Court of Appeal guideline judgment urges CCOs over jail

In December last year, the Court of Appeal delivered its judgment in Boulton v R [2014] VSCA 342. This was the first ever guideline judgment delivered under Part 2AA of the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic), which allows the Court of Appeal to go beyond the specific circumstances of a case and set out broad principles that should be applied in sentencing. This case considered when and how Community Correction Orders should be imposed. The Sentencing Advisory Council last year noted that CCOs were not being used as widely as parliament had expected, while sentences of imprisonment had increased. Significantly, the Court of Appeal unanimously held “the CCO offers the sentencing court the best opportunity to promote, simultaneously, the best interests of the community and the best interests of the offender and of those who are dependent on him/her” and should be considered as an alternative to imprisonment. Rejecting an argument that jail should be the primary way to achieve the sentencing purpose of punishment, the Court said “a CCO … is punitive in nature, and is intended — and expected — to operative punitively for every day of its operation.”