Sentencing Trends for Armed Robbery in the Higher Courts of Victoria 2012–13 to 2016–17

Sentencing Snapshot 212
Date of Publication: 
28 June 2018

Sentencing Snapshot no. 212 describes sentencing outcomes for the offence of armed robbery in the County and Supreme Courts of Victoria from 2012–13 to 2016–17.

This is the most recent Sentencing Snapshot for this offence.

You can also access statistics for this offence on SACStat.

Authored and published by the Sentencing Advisory Council
© State of Victoria, Sentencing Advisory Council, 2018

Introduction

This Sentencing Snapshot describes sentencing outcomes1 for the offence of armed robbery in the County and Supreme Courts of Victoria from 2012–13 to 2016–17.2 Adjustments made by the Court of Appeal to sentence or conviction as at June 2017 have been incorporated into the data in this Snapshot.

Detailed data on armed robbery and other offences is available on Sentencing Advisory Council Statistics Online (SACStat).

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 robbery3 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 offence5 in 11.0% of cases sentenced in the higher courts between 2012–13 and 2016–17.

People sentenced

From 2012–13 to 2016–17, 988 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 148 people sentenced for this offence in 2016–17, down by 39 people from the previous year. The number of people sentenced was highest in 2012–13 (240 people).

Figure 1: The number of people sentenced for armed robbery by financial year, 2012–13 to 2016–17

Financial Year Total
2012–13 240
2013–14 198
2014–15 215
2015–16 187
2016–17 148
Total 988

Sentence types and trends

Figure 2 shows the total number of people sentenced for armed robbery and the number receiving an immediate custodial sentence. An immediate custodial sentence is one that involves at least some element of immediate imprisonment or detention.6 Over the five-year period, 82% of people were given an immediate custodial sentence.

Figure 2: The number of people sentenced for armed robbery and the number receiving an immediate custodial sentence, 2012–13 to 2016–17

Financial Year Custodial Non-custodial Total
2012–13 204 36 240
2013–14 162 36 198
2014–15 171 44 215
2015–16 139 48 187
2016–17 134 14 148
Total 810 178 988

Table 1 shows the number of people sentenced for armed robbery from 2012–13 to 2016–17 by the type of sentence imposed. The availability of different sentence types has changed over time. Most notably, wholly and partially suspended sentences have now been abolished.7 Changes to community correction orders have also influenced sentencing trends over the five years covered by this Snapshot.8

Over the five-year period, the majority of the people sentenced for armed robbery received a sentence of imprisonment (55% or 545 of 988 people), while 12% received a sentence of imprisonment combined with a community correction order, 16% received a community correction order and 8% received a youth justice centre order.

A total of 730 people received a principal sentence of imprisonment for armed robbery. The principal sentence is the sentence imposed for the charge that is the principal offence.9 This total includes the people in Table 1 who received a sentence of imprisonment, imprisonment combined with a community correction order, aggregate imprisonment, and aggregate imprisonment combined with a community correction order. Of the total number receiving a principal sentence of imprisonment for armed robbery, 75% (545 of 730 people) received imprisonment, 17% (122 of 730 people) received imprisonment combined with a community correction order, 4% (30 of 730 people) received aggregate imprisonment and 5% (33 of 730 people) received aggregate imprisonment combined with a community correction order.

The percentage of people receiving a principal sentence of imprisonment (including a combined or an aggregate sentence) for armed robbery peaked at 83% (123 of 148 people) in 2016–17, while the number was highest in 2012–13 (74% or 178 of 240 people). The percentage of people receiving imprisonment for armed robbery was lowest in 2015–16 (67% or 126 of 187 people), while the number was lowest in 2016–17, despite the highest percentage of people receiving imprisonment (83% or 123 of 148 people) during this financial year.

A total of 161 people received a community correction order as their principal sentence. This total includes the people in Table 1 who received a community correction order or a community correction order combined with a fine. Of the total number receiving a community correction order, 99% (160 of 161 people) received a community correction order while 1% (1 of 161 people) received a community correction order with a fine.

The percentage of people receiving a community correction order as their principal sentence for armed robbery peaked in 2015–16 at 23% (43 of 187 people). The number of people receiving a community correction order for armed robbery was highest in 2014–15 (20% or 43 of 215 people) and 2015–16 (23% or 43 of 187 people). The number and percentage of people receiving a community correction order were lowest in 2016–17 (9% or 13 of 148 people).

Table 1: The number and percentage of people sentenced for armed robbery by sentence type, 2012–13 to 2016–17 (in descending order of numbers for 2016–17)

Sentence type 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17 Total
Imprisonment 168 (70%) 135 (68%) 101 (47%) 54 (29%) 87 (59%) 545 (55%)
Imprisonment and community correction order (combined) 7 (3%) 4 (2%) 38 (18%) 53 (28%) 20 (14%) 122 (12%)
Community correction order 29 (12%) 33 (17%) 42 (20%) 43 (23%) 13 (9%) 160 (16%)
Youth justice centre order 24 (10%) 19 (10%) 10 (5%) 13 (7%) 10 (7%) 76 (8%)
Aggregate imprisonment 3 (1%) 4 (2%) 7 (3%) 7 (4%) 9 (6%) 30 (3%)
Aggregate imprisonment and community correction order (combined) 0 (–) 0 (–) 14 (7%) 12 (6%) 7 (5%) 33 (3%)
Wholly suspended sentence 5 (2%) 2 (1%) 1 (<1%) 1 (<1%) 1 (<1%) 10 (1%)
Aggregate youth justice centre order 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 2 (<1%)
Adjourned undertaking without conviction 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 2 (1%) 0 (–) 3 (<1%)
Non-custodial supervision order 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 2 (1%) 0 (–) 3 (<1%)
Hospital security order 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Community correction order and fine (combined) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Adjourned undertaking with conviction 0 (–) 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
Custodial supervision order 1 (<1%) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 0 (–) 1 (<1%)
People sentenced 240 198 215 187 148 988

Age and gender of people sentenced

Data on the age and gender of people sentenced for armed robbery is available on SACStat.

Sentence length

Two methods for describing sentence 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 described above).

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 is 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 2012–13 to 2016–17.

Principal sentence of imprisonment

Of the 730 people who received a principal sentence of imprisonment, 667 people received a non-aggregate term of imprisonment.

Figure 3 shows the length of imprisonment for the people receiving a non-aggregate term.10 Imprisonment terms ranged from 1 month to 14 years and 2 months, while the median length of imprisonment was 2 years and 10 months (meaning that half of the imprisonment terms were shorter than 2 years and 10 months and half were longer).

The most common length of imprisonment imposed was 3 to less than 4 years (170 people).

Figure 3: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for armed robbery by length of imprisonment term, 2012–13 to 2016–17

Imprisonment length Number of people
Less than 1 year 74
1 to less than 2 years 106
2 to less than 3 years 154
3 to less than 4 years 170
4 to less than 5 years 93
5 to less than 6 years 40
6 to less than 7 years 17
7 to less than 8 years 4
8 to less than 9 years 7
9 to less than 10 years 1
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 0
14 to less than 15 years 1
People sentenced 667

As shown in Figure 4, the average (mean) length of imprisonment imposed on people sentenced for armed robbery ranged from 1 year and 11 months in 2015–16 to 3 years and 3 months in 2013–14.

Figure 4: The average (mean) length of imprisonment imposed on people sentenced for armed robbery, 2012–13 to 2016–17

Financial year Number of people Average length of imprisonment term
2012–13 175 3 years and 1 month
2013–14 139 3 years and 3 months
2014–15 139 2 years and 4 months
2015–16 107 1 year and 11 months
2016–17 107 3 years and 1 month

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 imposed. The number of sentenced offences per person ranged from 1 to 115, while the median was 2 offences. There were 298 people (30.2%) sentenced for the single offence of armed robbery. The average number of offences per person sentenced for armed robbery was 3.94.

Figure 5: The number of people sentenced for the principal offence of armed robbery by the number of sentenced offences per person, 2012–13 to 2016–17

Number of offences Number of people
1 298
2 220
3 132
4 81
5–9 178
10–19 65
20–49 13
50–99
100+ 1
Total 988

Table 2 shows the 10 most common offences for people sentenced for armed robbery, by number and percentage. The last column sets out the average number of offences sentenced per person. For example, 237 of the total 988 people (24.0%) also received sentences for theft. On average, they were sentenced for 2.27 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, 2012–13 to 2016–17

Offence Number of cases Percentage of cases Average number of proven offences per case
1. Armed robbery 988 100.0% 1.58
2. Theft 237 24.0% 2.27
3. Attempted armed robbery 107 10.8% 1.22
4. Possess a drug of dependence 79 8.0% 1.24
5. Commit an indictable offence while on bail 64 6.5% 1.17
6. Burglary 59 6.0% 1.92
7. Robbery 54 5.5% 1.37
8. Handling stolen goods 46 4.7% 1.33
9. Intentionally destroy/damage property (criminal damage) 44 4.5% 1.95
10. Common law assault 44 4.5% 1.43
People sentenced 988 100.0% 3.94

Total effective imprisonment terms

Figure 6 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for armed robbery from 2012–13 to 2016–17 by length of total effective imprisonment term. Total effective imprisonment terms ranged from 1 month to 18 years and 2 months, while the median total effective imprisonment term was 3 years and 3 months (meaning that half of the total effective imprisonment terms were below 3 years and 3 months and half were above).

The most common total effective imprisonment term was 3 to less than 4 years (153 people).

Figure 6: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for armed robbery by length of total effective imprisonment term, 2012–13 to 2016–17

Total effective imprisonment length Number of people
Less than 1 year 84
1 to less than 2 years 103
2 to less than 3 years 112
3 to less than 4 years 153
4 to less than 5 years 109
5 to less than 6 years 81
6 to less than 7 years 37
7 to less than 8 years 29
8 to less than 9 years 8
9 to less than 10 years 7
10 to less than 11 years 3
11 to less than 12 years 3
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 0
17 to less than 18 years 0
18 to less than 19 years 1

Non-parole period

If a person is sentenced to a term of immediate imprisonment of less than one year, the court cannot impose a non-parole period. For terms between 1 year and less than 2 years, the court has the discretion to fix a non-parole period. For terms of imprisonment of 2 years or more, the court must impose a non-parole period in most circumstances. 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 in custody.

Of the 730 people who were sentenced to imprisonment for armed robbery, 646 were eligible to have a non-parole period fixed.11 Of these people, 552 were given a non-parole period (85%).12 Figure 7 shows the number of people sentenced to imprisonment for armed robbery from 2012–13 to 2016–17 by length of non-parole period. Non-parole periods ranged from 5 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 (183 people).

Figure 7: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment for armed robbery by length of non-parole period, 2012–13 to 2016–17

Non-parole period Number of people
Less than 1 year 35
1 to less than 2 years 183
2 to less than 3 years 159
3 to less than 4 years 98
4 to less than 5 years 46
5 to less than 6 years 19
6 to less than 7 years 4
7 to less than 8 years 4
8 to less than 9 years 3
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 0
14 to less than 15 years 1
No non-parole period 166
Total people 718

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 2012–13 to 2016–17.13

From 2012–13 to 2016–17, the average length of total effective sentences for all people ranged from 2 years and 5 months in 2015–16 to 4 years in 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 8 months in 2016–17.

Figure 8: The average total effective sentence and the average non-parole period imposed on people sentenced to imprisonment for armed robbery, 2012–13 to 2016–17

Financial year Average total effective length Average non-parole period
2012–13 3 years and 10 months 2 years and 3 months
2013–14 4 years and 0 months 2 years and 4 months
2014–15 2 years and 10 months 2 years and 4 months
2015–16 2 years and 5 months 2 years and 6 months
2016–17 3 years and 8 months 2 years and 8 months

Further data on total effective sentences of imprisonment and corresponding non-parole periods for armed robbery is available on SACStat.

Non-imprisonment sentences

Data on the length of non-imprisonment sentence types, such as community correction orders, suspended sentences and fines, for armed robbery is available on SACStat.

Summary

From 2012–13 to 2016–17, 988 people were sentenced in the higher courts for armed robbery. Of these people, 730 (74%) 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 3 months, while the median principal imprisonment length was 2 years and 10 months.

Total effective imprisonment lengths ranged from 1 month to 18 years and 2 months, and non-parole periods (where imposed) ranged from 5 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 accused is found to be unfit to stand trial or 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. 186, which describes sentencing trends for armed robbery between 2010–11 and 2014–15.

2. Data on first-instance sentence outcomes presented in this Snapshot was obtained from the Strategic Analysis and Review Team at Court Services Victoria. Data on appeal outcomes was collected by the Sentencing Advisory Council from the Australasian Legal Information Institute, and was also 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 is accurate, the data is 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.

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. An immediate custodial sentence includes imprisonment, imprisonment combined with a community correction order, a youth justice centre order, aggregate imprisonment, aggregate imprisonment combined with a community correction order, an aggregate youth justice centre order, a hospital security order and a custodial supervision order.

7. Suspended sentences have been abolished in the higher courts for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2013 and in the Magistrates’ Court for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.

8. For example, initially the maximum term of imprisonment that could be combined with a community correction order was set at 3 months, but it was increased to 2 years in September 2014 and reduced to 1 year in March 2017.

9. Refer to Endnote 5.

10. Data presented in this section does 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. From 2012–13 to 2016–17, 63 people received an aggregate form of imprisonment.

11. A total of 84 people were not eligible to have a non-parole period fixed because they were given a total effective sentence length of less than 1 year.

12. Twelve 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 82 people who were eligible for a non-parole period.

13. In 2015–16, the average total effective imprisonment length was lower than the average non-parole period. This occurs when a large portion of cases involves offending attracting sentences of less than 1 year’s imprisonment, which are too low to be eligible for a non-parole period.