SENTENCING REFORM FOR STATE’S MOST SERIOUS CRIMES

The Andrews Labor Government today announced plans to reform Victoria’s sentencing laws and abolish baseline sentencing provisions.

Attorney-General Martin Pakula said a standard sentence scheme aimed at increasing sentences for 12 of the state’s most serious crimes, including murder, rape and sexual offences involving children would be developed.

Under the proposed scheme, a ‘standard sentence’ will be created to represent the mid-point of seriousness for specific offences and be calculated at 40 per cent of the maximum penalty.

For example, the maximum sentence for the sexual penetration of a child under 12 is 25 years imprisonment, making the standard sentence for that offence 10 years imprisonment.

Courts will be required to consider standard sentencing, as determined by the Parliament alongside other relevant factors in arriving at the appropriate sentence in a given case.

Courts will also be asked to provide reasons for departures from standard sentence lengths.

The reforms incorporate recommendations made in the Sentencing Advisory Council (SAC) Sentencing Guidance in Victoria Report, released today.

The Government asked the SAC to provide advice on sentencing laws following a ruling by the Court of Appeal in November last year that the baseline sentence provisions introduced in 2014 were “incapable of being given any practical operation”.

Following that ruling, the Director of Public Prosecutions agreed to disregard the baseline provisions and they have remained, inactive, on the statute books.

Of the 18 recommendations in the SAC review, the Government accepted 13 in full, two with modifications and the remaining three are being considered further.

Quotes attributable to Attorney General Martin Pakula

“We thank the Sentencing Advisory Council for its work in providing guidance on this important issue and we will now begin reforming key aspects of our sentencing laws.”

“The introduction of a standard sentence scheme will help increase sentences for the most serious crimes, including murder, rape and sexual offences involving children.”

“It is crucial that there are consistent sentencing practices for serious offenders and that those sentences are in line with community expectations.”

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