Sentencing Trends for Causing Serious Injury Recklessly in the Higher Courts of Victoria 2008-09 to 2012-13

Sentencing Snapshot 157
Date of Publication: 
26 June 2014

Sentencing Snapshot no. 157 describes sentencing outcomes for the offence of causing serious injury recklessly in the County and Supreme Courts of Victoria between 2008-09 and 2012-13.

The most recent Sentencing Snapshot for this offence is Snapshot no. 214.

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, 2014

Introduction

This Sentencing Snapshot describes sentencing outcomes[1] for the offence of causing serious injury recklessly and details the age and gender[2] of people sentenced for this offence in the County and Supreme Courts of Victoria between 2008–09 and 2012–13.[3] Except where otherwise noted, the data represent sentences imposed at first instance.

A person who recklessly causes serious injury to another person without lawful excuse is guilty of this offence.  Recklessness requires foresight on the part of the accused of the probability that injury will occur as a consequence of his or her actions.  ‘Injury’ includes unconsciousness, hysteria, pain, and any substantial impairment of bodily function. ‘Serious injury’ includes a combination of injuries. These definitions are not exhaustive. Causing serious injury recklessly is an indictable offence that carries a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of 1,800 penalty units. Indictable offences are more serious offences triable before a judge and jury in the County or Supreme Court. Causing serious injury recklessly is also triable summarily by the Magistrates’ Court, if the Magistrates’ Court considers it appropriate and the defendant consents.

Causing serious injury recklessly was the principal offence[4] in 5.9% of cases sentenced in the higher courts between 2008–09 and 2012–13.

People sentenced

From 2008–09 to 2012–13, 579 people were sentenced in the higher courts for a principal offence of causing serious injury recklessly. These people are the focus of this Snapshot. However, an additional 171 people were sentenced in cases that involved causing serious injury recklessly but where some other offence was the principal offence. In total, 750 people were sentenced in the higher courts for 803 charges of causing serious injury recklessly.

Figure 1 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of causing serious injury recklessly by gender. Over the five years depicted, the majority of those sentenced were men (93.4% or 541 of the 579 people), including 102 of the 107 people sentenced in 2012–13.

Figure 1: The number of people sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly by gender, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Gender
Financial year Male Female Total
2008-09 112 10 122
2009-10 104 8 112
2010-11 115 10 125
2011-12 108 5 113
2012-13 102 5 107
Total 541 38 579

Sentence types and trends

Figure 2 shows the total number of people sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly 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.[5]  Over the five-year period, 67% of people were given an immediate custodial sentence.  This peaked at 78% (83 of 107) in 2012–13 after a low of 53% (65 of 122) in 2008–09.

Figure 2: The number of people sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly and the number who received an immediate custodial sentence, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Sentence type
Financial year Custodial Non-custodial Total
2008-09 65 57 122
2009-10 76 36 112
2010-11 89 36 125
2011-12 76 37 113
2012-13 83 24 107
total 389 190 579

Table 1 shows the number of people sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly from 2008–09 to 2012–13 by the types of sentences imposed.

Over the five-year period, around half of the people sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly received a period of imprisonment (53% or 304 of 579 people), while 25% received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment and 8% received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment.

The number and percentage of people receiving a sentence of imprisonment were lowest during 2008–09 (47 of 122 people or 39%). The number of people sentenced to imprisonment was highest in 2010–11 (69 people) while the percentage was highest during 2012–13 (62% or 66 of 107 people). 

The number and percentage of people receiving a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment were lowest during 2012–13 (11 of 107 people or 10%) and highest during 2008–09 (45 of 122 people or 37%). 

The number and percentage of people given a partially suspended sentence were lowest in 2012–13 (3 of 107 people or 3%). The number of people given partially suspended sentences of imprisonment was highest during 2008–09 and 2010–11 (13 people) while the percentage of people given partially suspended sentences of imprisonment was highest in 2008–09 (11% or 13 of 122 people).

Table 1: The number and percentage of people sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly by sentence type, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Sentence type 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13 Total
Imprisonment 47 (39%) 60 (54%) 69 (55%) 62 (55%) 66 (62%) 304 (53%)
Wholly suspended sentence 45 (37%) 30 (27%) 29 (23%) 27 (24%) 11 (10%) 142 (25%)
Partially suspended sentence 13 (11%) 9 (8%) 13 (10%) 9 (8%) 3 (3%) 47 (8%)
Youth justice centre order 3 (2%) 5 (4%) 7 (6%) 4 (4%) 12 (11%) 31 (5%)
Community correction order 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 8 (7%) 12 (11%) 20 (3%)
Community-based order 7 (6%) 2 (2%) 6 (5%) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 16 (3%)
Mix (wholly suspended sentence and fine) 2 (2%) 1 (<1%) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 4 (<1%)
Non-custodial supervision order 1 (<1%) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 3 (<1%)
Mix (imprisonment and community-based order) 2 (2%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 3 (<1%)
Intensive correction order 2 (2%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 3 (<1%)
Mix (imprisonment and community correction order) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 2 (2%) 2 (<1%)
Adjourned undertaking with conviction 0 (–) 2 (2%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 2 (<1%)
Hospital security order 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Custodial supervision order 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
People sentenced 122 112 125 113 107 579

Age and gender of people sentenced

Figure 3 shows the gender of people sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly grouped by their age[6] between 2008–09 and 2012–13.  The average age of people sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly was 30 years and 11 months.  Men sentenced over this period were slightly older than women (an average age of 30 years and 11 months for men compared with 30 years and 7 months for women).  There were no juveniles sentenced over this period.[7]

Figure 3: The number of people sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly by gender and age, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Gender
Age group (years) Male Female
<20 22 1
20-24 159 8
25-29 119 10
30-34 70 8
35-39 67 5
40-44 36 5
45-49 37 0
50+ 31 1

Sentence types by gender

Table 2 shows the types of sentences imposed for causing serious injury recklessly grouped by gender.  As shown, a higher percentage of men received a period of imprisonment (54.0% compared with 31.6% of women) and a youth justice centre order (5.7% compared with no women).  Conversely, a higher percentage of women received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment (50.0% compared with 22.7% of men).

Table 2: The number and percentage of people sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly by sentence type and gender, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Sentence type Male Female
Imprisonment 292 (54%) 12 (32%)
Wholly suspended sentence 123 (23%) 19 (50%)
Partially suspended sentence 44 (8%) 3 (8%)
Youth justice centre order 31 (6%) 0 (–)
Community correction order 18 (3%) 2 (5%)
Community-based order 15 (3%) 1 (3%)
Mix (wholly suspended sentence and fine) 4 (<1%) 0 (–)
Non-custodial supervision order 3 (<1%) 0 (–)
Mix (imprisonment and community-based order) 2 (<1%) 1 (3%)
Intensive correction order 3 (<1%) 0 (–)
Mix (imprisonment and community correction order) 2 (<1%) 0 (–)
Adjourned undertaking with conviction 2 (<1%) 0 (–)
Hospital security order 1 (<1%) 0 (–)
Custodial supervision order 1 (<1%) 0 (–)
People sentenced 541 38

Sentence types by age

As shown in Table 1, 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 offenders’ age group.

Imprisonment

As shown in Figure 4, sentences of imprisonment were most likely to be given to people aged 30–34 years (64% or 50 of the 78 people in this age group).

Conversely, sentences of imprisonment were least common for those aged under 20 years (17% or 4 of the 23 people in this age group).

Figure 4: The percentage of people who received a period of imprisonment for causing serious injury recklessly by age group, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Age group (years) Percentage
<20 17.4
20-24 39.5
25-29 63.6
30-34 64.1
35-39 59.7
40-44 56.1
45-49 56.8
50+ 46.9

Wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment

As shown in Figure 5, wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment were most likely to be given to people aged 50 years and older (38% or 12 of the 32 people in this age group).

Conversely, wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment were least common for those aged 40–44 years (17% or 7 of the 41 people in this age group) and people aged under 20 years (17% or 4 of the 23 people in this age group).

Figure 5: The percentage of people who received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment for causing serious injury recklessly by age group, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Age group (years) Percentage
<20 17.4
20-24 24.6
25-29 24.8
30-34 21.8
35-39 25.0
40-44 17.1
45-49 29.7
50+ 37.5

Partially suspended sentences of imprisonment

As shown in Figure 6, partially suspended sentences of imprisonment were most likely to be given to people aged 40–44 years (15% or 6 of the 41 people in this age group).

Conversely, none of the 23 people aged under 20 years received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment.

Figure 6: The percentage of people who received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment for causing serious injury recklessly by age group, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Age group (years) Percentage
<20 0.0
20-24 9.6
25-29 6.2
30-34 6.4
35-39 11.1
40-44 14.6
45-49 5.4
50+ 6.3

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.[8]

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 causing serious injury recklessly must be considered in this broader context. The following sections analyse the use of imprisonment for the offence of causing serious injury recklessly from 2008–09 to 2012–13.

Principal sentence of imprisonment

A total of 309 people received a principal sentence of imprisonment for causing serious injury recklessly between 2008–09 and 2012–13.

Figure 7 shows these people by the length of their imprisonment term. Imprisonment terms ranged from 3 months to 7 years (6 years after appeals are taken into account), while the median length of imprisonment was 2 years and 6 months (meaning that half of the imprisonment terms were shorter than 2 years and 6 months and half were longer).

The most common range of imprisonment length was 2 to less than 3 years (109 people).

Figure 7: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for causing serious injury recklessly by length of imprisonment term, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Imprisonment length Number
Less than 1 year 7
1 year to less than 2 years 56
2 years to less than 3 years 109
3 years to less than 4 years 85
4 years to less than 5 years 33
5 years to less than 6 years 11
6 years to less than 7 years 7
7 years to less than 8 years 1
People sentenced 309

Expanding the analysis from principal sentences of imprisonment to all charges that received imprisonment, there were 463 charges of causing serious injury recklessly sentenced to imprisonment between 2008–09 and 2012–13. Imprisonment lengths ranged from 2 months to 7 years while the median was 2 years and 6 months and the most common range of imprisonment length was 2 to less than 3 years (158 charges).

Returning to principal sentences of imprisonment, as shown in Figure 8, the average length of imprisonment term imposed on people sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly ranged from 2 years and 5 months in 2008–09 to 2 years and 9 months in 2009-10 and 2012–13.

From 2008–09 to 2012–13, the majority of people who received a term of imprisonment for causing serious injury recklessly were men (296 people or 95.8%).  Over the five-year period, men received a shorter average term of imprisonment (2 years and 8 months compared with 3 years for women).

Figure 8: The average length of imprisonment term imposed on people sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Financial year Average length of imprisonment
2008-09 2 years, 5 months
2009-10 2 years, 9 months
2010-11 2 years, 8 months
2011-12 2 years, 8 months
2012-13 2 years, 9 months

Other offences finalised at the same hearing

Often people prosecuted for causing serious injury recklessly 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 causing serious injury recklessly.

Figure 9 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of causing serious injury recklessly by the total number of offences for which sentences were set.  The number of sentenced offences per person ranged from 1 to 32, while the median was 1 offence.  There were 300 people (51.8%) sentenced for the single offence of causing serious injury recklessly.  The average (mean) number of offences per person sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly was 2.12.

Figure 9: The number of people sentenced for the principal offence of causing serious injury recklessly by the number of sentenced offences per person, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Number of offences Number of people
1 300
2 146
3 57
4 28
5 to 9 42
10 to 19 5
20+ 1

While Figure 9 presents the number of sentenced offences for those sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly, 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, 48 of the total 579 people (8.3%) also received sentences for causing injury recklessly.  On average, they were sentenced for 1.35 counts of causing injury recklessly.

Table 3: The number and percentage of people sentenced for the principal offence of causing serious injury recklessly by the most common offences that were sentenced and the average number of those offences that were sentenced, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Offence No. % Average
1 Causing serious injury recklessly 579 100.0 1.06
2 Causing injury recklessly 48 8.3 1.35
3 Affray 38 6.6 1.00
4 Common law assault 38 6.6 1.37
5 Theft 37 6.4 1.57
6 Intentionally damage/destroy property 33 5.7 1.24
7 Aggravated burglary 33 5.7 1.06
8 Make threat to kill 23 4.0 1.22
9 Causing injury intentionally 20 3.5 1.40
10 Armed robbery 18 3.1 1.50
People sentenced 579 100.0 2.12

Total effective sentence of imprisonment

There were 309 people given a total effective sentence of imprisonment.[9]  Figure 10 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for causing serious injury recklessly between 2008–09 and 2012–13 by length of total effective sentence.  The length of total effective sentences ranged from 3 months to 8 years, 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 range of total effective imprisonment length was 2 to less than 3 years (97 people).

Figure 10: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for causing serious injury recklessly by length of total effective imprisonment term, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Total effective imprisonment length Number of people
Less than 1 year 7
1 year to less than 2 years 42
2 years to less than 3 years 97
3 years to less than 4 years 78
4 years to less than 5 years 47
5 years to less than 6 years 22
6 years to less than 7 years 12
7 years to less than 8 years 3
8 years to less than 9 years 1
People sentenced 309

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 causing serious injury recklessly.  Sentences and non-parole periods must be considered in this broader context.

Of the 309 people who were sentenced to imprisonment for causing serious injury recklessly, 302 were eligible to have a non-parole period fixed.[10]  Of these people, 295 were given a non-parole period (98%).[11]   Figure 11 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for causing serious injury recklessly between 2008–09 and 2012–13 by length of non-parole period.  Non-parole periods ranged from 3 months to 5 years and 4 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 range of non-parole period imposed was 1 to less than 2 years (138 people).

Figure 11: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for causing serious injury recklessly by length of non-parole period, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Non-parole period Number of people
Less than 1 year 43
1 year to less than 2 years 138
2 years to less than 3 years 72
3 years to less than 4 years 30
4 years to less than 5 years 11
5 years to less than 6 years 1
No NPP 10
Total 305

Total effective sentences of imprisonment and non-parole periods

Figure 12 presents the average (mean) length of total effective sentences of imprisonment compared with the average length of non-parole periods for all people from 2008–09 to 2012–13.

From 2008–09 to 2012–13, the average length of total effective sentences for all people ranged from 2 years and 10 months in 2008–09 to 3 years and 2 months in 2009–10, 2011–12, and 2012–13.  Over the same period, the average length of non-parole periods ranged from 1 year and 7 months in 2008–09 and 2010–11 to 1 year and 10 months in 2009–10 and 2012–13.

Over the five-year period, the average total effective imprisonment length for men was 3 years and 1 month, while for women it was 3 years and 3 months. The average non-parole period was 1 year and 8 months for both men and women in this period.

Figure 12: The average total effective sentence and the average non-parole period imposed on people sentenced to imprisonment for causing serious injury recklessly, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Financial year Total effective sentence length Non-parole period
2008-09 2 years, 10 months 1 year, 7 months
2009-10 3 years, 2 months 1 year, 10 months
2010-11 2 years, 11 months 1 year, 7 months
2011-12 3 years, 2 months 1 year, 9 months
2012-13 3 years, 2 months 1 year, 10 months

Total effective sentence of imprisonment by non-parole period

While Figures 10 and 11 present the lengths of the total effective sentences and non-parole periods separately, Figure 13 combines the two methods of describing sentence lengths in the one diagram.  It shows the total effective sentence and non-parole period for causing serious injury recklessly 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 13.

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 (85 people – as represented by the largest bubble on the chart).  The length of imprisonment ranged from 3 months with no non-parole period to 8 years with a non-parole period of 5 years and 4 months.

Figure 13: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for causing serious injury recklessly by the total effective sentence and the non-parole period imposed, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Total effective sentence category Non-parole period category Total
Less than 1 year No NPP 7
1 to less than 2 years No NPP 2
to less than 2 years Less than 1 year 31
to less than 2 years to less than 2 years 8
2 to less than 3 years Less than 1 year 11
2 to less than 3 years to less than 2 years 85
2 to less than 3 years 2 to less than 3 years 1
3 to less than 4 years Less than 1 year 1
3 to less than 4 years to less than 2 years 39
3 to less than 4 years 2 to less than 3 years 37
4 to less than 5 years to less than 2 years 6
4 to less than 5 years 2 to less than 3 years 29
4 to less than 5 years 3 to less than 4 years 11
5 to less than 6 years No NPP 1
5 to less than 6 years 2 to less than 3 years 5
5 to less than 6 years 3 to less than 4 years 16
6 to less than 7 years 3 to less than 4 years 3
6 to less than 7 years 4 to less than 5 years 8
7 to less than 8 years 4 to less than 5 years 3
8 to less than 9 years 5 to less than 6 years 1
People sentenced 305

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

Suspended sentences of imprisonment

There were 193 people given a suspended sentence of imprisonment as their total effective sentence.  Of these, 146 people had their prison sentence wholly suspended and 47 received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment.  Figure 14 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 14.

Wholly suspended sentence lengths ranged from 2 months to 3 years.  The most common wholly suspended sentence length was 2 years (30 people – as represented by the largest green bubble on the chart).

The most common partially suspended sentence combination was 2 years with 1 year and 6 months suspended (7 people – as represented by the largest grey bubble on the chart).

Figure 14: The number of people given a wholly or partially suspended sentence of imprisonment for causing serious injury recklessly by sentence type and length, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Wholly suspended sentences
Wholly suspended sentence length (months) No. of people
2 1
4 1
6 7
7 1
8 1
9 7
12 16
13 1
14 1
15 8
16 2
18 27
20 3
21 3
22 3
24 30
27 5
28 1
30 16
32 3
33 1
34 1
36 7
People sentenced 146

Partially suspended sentences
Imprisonment sentence length (months) Suspended period (months) No. of people
8 5 1
12 6 2
12 9 1
13 4 1
14 9 1
15 10 2
16 12 1
18 6 1
18 11 1
18 12 2
18 14 1
18 15 1
18 17 2
20 11 1
21 15 2
24 3 1
24 12 1
24 15 3
24 16 1
24 18 7
24 20 1
24 21 1
27 12 1
30 18 1
30 21 2
30 24 1
33 18 1
36 5 1
36 21 1
36 24 1
36 26 2
36 35 1
People sentenced 47

Community-based orders

There were 16 people given a community-based order as their total effective sentence.

The length of community-based orders for causing serious injury recklessly ranged from 1 year to 2 years, while the most common length was 2 years (7 people).

Figure 15: The number of people sentenced to a community-based order for causing serious injury recklessly by length of order imposed, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Length of order Number of people
1 year 5
1 year and 3 months 3
1 year and 6 months 1
2 years 7
People sentenced 16

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 2008–09 to 2012–13, 20 people sentenced for the principal offence of causing serious injury recklessly were given a community correction order. The length of community correction orders ranged from 1 year to 4 years. The most commonly used community correction order length was 2 years (given to 7 people or 35%).

Fines

This analysis includes all fines that were imposed for cases where causing serious injury recklessly was the principal offence.  Fines were imposed on 29 people.

The fine amount imposed ranged from $200 to $5,000, with a median of $500 (meaning that half of the values fell below $500 and half of the values were above $500).

The average (mean) fine amount was $959.  The average fine amount imposed against the 27 males was $993, much higher than the average fine for the 2 females ($500).

Figure 16: The number of people who received a fine for causing serious injury recklessly by fine amount, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Fine amount Number of people
$1-$199 1
$200-$399 13
$400-$599 3
$600-$799 1
$800-$999 3
$1000-$1199 2
$1200-$1399 0
$1400-$1599 1
$1600+ 5
People sentenced 29

Appeals

A sentence imposed on a person may be appealed[12] 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 2013, 3 people sentenced for a principal offence of causing serious injury recklessly in the period 2008–09 to 2012–13 successfully appealed their conviction (2 retrials were ordered on imprisonment sentences, and a wholly suspended sentence was quashed). Thus, the number of people sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly in this period was reduced to 576 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 17 people. Twelve 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 7 years, which decreased to 5 years. Four successful appeals were made by the Crown.

The principal sentence changed for 13 people as a result of a successful appeal. The longest principal sentence of imprisonment reduced was 7 years, which decreased to 5 years. The only principal sentence of imprisonment to increase changed from 2 years to 3 years and 4 months.

With the original sentencing data revised to incorporate appeal outcomes, the adjusted longest total effective imprisonment term was unchanged at 8 years. The adjusted longest non-parole period was unchanged at 5 years and 4 months.

The adjusted longest principal sentence of imprisonment was changed at 6 years. 

Summary

Between 2008–09 and 2012–13, 579 people were sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly in the higher courts.  Over this period, the majority of people sentenced were men (93%), while 94% were between the age of 18 and 50 years. 

Around half of the people sentenced for causing serious injury recklessly received a period of imprisonment (53%), while 25% received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment and 8% received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment.

Men were more likely than women to be sentenced to a period of imprisonment or a youth justice centre order.  Conversely, women were more likely to be sentenced to a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment.

Imprisonment was more common for those aged between 25 and 40 years and wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment were more common for those older than 50 years of age.

Each of the 579 people was sentenced for an average of 2.12 offences, including 1.06 offences of causing serious injury recklessly.  The most common offence finalised in conjunction with causing serious injury recklessly was causing injury recklessly (8.3% of all cases).  The number and range of offences for which people with a principal offence of causing serious injury recklessly 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 2 years and 6 months.

Total effective imprisonment lengths ranged from 3 months with no non-parole period to 8 years with a non-parole period of 5 years and 4 months.  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 2 years with 1 year and 6 months suspended, while the most common wholly suspended sentence length was 2 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 was unchanged at 3 months to 8 years while the range of principal imprisonment sentence length changed to 3 months to 6 years.

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. 126, which describes sentencing trends for causing serious injury recklessly between 2004–05 and 2008–09.

[2] The information source for sentencing outcomes for causing serious injury recklessly 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] 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.

[5] Immediate custodial sentence includes imprisonment, partially suspended sentence, youth justice centre order, mix (imprisonment and community-based order), mix (imprisonment and community correction order), hospital security order, and custodial supervision order.

[6] Age is as at the time of sentencing.  

[7] 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.

[8] Refer to Endnote 4.

[9] All of the 309 people who were sentenced to imprisonment as the principal sentence were also given imprisonment as the total effective sentence.

[10] A total of 7 people were not eligible for parole because they were given a total effective sentence length of less than one year.

[11] 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 3 people who were eligible for a non-parole period.

[12] 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 (external link opens in a new window).