In what situations does an accused person face a mandatory sentence for a burglary offence, and what penalty do they face?
In late 2015, the Parliament of Western Australia enacted the Criminal Law Amendment (Home Burglary and Other Offences) Act 2015. This law dramatically changed the sentences that must be imposed for a wide variety of home burglary offences. It made it mandatory for courts to impose minimum terms for a number of different burglary offences.
Accused persons facing burglary charges which carry a mandatory term of imprisonment now face a difficult situation. If they plead guilty or go to trial, ultimately, they are facing the same minimum term if convicted, regardless of their plea and regardless of the facts of the case.
An accused person needs to be aware of whether they are facing a mandatory penalty. This will significantly dictate the way in which they approach the defence of the charge.
This article outlines the burglary offences which now carry a mandatory penalty.
Murder committed during a burglary
If an accused is charged with murder, and the court decides not to impose life imprisonment, there is a mandatory term of 15 years’ imprisonment if the murder was committed during a burglary.
Prior to the legislation change, persons charged with murder who a court decided not to sentence to life imprisonment, only faced a penalty of up to 20 years, with no mandatory minimum.
For juvenile offenders, there is a minimum term of at least 3 years detention or imprisonment, and a conviction must be recorded.
Manslaughter committed during a home burglary
Similar to murder, manslaughter offenders who commit the offence during a home burglary must receive a minimum of 15 years.
Again, juveniles face a minimum 3 years detention or imprisonment and a conviction must be recorded.
Unlawful assault causing death committed during a home burglary
Offenders who commit the offence of unlawful assault causing death during a burglary must receive a minimum of 15 years’ imprisonment.
Attempted murder committed during a home burglary
Offenders who commit the offence of attempted murder during a burglary must receive a minimum of 15 years’ imprisonment.
Grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent committed during a home burglary
GBH with intent committed during a home burglary results in a minimum term of 15 years’ imprisonment.
Grievous bodily harm committed during a home burglary
GBH committed during a home burglary carries a mandatory term of 7.5 years’ imprisonment.
If it is aggravated GBH, the mandatory term is 10.5 years.
Sexual offences committed during a home burglary
There are a wide variety of sexual offences which, if committed during a home burglary, carry mandatory terms of imprisonment.
The mandatory term is generally 75% of the maximum penalty for the offence. For example, if the offence committed is aggravated sexual penetration without consent, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years, the mandatory minimum where the offence occurs during a home burglary is 15 years imprisonment.
“Third striker” burglary offences
The legislation also increased the mandatory minimums for third striker burglary offenders. Where a person is a third striker and commits a home burglary, they generally face a mandatory minimum term of 2 years imprisonment.
The term differs if the burglary was committed before the amending legislation came into effect, or if the offender was a juvenile.
It is critical for an accused person to identify whether the burglary charge they are facing carries a mandatory minimum penalty. If it does, the next step is to identify whether the evidentiary basis for such a charge is even present in the first place. The presence of a mandatory term will heavily dictate the manner in which you go about defending your matter.
If you require expert advice about whether you are facing a mandatory minimum term for a burglary offence, and want to know how to go about defending such a charge, don’t hesitate to contact James Jackson Criminal Defence today.