Sentencing Trends for Aggravated Burglary in the Higher Courts of Victoria 2010–11 to 2014–15

Sentencing Snapshot 184
Date of Publication: 
28 June 2016

Sentencing Snapshot no. 184 describes sentencing outcomes for the offence of aggravated burglary in the County and Supreme Courts of Victoria between 2010–11 and 2014–15.

The most recent Sentencing Snapshot for this offence is Snapshot no. 211.

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, 2016

Introduction

This Sentencing Snapshot describes sentencing outcomes[1] for the offence of aggravated burglary in the County and Supreme Courts of Victoria between 2010–11 and 2014–15.[2] Adjustments made by the Court of Appeal to sentence or conviction as at June 2015 have been incorporated into the data in this Snapshot.

Detailed data on aggravated burglary and other offences are available on SACStat – Higher Courts. 

A person who enters a building or part of a building as a trespasser and who intends to steal, assault a person in the building, or damage the building or property in the building is guilty of burglary. The offence of burglary is aggravated if the person has with him or her a firearm, imitation firearm, offensive weapon, explosive, or imitation explosive. Aggravated burglary also occurs if, at the time of entering the building, someone else was present and the offender knew, or was reckless as to the fact. Aggravated burglary[3] is an indictable offence that carries a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 3,000 penalty units.[4] Indictable offences are more serious offences triable before a judge and jury in the County or Supreme Court. Aggravated burglary can also be tried summarily if the offence involves an intent to steal property that does not exceed a $100,000 value, the Magistrates’ Court considers it appropriate, and the defendant consents.

Aggravated burglary was the principal offence[5] in 7.1% of cases sentenced in the higher courts between 2010–11 and 2014–15.

People sentenced

From 2010–11 to 2014–15, 671 people were sentenced in the higher courts for a principal offence of aggravated burglary.

Figure 1 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of aggravated burglary by financial year. There were 84 people sentenced for this offence in 2014–15, down by 20 people from the previous year. The number of people sentenced was highest in 2011–12 (182 people).

Figure 1: The number of people sentenced for aggravated burglary by financial year, 2010–11 to 2014–15

Financial year Total
2010–11 174
2011–12 182
2012–13 127
2013–14 104
2014–15 84
Total 671

Sentence types and trends

Figure 2 shows the total number of people sentenced for aggravated burglary and the number that 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.[6] Over the five-year period, 71% of people were given an immediate custodial sentence. This peaked at 86% (89 of 104 people) in 2013–14 after a low of 60% (104 of 174 people) in 2010–11. In 2014–15, 83% of people sentenced (70 of 84 people) were given an immediate custodial sentence.

Figure 2: The number of people sentenced for aggravated burglary and the number that received an immediate custodial sentence, 2010–11 to 2014–15

Financial year Custodial Non-Custodial Total
2010–11 104 70 174
2011–12 118 64 182
2012–13 98 29 127
2013–14 89 15 104
2014–15 70 14 84
Total 479 192 671

Table 1 shows the number of people sentenced for aggravated burglary from 2010–11 to 2014–15 by the types of sentences imposed.

Over the five-year period, the majority of the people sentenced for aggravated burglary received a period of imprisonment (61% or 410 of 671 people). Of those receiving other sentences, 117 people (17%) received a wholly suspended sentence, 48 people (7%) received a community correction order, and 33 people (5%) received a partially suspended sentence.

The percentage of people receiving imprisonment for aggravated burglary peaked at 84% (87 of 104 people) in 2013–14, while the number receiving imprisonment was highest in 2011–12 (100 of 182 people or 55%). The percentage of people receiving imprisonment was lowest at 47% (82 of 174 people) in 2010–11, while the number was lowest in 2014–15 (53 of 84 people or 63%).

The percentage and number of people receiving a wholly suspended sentence for aggravated burglary were highest in 2010–11 (33% or 57 of 174 people) and lowest in 2013–14, when one person received this sentence.

Table 1: The number and percentage of people sentenced for aggravated burglary by sentence type, 2010–11 to 2014–15

Sentence type 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 Total
Imprisonment 82 (47%) 100 (55%) 88 (69%) 87 (84%) 53 (63%) 410 (61%)
Wholly suspended sentence 57 (33%) 48 (26%) 11 (9%) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 117 (17%)
Community correction order 0 (–) 7 (4%) 16 (13%) 13 (13%) 12 (14%) 48 (7%)
Partially suspended sentence 15 (9%) 13 (7%) 4 (3%) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 33 (5%)
Youth justice centre order 7 (4%) 5 (3%) 5 (4%) 1 (<1%) 2 (2%) 20 (3%)
Community-based order 9 (5%) 8 (4%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 17 (3%)
Mix (Imprisonment and community correction order) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 11 (13%) 12 (2%)
Intensive correction order 4 (2%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 4 (<1%)
Mix (aggregate imprisonment and community correction order) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 2 (2%) 2 (<1%)
Non-custodial supervision order 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 1 (1%) 2 (<1%)
Fine 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 2 (<1%)
Aggregate imprisonment 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (1%) 1 (<1%)
Aggregate youth justice centre order 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (1%) 1 (<1%)
Mix (community correction order and fine) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (1%) 1 (<1%)
Adjourned undertaking with conviction 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
People sentenced 174 182 127 104 84 671

Age and gender of people sentenced

Data on the age and gender of people sentenced for aggravated burglary are available on SACStat – Higher Courts.

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.[7]

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 aggravated burglary must be considered in this broader context. The following sections analyse the use of imprisonment for the offence of aggravated burglary from 2010–11 to 2014–15.

Principal sentence of imprisonment

A total of 425 people (63%) received a principal sentence of imprisonment for aggravated burglary between 2010–11 and 2014–15.[8]

Figure 3 shows these people by the length of their imprisonment term.[9] Imprisonment terms ranged from 2 months and 6 days to 6 years and 9 months, 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 length of imprisonment imposed was 2 to less than 3 years (142 people).

Figure 3: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for aggravated burglary by length of imprisonment term, 2010–11 to 2014–15

Imprisonment length Number of people
Less than 1 year 22
1 to less than 2 years 89
2 to less than 3 years 142
3 to less than 4 years 93
4 to less than 5 years 44
5 to less than 6 years 15
6 to less than 7 years 17
People sentenced 422

As shown in Figure 4, the average length of imprisonment term imposed on people sentenced for aggravated burglary ranged from 2 years and 5 months in 2011–12 to 2 years and 11 months in 2010–11.

Figure 4: The average length of imprisonment term imposed on people sentenced for aggravated burglary, 2010–11 to 2014–15

Financial year Average length of imprisonment term
2010-11 (n = 82) 2 years, 11 months
2011-12 (n = 100) 2 years, 5 months
2012-13 (n = 89) 2 years, 6 months
2013-14 (n = 87) 2 years, 9 months
2014-15 (n = 64) 2 years, 8 months

Other offences finalised at the same hearing

Often people prosecuted for aggravated burglary 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 aggravated burglary.

Figure 5 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of aggravated burglary by the total number of offences for which sentences were set. The number of sentenced offences per person ranged from 1 to 124, while the median was 3 offences. There were 57 people (8.5%) sentenced for the single offence of aggravated burglary. The average number of offences per person sentenced for aggravated burglary was 4.46.

Figure 5: The number of people sentenced for the principal offence of aggravated burglary by the number of sentenced offences per person, 2010–11 to 2014–15

Number of offences Number of people
1 57
2 177
3 145
4 96
5–9 155
10–19 31
20–49 7
50-99 2
100+ 1
Total 671

While Figure 5 presents the number of sentenced offences for those sentenced for aggravated burglary, Table 2 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, 167 of the total 671 people (24.9%) also received sentences for intentionally destroy/damage property (criminal damage). On average, they were sentenced for 1.25 counts of intentionally destroy/damage property (criminal damage).

Table 2: The number and percentage of people sentenced for the principal offence of aggravated burglary by the most common offences that were sentenced and the average number of those offences that were sentenced, 2010–11 to 2014–15

Offence Number of cases Percentage of cases Average number of offences per case
1. Aggravated burglary 671 100 1.11
2. Intentionally destroy/damage property (criminal damage) 167 24.9 1.25
3. Causing injury intentionally 163 24.3 1.25
4. Theft 160 23.8 2.67
5. Common law assault 127 18.9 1.43
6. Causing injury recklessly 95 14.2 1.26
7. Make threat to kill 64 9.5 1.28
8. Causing serious injury recklessly 54 8.0 1.06
9. Unlawful assault 44 6.6 1.27
10. Possess a drug of dependence 44 6.6 1.27
People sentenced 671 100.0 4.46

Total effective sentence of imprisonment

Figure 6 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for aggravated burglary between 2010–11 and 2014–15 by length of total effective sentence. The length of total effective sentences ranged from 2 months and 6 days to 10 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 total effective imprisonment length was 2 to less than 3 years (106 people).

Figure 6: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for aggravated burglary by length of total effective imprisonment term, 2010–11 to 2014–15

Total effective imprisonment length Number of people
Less than 1 year 20
1 to less than 2 years 56
2 to less than 3 years 106
3 to less than 4 years 98
4 to less than 5 years 57
5 to less than 6 years 38
6 to less than 7 years 18
7 to less than 8 years 13
8 to less than 9 years 15
9 to less than 10 years 3
10 to less than 11 years 1
People sentenced 425

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 aggravated burglary. Sentences and non-parole periods must be considered in this broader context.

Of the 425 people who were sentenced to imprisonment for aggravated burglary, 405 were eligible to have a non-parole period fixed.[10] Of these people, 393 were given a non-parole period (97%).[11] Figure 7 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for aggravated burglary between 2010–11 and 2014–15 by length of non-parole period. Non-parole periods ranged from 3 months to 8 years, while the median length of the non-parole period was 1 year and 9 months (meaning that half of the non-parole periods were below 1 year and 9 months and half were above).

The most common non-parole period imposed was 1 to less than 2 years (144 people).

Figure 7: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for aggravated burglary by length of non-parole period, 2010–11 to 2014–15

Non-parole period Number of people
Less than 1 year 63
1 to less than 2 years 144
2 to less than 3 years 88
3 to less than 4 years 50
4 to less than 5 years 20
5 to less than 6 years 18
6 to less than 7 years 6
7 to less than 8 years 3
8 to less than 9 years 1
No non-parole period 28

Total effective sentences of imprisonment and non-parole periods

Figure 8 compares the average length of total effective sentences of imprisonment with the average length of non-parole periods from 2010–11 to 2014–15.

From 2010–11 to 2014–15, the average length of total effective sentences for all people ranged from 3 years and 2 months in 2011–12 to 3 years and 10 months in 2010–11. Over the same period, the average length of non-parole periods ranged from 1 year and 10 months in 2011–12 to 2 years and 5 months in 2014–15.

Figure 8: The average total effective sentence and the average non-parole period imposed on people sentenced to imprisonment for aggravated burglary, 2010–11 to 2014–15

Financial year Average total effective length Average non-parole period
2010–11 3 years, 10 months 2 years, 4 months
2011–12 3 years, 2 months 1 year, 10 months
2012–13 3 years, 4 months 2 years, 1 month
2013–14 3 years, 6 months 2 years, 2 months
2014–15 3 years, 3 months 2 years, 5 months

Total effective sentence of imprisonment by non-parole period

Data on the total effective sentence of imprisonment by non-parole period for aggravated burglary are available on SACStat – Higher Courts.

Non-imprisonment sentences

Data on the length of non-imprisonment sentence types – such as community correction orders, suspended sentences, and fines – for aggravated burglary are available on SACStat – Higher Courts.

Summary

Between 2010–11 and 2014–15, 671 people were sentenced for aggravated burglary in the higher courts. Of these people, 425 (63%) were given a principal sentence of imprisonment.

The number and range of offences for which people with a principal offence of aggravated burglary 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 2 months and 6 days to 10 years, and non-parole periods (where imposed) ranged from 3 months to 8 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 found to be unfit to stand trial or not guilty because of mental impairment. However, these orders 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. 155, which describes sentencing trends for aggravated burglary between 2008–09 and 2012–13.

[2] Data on first-instance sentence outcomes presented in this Snapshot were obtained from the Strategic Analysis and Review Team at Court Services Victoria. Data on appeal outcomes were collected by the Sentencing Advisory Council from the Australasian Legal Information Institute (external link opens in a new window), and also were provided by the Victorian Court of Appeal. 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.

[3] Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 77.

[4] The value of a penalty unit changes each year and can be found in the Victorian Government Gazette and on the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website (external link opens in a new window).

[5] 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.

[6] Immediate custodial sentence includes imprisonment, partially suspended sentence, youth justice centre order, mix (imprisonment and community correction order), mix (aggregate imprisonment and community correction order), aggregate imprisonment, and aggregate youth justice centre order.

[7] Refer to endnote 5.

[8] This total includes the people in Table 1 who received a sentence of imprisonment, mix (imprisonment and community correction order), mix (aggregate imprisonment and community correction order), and aggregate imprisonment.

[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 3 only deals with sentences of imprisonment for the principal proven offence of aggravated burglary. During the 2010–11 to 2014–15 period, 3 people received an aggregate form of imprisonment.

[10] A total of 20 people were not eligible for parole because they were given a total effective sentence length of less than one year.

[11] Three people were not given a non-parole period relating to that case alone, but a non-parole period that also related to other cases. One additional person received a total effective sentence of less than 1 year and also a new non-parole period due to already serving a sentence of imprisonment from 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 9 people who were eligible for a non-parole period.