Defined Terms

Penalty Scale is:

*        A scale between 1. (least serious criminal offences) and 7. (most serious criminal offences) outlined in the Sentencing Act 1991 - Victoria; and

*        Listed in the table twds the bottom of Swift, Frightening and Painful Dose of Corporal Punishment).  


The legislation that defines an offence sets the maximum penalty that courts can impose on anyone convicted of that offence.

Maximum penalties are reserved for the worst, most serious examples of an offence. For a single offence, judges and magistrates may not impose a heavier sentence than the maximum penalty for that offence.

Penalty Scale

The maximum penalty reflects parliament’s view on the seriousness of the offence. Maximum penalties for many offences, including all offences in the Crimes Act 1958, are set according to a penalty scale, as outlined in the Sentencing Act 1991.

The penalty scale for imprisonment has nine levels, ranging from Level 9 (which equates to six months’ imprisonment) to Level 1 (life imprisonment). The Victorian penalty scale also includes a maximum fine that can be imposed with each level of imprisonment (except for Level 1 life imprisonment).

Here are some examples of offences ranked according to the penalty scale. 


Maximum term

Sample offences

Level 1

Life imprisonment

Trafficking in a drug of dependence (large commercial quantity)

Level 2

25 years

Sexual penetration of a child under 12 years
Armed robbery
Aggravated burglary
Arson causing death

Level 3

20 years

Intentionally causing serious injury
Culpable driving causing death

Level 4

15 years

Recklessly causing serious injury
Handling stolen goods
Trafficking in a drug of dependence (not a commercial quantity)

Level 5

10 years

Threats to kill
Indecent assault
Negligently causing serious injury
Knowingly possess child pornography

Level 6

5 years

Recklessly causing injury
Possession of a drug of dependence (for the purpose of trafficking)

Level 7

2 years

Going equipped to steal

Level 8

1 year

Cultivation of a narcotic plant (not for the purpose of trafficking)
Possession of a drug of dependence (not for the purpose of trafficking)

Level 9

6 months

Concealing the birth of a child