Sentencing Trends for Armed Robbery in the Higher Courts of Victoria 2010–11 to 2014–15

Sentencing Snapshot 186
Date of Publication: 
28 June 2016

Sentencing Snapshot no. 186 describes sentencing outcomes for the offence of armed robbery 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. 212.

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 armed robbery 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 armed robbery and other offences are available on SACStat – Higher Courts.

A person who uses or threatens to use force in order to steal, and at the time has with them a firearm, imitation firearm, offensive weapon, explosive, or imitation explosive is guilty of armed robbery. Armed robbery[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 of Victoria.

Armed robbery was the principal offence[5] in 11.0% of cases sentenced in the higher courts between 2010–11 and 2014–15.

People sentenced

From 2010–11 to 2014–15, 1,042 people were sentenced in the higher courts for a principal offence of armed robbery. 

Figure 1 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of armed robbery by financial year. There were 216 people sentenced for this offence in 2014–15, up by 18 people from the previous year.  The number of people sentenced was highest in 2012–13 (238 people).

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

Financial year Total
2010–11 184
2011–12 206
2012–13 238
2013–14 198
2014–15 216
Total 1,042

Sentence types and trends

Figure 2 shows the total number of people sentenced for armed robbery 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, 82% of people were given an immediate custodial sentence.  This peaked at 85% (202 of 238) in 2012–13 before decreasing to 80% (172 of 216) in 2014–15.

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

Financial year Custodial Non-Custodial Total
2010–11 149 35 184
2011–12 170 36 206
2012–13 202 36 238
2013–14 162 36 198
2014–15 172 44 216
Total 855 187 1,042

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

Over the five-year period, the majority of the people sentenced for armed robbery received a period of imprisonment (64% or 665 of 1,042 people), while 11% received a community correction order and 10% received a youth justice centre order.

The percentage and number of people receiving imprisonment for armed robbery peaked at 71% (168 of 238 people) in 2012–13 and were lowest in 2014–15 (47% or 102 of 216 people).  

The percentage and number of people receiving a community correction order peaked at 19% (42 of 216 people) in 2014–15, while in 2011–12, when community correction orders were introduced as a sentencing disposition, only 5% (10 of 206 people) received a community correction order.

The percentage and number of people receiving a youth justice centre order peaked at 17% (34 of 206 people) in 2011–12 and were lowest in 2014–15 (5% or 10 of 216 people).

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

Sentence type 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 Total
Imprisonment 124 (67%) 135 (66%) 168 (71%) 136 (69%) 102 (47%) 665 (64%)
Community correction order 0 (–) 10 (5%) 30 (13%) 33 (17%) 42 (19%) 115 (11%)
Youth justice centre order 21 (11%) 34 (17%) 24 (10%) 19 (10%) 10 (5%) 108 (10%)
Mix (Imprisonment and community correction order) 0 (–) 0 (–) 5 (2%) 4 (2%) 39 (18%) 48 (5%)
Wholly suspended sentence 21 (11%) 17 (8%) 5 (2%) 2 (1%) 1 (<1%) 46 (4%)
Community-based order 8 (4%) 6 (3%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 14 (1%)
Aggregate imprisonment 0 (–) 0 (–) 3 (1%) 3 (2%) 7 (3%) 13 (1%)
Mix (aggregate imprisonment and community correction order) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 13 (6%) 13 (1%)
Partially suspended sentence 4 (2%) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 5 (<1%)
Intensive correction order 5 (3%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 5 (<1%)
Non-custodial supervision order 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 2 (<1%)
Hospital security order 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Custodial supervision order 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 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%)
Mix (community-based order and fine) 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Fine 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Adjourned undertaking with conviction 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Adjourned undertaking without conviction 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
People sentenced 184 206 238 198 216 1,042

Age and gender of people sentenced

Data on the age and gender of people sentenced for armed robbery 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 armed robbery must be considered in this broader context. The following sections analyse the use of imprisonment for the offence of armed robbery from 2010–11 to 2014–15.

Principal sentence of imprisonment

A total of 739 people (71%) received a principal sentence of imprisonment for armed robbery between 2010–11 and 2014–15.[8]

Figure 3 shows these people by the length of their imprisonment term.[9]  Imprisonment terms ranged from 1 month and 14 days (combined with a community correction order) to 14 years and 2 months, while the median length of imprisonment was 3 years (meaning that half of the imprisonment terms were shorter than 3 years and half were longer).

The most common length of imprisonment imposed was 2 to less than 3 years (209 people).

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

Imprisonment length         Number of people
Less than 1 year 34
1 to less than 2 years 94
2 to less than 3 years 209
3 to less than 4 years 183
4 to less than 5 years 108
5 to less than 6 years 48
6 to less than 7 years 25
7 to less than 8 years 5
8 to less than 9 years 4
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 0
13 to less than 14 years 0
14 to less than 15 years 1
People sentenced 713

As shown in Figure 4, the average length of imprisonment term imposed on people sentenced for armed robbery ranged from 2 years and 4 months in 2014–15 to 3 years and 3 months in 2013–14.

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

Financial year Average length of imprisonment term
2010–11 (n = 124) 3 years, 1 month
2011–12 (n = 135) 3 years, 1 month
2012–13 (n = 173) 3 years, 1 month
2013–14 (n = 140) 3 years, 3 months
2014–15 (n = 141) 2 years, 4 months

Other offences finalised at the same hearing

Often people prosecuted for armed robbery 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 armed robbery.

Figure 5 shows the number of people sentenced for the principal offence of armed robbery by the total number of offences for which sentences were set.  The number of sentenced offences per person ranged from 1 to 47, while the median was 2 offences.  There were 327 people (31.4%) sentenced for the single offence of armed robbery.  The average number of offences per person sentenced for armed robbery was 3.75.

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

Number of offences Number of people
1 327
2 214
3 149
4 91
5–9 189
10–19 60
20+ 12
Total 1,042

While Figure 5 presents the number of sentenced offences for those sentenced for armed robbery, 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, 202 of the total 1,042 people (19.4%) also received sentences for theft.  On average, they were sentenced for 2.14 counts of theft.

Table 2: The number and percentage of people sentenced for the principal offence of armed robbery 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 proven offences per case
1. Armed robbery 1,042 100.0 1.65
2. Theft 202 19.4 2.14
3. Attempted armed robbery 127 12.2 1.26
4. Robbery 74 7.1 1.70
5. Possess a drug of dependence 64 6.1 1.20
6. Burglary 57 5.5 1.84
7. Aggravated burglary 52 5.0 1.29
8. Intentionally destroy/damage property (criminal damage) 47 4.5 1.55
9. False imprisonment 42 4.0 1.38
10. Handling stolen goods 35 3.4 1.29
People sentenced 1,042 100.0 3.75

Total effective sentence of imprisonment

There were 740 people given a total effective sentence of imprisonment.[10] Figure 6 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for armed robbery between 2010–11 and 2014–15 by length of total effective sentence. The length of total effective sentences ranged from 1 month and 9 days (combined with a community correction order) to 18 years and 2 months, while the median total effective length of imprisonment was 3 years and 6 months (meaning that half of the total effective sentence lengths were below 3 years and 6 months and half were above).

The most common total effective imprisonment length was 3 to less than 4 years (179 people).

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

Total effective imprisonment length Number of people
Less than 1 year 37
1 to less than 2 years 76
2 to less than 3 years 134
3 to less than 4 years 179
4 to less than 5 years 115
5 to less than 6 years 89
6 to less than 7 years 50
7 to less than 8 years 33
8 to less than 9 years 14
9 to less than 10 years 6
10 to less than 11 years 1
11 to less than 12 years 4
12 to less than 13 years 0
13 to less than 14 years 0
14 to less than 15 years 0
15 to less than 16 years 0
16 to less than 17 years 1
17 to less than 18 years 0
18 to less than 19 years 1
People sentenced 740

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 armed robbery.  Sentences and non-parole periods must be considered in this broader context.

Of the 740 people who were sentenced to imprisonment for armed robbery, 703 were eligible to have a non-parole period fixed.[11]  Of these people, 658 were given a non-parole period (94%).[12]  Figure 7 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for armed robbery between 2010–11 and 2014–15 by length of non-parole period.  Non-parole periods ranged from 4 months to 14 years and 2 months, while the median length of the non-parole period was 2 years (meaning that half of the non-parole periods were below 2 years and half were above).

The most common non-parole period imposed was 1 to less than 2 years (232 people).

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

Non-parole period Number of people
Less than 1 year 56
1 to less than 2 years 232
2 to less than 3 years 168
3 to less than 4 years 107
4 to less than 5 years 52
5 to less than 6 years 29
6 to less than 7 years 7
7 to less than 8 years 2
8 to less than 9 years 4
9 to less than 10 years 0
10 to less than 11 years 0
11 to less than 12 years 0
12 to less than 13 years 0
13 to less than 14 years 1
14 to less than 15 years 1
No non-parole period 74

Total effective sentences of imprisonment and non-parole periods

Figure 8 presents the average length of total effective sentences of imprisonment compared 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 2 years and 10 months in 2014–15 to 4 years in 2010–11, 2011–12, and 2013–14.  Over the same period, the average length of non-parole periods ranged from 2 years and 3 months in 2012–13 to 2 years and 5 months in 2011–12.

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

Financial year Average total effective length Average non-parole period
2010–11 4 years, 0 months 2 years, 4 months
2011–12 4 years, 0 months 2 years, 5 months
2012–13 3 years, 10 months 2 years, 3 months
2013–14 4 years, 0 months 2 years, 4 months
2014–15 2 years, 10 months 2 years, 4 months

Total effective sentence of imprisonment by non-parole period

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

Summary

Between 2010–11 and 2014–15, 1,042 people were sentenced for armed robbery in the higher courts.  Of these people, 739 (71%) were given a principal sentence of imprisonment.

The number and range of offences for which people with a principal offence of armed robbery were sentenced help explain why imprisonment sentence lengths were longer for the total effective sentence than for the principal sentence. The median total effective imprisonment length was 3 years and 6 months while the median principal imprisonment length was 3 years.

Total effective imprisonment lengths ranged from 1 month and 9 days (combined with a community correction order) to 18 years and 2 months and non-parole periods (where imposed) ranged from 4 months to 14 years and 2 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 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. 153, which describes sentencing trends for armed robbery 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 75A.

[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, youth justice centre order, mix (imprisonment and community correction order), mix (aggregate imprisonment and community correction order), aggregate imprisonment, partially suspended sentence, hospital security order, custodial supervision order, 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), aggregate imprisonment, and mix (aggregate imprisonment and community correction order).

[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 armed robbery. During the 2010–11 to 2014–15 period, 26 people received an aggregate form of imprisonment.

[10] All of the 739 people who were given a principal sentence of imprisonment were also given a total effective sentence of imprisonment. One extra person was also included because this person received a total effective sentence of imprisonment, although the principal sentence for armed robbery was amended to a community correction order post-appeal (the person still received imprisonment for the other charges in the case and for the total effective sentence).

[11] A total of 37 people were not eligible for parole because they were given a total effective sentence length of less than one year.

[12] Seven 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 38 people who were eligible for a non-parole period.