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

Sentencing Snapshot 158
Date of Publication: 
26 June 2014

Sentencing Snapshot no. 158 describes sentencing outcomes for the offence of causing injury intentionally 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. 215.

You can also access 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 injury intentionally 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.

The offence applies to a person who intentionally causes injury to another person without lawful excuse and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of 1,200 penalty units. ‘Injury’ includes unconsciousness, hysteria, pain, and any substantial impairment of bodily function. This definition is not exhaustive. This offence is indictable but can also be tried summarily by the Magistrates’ Court, if the Magistrates’ Court considers it appropriate and the defendant consents. 

Causing injury intentionally was the principal offence[4] in 2.8% of cases sentenced in the higher courts between 2008–09 and 2012–13.

People sentenced

From 2008–09 to 2012–13, 273 people were sentenced in the higher courts for a principal offence of causing injury intentionally. These people are the focus of this Snapshot. However, an additional 440 people were sentenced in cases that involved causing injury intentionally but where some other offence was the principal offence. In total, 713 people were sentenced in the higher courts for 875 charges of causing injury intentionally.

Figure 1 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of causing injury intentionally by gender. Over the five years depicted, the majority of those sentenced were men (92.3% or 252 of the 273 people), including 64 of the 68 people sentenced in 2012–13.

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

Gender
Financial year Male Female Total
2008-09 70 5 75
2009-10 32 4 36
2010-11 50 3 53
2011-12 36 5 41
2012-13 64 4 68
Total 252 21 273

Sentence types and trends

Figure 2 shows the total number of people sentenced for causing injury intentionally 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, 48% of people were given an immediate custodial sentence.  This peaked at 60% (41 of 68) in 2012–13 after a low of 36% (27 of 75) in 2008–09.

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

Sentence type
Financial year Custodial Non-custodial Total
2008-09 27 48 75
2009-10 16 20 36
2010-11 29 24 53
2011-12 17 24 41
2012-13 41 27 68
total 130 143 273

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

Over the five-year period, around one in three people sentenced for causing injury intentionally received a period of imprisonment (32% or 86 of 304 people), while 19% received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment, 11% received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment, and 11% received a community-based order.

The number and percentage of people receiving a sentence of imprisonment were lowest during 2008–09 (7 of 36 people or 19%) and highest during 2012–13 (31 of 68 people or 46%). 

The number of people receiving a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment was lowest during 2009–10 and 2012–13 (6 people) while the percentage was lowest during 2012–13 (6 of 68 people or 9%). The number and percentage of people receiving a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment were highest during 2008–09 (21 or 75 people or 28%).

The number of people given a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment was highest during 2010–11 (8 people) while the percentage was highest during 2009–10 (7 of 36 people or 19%). The number and percentage of people given a partially suspended sentence were lowest during 2011–12 (3 of 41 people or 7%).

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

Sentence type 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13 Total
Imprisonment 16 (21%) 7 (19%) 19 (36%) 13 (32%) 31 (46%) 86 (32%)
Wholly suspended sentence 21 (28%) 6 (17%) 10 (19%) 9 (22%) 6 (9%) 52 (19%)
Partially suspended sentence 7 (9%) 7 (19%) 8 (15%) 3 (7%) 5 (7%) 30 (11%)
Community-based order 14 (19%) 8 (22%) 7 (13%) 1 (2%) 0 (–) 30 (11%)
Community correction order 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 10 (24%) 18 (26%) 28 (10%)
Intensive correction order 2 (3%) 4 (11%) 4 (8%) 1 (2%) 0 (–) 11 (4%)
Non-custodial supervision order 2 (3%) 1 (3%) 2 (4%) 3 (7%) 1 (1%) 9 (3%)
Youth justice centre order 3 (4%) 0 (–) 2 (4%) 0 (–) 3 (4%) 8 (3%)
Fine 7 (9%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (1%) 8 (3%)
Mix (imprisonment and community correction order) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 2 (3%) 2 (<1%)
Mix (imprisonment and community-based order) 0 (–) 2 (6%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 2 (<1%)
Mix (wholly suspended sentence and fine) 0 (–) 1 (3%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Mix (community correction order and aggregate fine) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (1%) 1 (<1%)
Custodial supervision order 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (2%) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Aggregate wholly suspended sentence 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (2%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Aggregate imprisonment 1 (1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Adjourned undertaking without conviction 1 (1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Adjourned undertaking with conviction 1 (1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
People sentenced 75 36 53 41 68 273

Age and gender of people sentenced

Figure 3 shows the gender of people sentenced for causing injury intentionally grouped by their age[6] between 2008–09 and 2012–13.  The average (mean) age of people sentenced for causing injury intentionally was 31 years. Women sentenced over this period were slightly older than men (an average age of 31 years and 1 month for women compared with 30 years and 11 months for men).  There were no juveniles sentenced over this period.[7]

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

Gender
Age group (years) Male Female
<20 17 1
20-24 70 7
25-29 54 3
30-34 36 3
35-39 21 3
40-44 24 1
45-49 15 1
50+ 15 2

Sentence types by gender

Table 2 shows the types of sentences imposed for causing injury intentionally grouped by gender.  As shown, a higher percentage of men received a period of imprisonment (32.1% compared with 23.8% of women), an intensive correction order (4.4% compared with no women), a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment (11.5% compared with 4.8%), and a youth justice centre order (3.2% compared with no women).  Conversely, a higher percentage of women received a community-based order (23.8% compared with 9.9% of men), a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment (23.8% compared with 18.7%), a community correction order (14.3% compared with 9.9%), and an adjourned undertaking without conviction (4.8% compared with no men).

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

Sentence type Male Female
Imprisonment 81 (32%) 5 (24%)
Wholly suspended sentence 47 (19%) 5 (24%)
Partially suspended sentence 29 (12%) 1 (5%)
Community-based order 25 (10%) 5 (24%)
Community correction order 25 (10%) 3 (14%)
Intensive correction order 11 (4%) (–)
Non-custodial supervision order 9 (4%) (–)
Youth justice centre order 8 (3%) (–)
Fine 7 (3%) 1 (5%)
Mix (imprisonment and community correction order) 2 (<1%) (–)
Mix (imprisonment and community-based order) 2 (<1%) (–)
Mix (wholly suspended sentence and fine) 1 (<1%) (–)
Mix (community correction order and aggregate fine) 1 (<1%) (–)
Custodial supervision order 1 (<1%) (–)
Aggregate wholly suspended sentence 1 (<1%)

(–)

Aggregate imprisonment 1 (<1%) (–)
Adjourned undertaking without conviction (–) 1 (5%)
Adjourned undertaking with conviction 1 (<1%) (–)
People sentenced 252 21

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 offenders’ age group.

Imprisonment

As shown in Figure 4, sentences of imprisonment were most likely to be given to people aged 30–34 years (44% or 17 of the 39 people in this age group).

Conversely, sentences of imprisonment were least common for those aged under 20 years (11% or 2 of the 18 people in this age group).

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

Age group (years) Percentage
<20 11.1
20-24 27.3
25-29 35.1
30-34 43.6
35-39 37.5
40-44 40.0
45+ 21.2

Wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment

As shown in Figure 5, wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment were most likely to be given to people aged 30–34 years (26% or 10 of the 39 people in this age group).

Conversely, none of the 18 people aged under 20 years received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment.

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

Age group (years) Percentage
<20 0.0
20-24 15.6
25-29 24.6
30-34 25.6
35-39 20.8
40-44 12.0
45+ 24.2

Partially suspended sentences of imprisonment

As shown in Figure 6, partially suspended sentences of imprisonment were most likely to be given to people aged 35–39 years (21% or 5 of the 24 people in this age group).

Conversely, partially suspended sentences of imprisonment were least common for those aged 25–29 years (5% or 3 of the 57 people in this age group).

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

Age group (years) Percentage
<20 11.1
20-24 10.4
25-29 5.3
30-34 7.7
35-39 20.8
40-44 20.0
45+ 12.1

Community-based orders

As shown in Figure 7, community-based orders were most likely to be given to people aged under 20 years (17% or 3 of the 18 people in this age group).

Conversely, community-based orders were least common for those aged 35–39 years (4% or 1 of the 24 people in this age group).

Figure 7: The percentage of people who received a community-based order for causing injury intentionally by age group, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Age group (years) Percentage
<20 16.7
20-24 14.3
25-29 8.8
30-34 10.3
35-39 4.2
40-44 12.0
45+ 9.1

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

Principal sentence of imprisonment

A total of 90 people received a principal sentence of imprisonment for causing injury intentionally between 2008–09 and 2012–13.

Figure 8 shows these people by the length of their imprisonment term.[9]  Imprisonment terms ranged from 1 month to 4 years and 9 months, while the median length of imprisonment was 1 year and 6 months (meaning that half of the imprisonment terms were shorter than 1 year and 6 months and half were longer). 

The most common range of imprisonment length imposed was 1 year to less than 2 years (34 people).

Figure 8: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for causing injury intentionally by length of imprisonment term, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Imprisonment length Number
Less than 1 year 24
1 year to less than 2 years 34
2 years to less than 3 years 18
3 years to less than 4 years 11
4 years to less than 5 years 3
People sentenced 90

Expanding the analysis from principal sentences of imprisonment to all charges that received imprisonment, there were 456 charges of causing injury intentionally sentenced to imprisonment between 2008–09 and 2012–13. Imprisonment lengths for causing injury intentionally ranged from 1 month to 4 years and 9 months while the median was 1 year and the most common range of imprisonment length was 1 year to less than 2 years (210 of 456 charges or 46%).

Returning to principal sentences of imprisonment, as shown in Figure 9, the average length of imprisonment term imposed on people sentenced for causing injury intentionally ranged from 1 year and 2 months in 2009–10 to 1 year and 11 months in 2010–11.

From 2008–09 to 2012–13, the majority of people who received a term of imprisonment for causing injury intentionally were men (85 people or 94.4%). Due to the very small number of women who received imprisonment as a principal sentence for causing injury intentionally (5), data on average imprisonment length by gender are not shown.

Figure 9: The average length of imprisonment term imposed on people sentenced for causing injury intentionally, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Financial year Average length of imprisonment
2008-09 1 years, 8 months
2009-10 1 years, 2 months
2010-11 1 years, 11 months
2011-12 1 years, 8 months
2012-13 1 years, 5 months

Other offences finalised at the same hearing

Often people prosecuted for causing injury intentionally 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 injury intentionally.

Figure 10 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of causing injury intentionally by the total number of offences for which sentences were set.  The number of sentenced offences per person ranged from 1 to 14, while the median was 2 offences.  There were 75 people (27.5%) sentenced for the single offence of causing injury intentionally.  The average number of offences per person sentenced for causing injury intentionally was 2.74

Figure 10: The number of people sentenced for the principal offence of causing injury intentionally by the number of sentenced offences per person, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Number of offences Number of people
1 75
2 88
3 56
4 12
5 to 9 36
10+ 6

While Figure 10 presents the number of sentenced offences for those sentenced for causing injury intentionally, 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, 44 of the total 273 people (16.1%) also received sentences for aggravated burglary.  On average, they were sentenced for 1 count of aggravated burglary.

Table 3: The number and percentage of people sentenced for the principal offence of causing injury intentionally 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 injury intentionally 273 100.0 1.16
2 Aggravated burglary 44 16.1 1.00
3 Affray 36 13.2 1.03
4 Intentionally damage/destroy property 32 11.7 1.25
5 Common law assault 29 10.6 1.59
6 False imprisonment 27 9.9 1.07
7 Make threat to kill 26 9.5 1.27
8 Causing injury recklessly 24 8.8 1.17
9 Theft 23 8.4 1.61
10 Robbery 12 4.4 1.17
People sentenced 273 100.0 2.74

Total effective sentence of imprisonment

There were 91 people given a total effective sentence of imprisonment.[10]  Figure 11 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for causing injury intentionally between 2008–09 and 2012–13 by length of total effective sentence.  The length of total effective sentences ranged from 1 month to 6 years (5 years and 6 months when appeals are taken into account), while the median total effective length of imprisonment was 2 years (meaning that half of the total effective sentence lengths were below 2 years and half were above).

The most common range of total effective imprisonment length was 2 to less than 3 years (25 people).

Figure 11: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for causing injury intentionally by length of total effective imprisonment term, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Total effective imprisonment length Number of people
Less than 1 year 22
1 year to less than 2 years 22
2 years to less than 3 years 25
3 years to less than 4 years 11
4 years to less than 5 years 8
5 years to less than 6 years 2
6 years to less than 7 years 1
People sentenced 91

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 injury intentionally.  Sentences and non-parole periods must be considered in this broader context.

Of the 91 people who were sentenced to imprisonment for causing injury intentionally, 69 were eligible to have a non-parole period fixed.[11]  Of these people, 61 were given a non-parole period (90%).[12]  Figure 12 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for causing injury intentionally between 2008–09 and 2012–13 by length of non-parole period.  Non-parole periods ranged from 5 months to 4 years, while the median length of the non-parole period was 1 year and 4 months (meaning that half of the non-parole periods were below 1 year and 4 months and half were above).  

The most common range of non-parole periods was 1 year to less than 2 years (30 people).

Figure 12: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for causing injury intentionally by length of non-parole period, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Non-parole period Number of people
Less than 1 year 15
1 year to less than 2 years 30
2 years to less than 3 years 11
3 years to less than 4 years 4
4 years to less than 5 years 1
No NPP 29
People sentenced 90

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 2008–09 to 2012–13. 

From 2008–09 to 2012–13, the average (mean) length of total effective sentences for all people ranged from 1 year and 8 months in 2012–13 to 2 years and 5 months in 2011–12.  Over the same period, the average length of non-parole periods ranged from 1 year and 3 months in 2012–13 to 1 year and 8 months in 2008–09 and 2009–10.

Over the five-year period, the majority of people who received a total effective sentence of imprisonment for causing injury intentionally were men (86  people or 94.5%).  Due to the very small number of women who received imprisonment as a principal sentence for causing injury intentionally (5), data on average imprisonment length and average non-parole period by gender are not shown.

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

Financial year Total effective sentence length Non-parole period
2008-09 2 years, 3 months 1 year, 8 months
2009-10 1 years, 9 months 1 year, 8 months
2010-11 2 years, 4 months 1 year, 7 months
2011-12 2 years, 5 months 1 year, 4 months
2012-13 1 year, 8 months 1 year, 3 months

Total effective sentence of imprisonment by non-parole period

While Figures 11 and 12 present the lengths of the total effective sentences and non-parole periods separately, Figure 14 combines the two methods of describing sentence lengths in the one diagram.  It shows the total effective sentence and non-parole period for causing injury intentionally 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 combinations of imprisonment length and non-parole period imposed were less than 1 year with no non-parole period and 2 years with a non-parole period of 1 year (22 people each – as represented by the largest bubbles on the chart).  The length of imprisonment ranged from 1 month with no non-parole period to 6 years with a non-parole period of 4 years. After appeals are taken into account, the longest combination of total effective imprisonment term and non-parole period was 5 years and 6 months imprisonment with a non-parole period of 3 years and 3 months.

Figure 14: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for causing injury intentionally 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 22
1 to less than 2 years No NPP 7
to less than 2 years Less than 1 year 13
to less than 2 years to less than 2 years 2
2 to less than 3 years Less than 1 year 2
to less than 3 years to less than 2 years 22
3 to less than 4 years to less than 2 years 5
3 to less than 4 years to less than 3 years 6
4 to less than 5 years to less than 2 years 1
4 to less than 5 years to less than 3 years 5
4 to less than 5 years 3 to less than 4 years 2
5 to less than 6 years 3 to less than 4 years 2
6 to less than 7 years 4 to less than 5 years 1
People sentenced 90

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

Suspended sentences of imprisonment

There were 85 people given a suspended sentence of imprisonment as their total effective sentence.  Of these, 55 people had their prison sentence wholly suspended and 30 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 2 months to 3 years.  The most common wholly suspended sentence length was 1 year (12 people – as represented by the largest green bubble on the chart).

The partially suspended sentence combinations of 9 months with 6 months suspended, 1 year with 10 months suspended, 1 year and 6 months with 9 months suspended, and 1 year and 9 months with 1 year and 3 months suspended were the most common with 2 people each – as represented by the largest grey bubbles on the chart.

Figure 15: The number of people given a wholly or partially suspended sentence of imprisonment for causing injury intentionally by sentence type and length, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Wholly suspended sentences
Wholly suspended sentence length (months) No. of people
2 1
3 5
4 3
6 7
7 3
8 4
9 2
10 1
12 12
14 2
15 2
16 2
18 2
20 2
24 3
30 1
31 1
36 2
People sentenced 55

Partially suspended sentences
Imprisonment sentence length (months) Suspended period (months) No. of people
9 6 2
10 7 1
12 5 2
12 8 1
12 9 1
12 10 2
14 8 1
15 8 1
15 9 1
15 13 1
17 11 1
17 3 1
18 9 2
18 11 1
19 13 1
20 9 1
21 15 2
21 17 1
22 15 1
22 21 1
24 12 1
24 20 1
27 23 1
30 18 1
36 30 1
People sentenced 30

Community-based orders

There were 30 people given a community-based order as their total effective sentence.

As Figure 16 shows, the length of community-based orders for causing injury intentionally ranged from 1 year to 2 years, while the most common length was 2 years (17 people).

Figure 16: The number of people sentenced to a community-based order for causing injury intentionally by length of order imposed, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Length of order Number
1 year 8
1 year and 3 months 1
1 year and 6 months 4
2 years 17
People sentenced 30

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, 29 people sentenced for the principal offence of causing injury intentionally were given a community correction order. The length of community correction orders ranged from 10 months to 5 years. The most common community correction order length used was 1 year and 6 months (given to 9 people or 31%).

Intensive correction orders

There were 10 people given an intensive correction order as their total effective sentence.

As Figure 17 shows, the length of intensive correction orders for causing injury intentionally ranged from 6 months to 1 year, while the most common length was 1 year (4 people).

Figure 17: The number of people sentenced to an intensive correction order for causing injury intentionally by length of order imposed, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Length of order Number
6 months 3
7 months 1
9 months 2
1 year 4
People sentenced 10

Fines

This analysis includes all fines that were imposed for cases where causing injury intentionally was the principal offence.  Fines were imposed on 31 people.

As shown in Figure 18, the fine amount imposed ranged from $100 to $10,000, with a median of $1,500 (meaning that half of the values fell below $1,500 and half of the values were above $1,500).

The average (mean) fine amount was $1,650.  The average fine amount imposed against the 27 males was $1,761, much higher than the average fine for the 4 females ($900).

Figure 18: The number of people who received a fine for causing injury intentionally by fine amount, 2008–09 to 2012–13

Fine amount Number of people
$1-$499 8
$500-$999 4
$1000-$1499 2
$1500-$1999 6
$2000-$2499 5
$2500-$2999 3
$3000+ 3

Appeals

A sentence imposed on a person may be appealed[13] 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, none of the people sentenced for the principal offence of causing injury intentionally in the period 2008–09 to 2012–13 successfully appealed their conviction (the person was acquitted of the offence). Thus, the number of people sentenced from 2008–09 to 2012–13 for a principal offence of causing injury intentionally remained at 273 once appeals are considered.

As a result of successful appeals against sentence, the total effective sentence and/or the non-parole period changed for 4 people. All of these appeals were made by the person sentenced and resulted in a sentence reduction. The longest total effective imprisonment term to be reduced was a sentence of 6 years, which decreased to 4 years and 9 months. There were no successful appeals made by the Crown from 2008–09 to 2012–13. Of the 5 appeals, 4 were for original sentences of imprisonment, where 1 imprisonment sentence was changed to a partially suspended sentence. The principal sentence changed for 4 people as a result of a successful appeal. The longest principal sentence of imprisonment reduced was 4 years, which decreased to 2 years. 

With the original sentencing data revised to incorporate appeal outcomes, the adjusted longest total effective imprisonment term changed to 5 years and 6 months. The adjusted longest non-parole period was 3 years and 6 months. The adjusted longest principal sentence of imprisonment was unchanged at 4 years and 9 months.

Summary

Between 2008–09 and 2012–13, 273 people were sentenced for causing injury intentionally in the higher courts.  Over this period, the majority of people sentenced were men (92%), while 88% were between the age of 18 and 45 years.

Around one in three people sentenced for causing injury intentionally received a period of imprisonment (32%), while 19% received a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment, 11% received a community-based order, and 11% received a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment.

Men were more likely than women to be sentenced to a period of imprisonment, given an intensive correction order, or given a partially suspended sentence of imprisonment.  Conversely, women were more likely to be sentenced to a community-based order, a wholly suspended sentence of imprisonment, or an adjourned undertaking without conviction.

Imprisonment was more common for those aged between 30 and 34 years, wholly suspended sentences of imprisonment were more common for those aged between 30 and 40 years and community-based orders were more common for those younger than 25 years of age.

Each of the 273 people was sentenced for an average of 2.74 offences, including 1.16 offences of causing injury intentionally.  The most common offence finalised in conjunction with causing injury intentionally was aggravated burglary (16.1% of all cases).  The number and range of offences for which people with a principal offence of causing injury intentionally 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 2 years, while the median principal imprisonment length was 1 year and 6 months.

Total effective imprisonment lengths ranged from 1 month with no non-parole period to 6 years with a non-parole period of 4 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 9 months with 6 months suspended, 1 year with 10 months suspended, 1 year and 6 months with 9 months suspended and 1 year and 9 months with 1 year 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 was 1 month to 5 years and 6 months and the range of principal imprisonment sentence length was unchanged at 1 month to 4 years and 9 months.

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. 128, which describes sentencing trends for causing injury intentionally between 2006–07 and 2010–11.

[2] The information source for sentencing outcomes for causing injury intentionally 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), custodial supervision order, and aggregate imprisonment.

[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] Data presented in this section do 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 8 only deals with sentences of imprisonment for the principal proven offence of causing injury intentionally. During the 2008–09 to 2012–13 period, 1 person received an aggregate form of imprisonment.

[10] All of the 90 people who were sentenced to imprisonment as the principal sentence were also given imprisonment as the total effective sentence. In addition, Figure 11 includes one person who received an aggregate sentence of imprisonment.

[11] A total of 22 people were not eligible for parole because they were given a total effective sentence length of less than one year.

[12] One person was not given a non-parole period relating to that case alone, but a non-parole period that also related to other cases.  It is not possible to determine the length of the non-parole period that relates to these cases.  The non-parole period for this person is excluded from the analysis.  A non-parole period was not set for 7 people who were eligible for a non-parole period.

[13] 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).