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