were 1,690 charges of indecent act with a child under 16 sentenced to imprisonment between 2007–08 and 2011–12. Imprisonment lengths for indecent act with a child under 16 ranged from 7 days to 7 years while the median was 1 year. The most common length of imprisonment was 1 year to less than 2 years (741 of 1,690 charges or 44%).

Returning to principal sentences of imprisonment, as shown in Figure 9, the average length of imprisonment term imposed on people sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16 ranged from 1 year and 6 months in 2007–08 to 2 years and 5 months in 2008–09.

From 2007–08 to 2011–12, the majority of people who received a term of imprisonment for indecent act with a child under 16 were men (98 people or 98.0%). Over the five-year period, men received a slightly shorter average term of imprisonment (1 year and 10 months compared with 2 years and 3 months for women), although the number of women who received imprisonment was very small (2 women).

Figure 9: The average length of imprisonment term imposed on people sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Financial year Average length of imprisonment
2007–08 1 year, 6 months
2008–09 2 years, 5 months
2009–10 2 years
2010–11 1 year, 9 months
2011–12 1 year, 7 months

Other offences finalised at the same hearing

Often people prosecuted for indecent act with a child under 16 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 indecent act with a child under 16.

Figure 10 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of indecent act with a child under 16 by the total number of offences for which sentences were set. The number of sentenced offences per person ranged from 1 to 61, while the median was 3 offences. There were 32 people (17.4%) sentenced for the single offence of indecent act with a child under 16. The average number of offences per person sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16 was 4.45.

Figure 10: The number of people sentenced for the principal offence of indecent act with a child under 16 by the number of sentenced offences per person, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Number of offences Number of people
1 32
2 44
3 38
4 14
5 to 9 43
10 to 19 11
20 to 49 1
50 or more 1

While Figure 10 presents the number of sentenced offences for those sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16, 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, 19 of the 184 people (10.3%) also received sentences for indecent assault. On average, they were sentenced for 1.84 counts of indecent assault.

Table 3: The number and percentage of people sentenced for the principal offence of indecent act with a child under 16 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 Indecent act with a child under 16 184 100.0 3.38
2 Indecent assault 19 10.3 1.84
3 Sexual penetration with a child aged under 16 16 8.7 3.00
4 Possess child pornography 9 4.9 1.00
5 Make/produce child pornography 8 4.3 2.00
6 Procure minor for purposes of child pornography 5 2.7 1.40
7 Common law assault 5 2.7 1.20
8 Stalking 4 2.2 1.00
9 Indecent act with child aged 16 to 17 under care, supervision or authority 3 1.6 2.67
10 Gross indecency with female under 16 3 1.6 2.67
  People sentenced 184 100.0 4.45

Total effective sentence of imprisonment

There were 97 people given a total effective sentence of imprisonment.[15] Figure 11 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for indecent act with a child under 16 between 2007–08 and 2011–12 by length of total effective sentence. The length of total effective sentences ranged from 3 months to 14 years and 6 months, while the median total effective length of imprisonment was 3 years (meaning that half of the total effective sentence lengths were below 3 years and half were above).

The most common total effective imprisonment length was 3 to less than 4 years (25 people).

Figure 11: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for indecent act with a child under 16 by length of total effective imprisonment term, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Total effective imprisonment length Number of people
Less than 1 year 5
1 to less than 2 years 20
2 to less than 3 years 18
3 to less than 4 years 25
4 to less than 5 years 12
5 to less than 6 years 6
6 to less than 7 years 5
7 to less than 8 years 0
8 to less than 9 years 1
9 to less than 10 years 1
10 to less than 11 years 1
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 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 indecent act with a child under 16. Sentences and non-parole periods must be considered in this broader context.

Of the 97 people who were sentenced to imprisonment for indecent act with a child under 16, 92 were eligible to have a non-parole period fixed.[16] Of these people, 86 were given a non-parole period (93%).[17] Figure 12 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for indecent act with a child under 16 between 2007–08 and 2011–12 by length of non-parole period. Non-parole periods ranged from 4 months to 10 years and 6 months, while the median length of the non-parole period was 1 year and 6 months (meaning that half of the non-parole periods were below 1 year and 6 months and half were above).

The most common non-parole period imposed was 1 year to less than 2 years (36 people).

Figure 12: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for indecent act with a child under 16 by length of non-parole period, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Non-parole period Number of people
Less than 1 year 15
1 to less than 2 years 36
2 to less than 3 years 17
3 to less than 4 years 7
4 to less than 5 years 5
5 to less than 6 years 1
6 to less than 7 years 1
7 to less than 8 years 1
8 to less than 9 years 0
9 to less than 10 years 0
10 to less than 11 years 3
No non-parole period 7

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.

From 2007–08 to 2011–12, the average length of total effective sentences for all people ranged from 2 years and 4 months in 2011–12 to 4 years and 3 months in 2009–10. Over the same period, the average length of non-parole periods ranged from 1 year and 6 months in 2007–08 and 2011–12 to 2 years and 11 months in 2009–10.

Figure 13: The average total effective sentence and the average non-parole period imposed on people sentenced to imprisonment for indecent act with a child under 16, 2007–08 to 2011–12

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

Total effective sentence of imprisonment by non-parole period

While Figures 12 and 13 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 indecent act with a child under 16 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 3 years with a non-parole period of 1 year (15 people – as represented by the largest bubble on the chart). The length of imprisonment ranged from 3 months with no non-parole period to 14 years and 6 months with a non-parole period of 10 years and 6 months.

Figure 14: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for indecent act with a child under 16 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 5
1 to less than 2 years No non-parole period 1
1 to less than 2 years Less than 1 year 12
1 to less than 2 years 1 to less than 2 years 6
2 to less than 3 years No non-parole period 1
2 to less than 3 years Less than 1 year 3
2 to less than 3 years 1 to less than 2 years 13
3 to less than 4 years 1 to less than 2 years 15
3 to less than 4 years 2 to less than 3 years 9
4 to less than 5 years 1 to less than 2 years 2
4 to less than 5 years 2 to less than 3 years 6
4 to less than 5 years 3 to less than 4 years 4
5 to less than 6 years 2 to less than 3 years 2
5 to less than 6 years 3 to less than 4 years 3
5 to less than 6 years 4 to less than 5 years 1
6 to less than 7 years 4 to less than 5 years 4
6 to less than 7 years 5 to less than 6 years 1
9 to less than 10 years 6 to less than 7 years 1
10 to less than 11 years 7 to less than 8 years 1
12 to less than 13 years 10 to less than 11 years 2
14 to less than 15 years 10 to less than 11 years 1
Total 93

Suspended sentences of imprisonment

There were 61 people given a suspended sentence of imprisonment as their total effective sentence. Of these, 35 people had their prison sentence wholly suspended and 26 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 6 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 8 months’ imprisonment with 4 months suspended to 3 years’ imprisonment with 1 year and 6 months suspended. The most common partially suspended sentence combinations were 2 years with 1 year and 2 months suspended and 2 years with 1 year and 6 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 indecent act with a child under 16 by sentence type and length, 2007–08 to 2011–12

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

Community-based orders

There were 10 people given a community-based order as their total effective sentence.

The lengths of community-based orders for indecent act with a child under 16 ranged from 6 months to 2 years, while the most common length was 1 year and 6 months (4 people).

Figure 16: The number of people sentenced to a community-based order for indecent act with a child under 16 by length of order imposed, 2007–08 to 2011–12

Sentence length Number of people
6 months 1
1 year 2
1 year and 6 months 4
2 years 3

Community correction orders

Community correction orders were introduced in early 2012 to replace community-based orders and intensive correction orders. A feature of community correction orders is that the sentence length on the order can be as high as the statutory maximum of the offence being sentenced.

From 2007–08 to 2011–12, 5 people were given a community correction order for the principal offence of committing an indecent act with a child under 16. The length of community correction orders ranged from 1 year to 3 years. The most commonly used length was 2 years, which was given to 2 of the 5 people to receive a community correction order.

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, 2 people sentenced for a principal offence of committing an indecent act with a child under 16 in the period 2007–08 to 2011–12 successfully appealed their convictions. Both of these people were granted a retrial. Thus, the number of people sentenced from 2007–08 to 2011–12 for a principal offence of committing an indecent act with a child under 16 is reduced to 182 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 9 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 6 years and 6 months, which decreased to 8 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 5 years and 6 months.

The principal sentence changed for 1 person as a result of a successful appeal. This person had their principal sentence of imprisonment reduced from 1 year and 3 months to 1 year.

With the original sentencing data revised to incorporate appeal outcomes, the adjusted longest total effective imprisonment term was unchanged at 14 years and 6 months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 10 years and 6 months while the adjusted longest principal sentence of imprisonment was also unchanged at 7 years.

Summary

Between 2007–08 and 2011–12, 184 people were sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16 in the higher courts. Over this period, the majority of people sentenced were men (98%), while 78% were between the ages of 20 and 59.

Around half of the people sentenced for indecent act with a child under 16 received a period of imprisonment (54%), while 19% received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment and 13% received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment.

Imprisonment was most common for those aged between 35 and 39 years, wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment were more common for people either younger than 35 years or 60 years and older while partially suspended sentences of imprisonment were most common for those aged between 40 and 44 years or 55 and 59 years.

Each of the 184 people was sentenced for an average of 4.45 offences, including 3.38 offences of indecent act with a child under 16. The most common offence finalised in conjunction with indecent act with a child under 16 was indecent assault (10.3% of all cases). The number and range of offences for which people with a principal offence of indecent act with a child under 16 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, while the median principal imprisonment length was 1 year and 9 months.

Total effective imprisonment lengths ranged from 3 months with no non-parole period to 14 years and 6 months with a non-parole period of 10 years and 6 months. The most common sentence of imprisonment was 3 years with a non-parole period of 1 year.

The most common partially suspended sentence lengths were 2 years with 1 year and 2 months suspended and 2 years with 1 year and 6 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 lengths and principal imprisonment sentence lengths remains 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. 113, which describes sentencing trends for indecent act with a child under 16 between 2005–06 and 2009–10.

[2] The information source for sentencing outcomes for indecent act with a child under 16 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 47.

[5] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 47(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.

[7] Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) s 28. 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.

[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 mix (imprisonment and community-based order).

[11] Committing an indecent act with a child under the age of 16 is not defined as a ‘serious’ of ‘significant’ offence for the purposes of giving out a wholly suspended sentence under section 27(2B) of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic).

[12] Age is 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] Of the 100 people who were given a principal sentence of imprisonment, 97 were also given a total effective sentence of imprisonment. There were 3 people who were given imprisonment as the principal sentence for indecent act with a child under 16 and a partially suspended sentence as a total effective sentence.

[16] A total of 5 people were not eligible for parole because they were given a total effective sentence length of less than 1 year.

[17] Four 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.

[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.