4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2002-03  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/02/2004   
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February 25, 2004
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

Women more likely to receive a non-custodial sentence

Over one-third of women proven guilty in the Higher Criminal Courts in 2002-03 received a non-custodial sentence, compared to almost one-quarter of men, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Of the 16,643 finalised Higher Criminal Court defendants in 2002-03, almost 90% were finalised by adjudication (proven guilty or acquitted). Of these adjudicated defendants:
  • Nearly nine in ten (87%) defendants were men and half were men aged between 20-34 years;
  • Men were more likely than women to have a principal offence of sexual assault and related offences (12% of men, compared to 1% of women);
  • Women were more likely than men to have a principal offence of deception and related offences (19% of women, compared to 6% of men);
  • Defendants finalised at trial (guilty verdict or acquitted) with a principal offence of homicide and related offences had an acquittal rate of 36%. The acquittal rate for those with a principal offence of sexual assault and related offences was 51%;
  • Most defendants were proven guilty (93%). The proportion of defendants proven guilty was highest for unlawful entry with intent and dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons (both 98%);
  • The proportion of defendants proven guilty for illicit drug offences, theft and related offences, and deception and related offences was 97% each; and
  • Just over half of defendants proven guilty (55%) received custodial orders to be served (excluding fully suspended sentences). For both men and women, these were the main sentence types, although the proportion was higher for men (58%) than women (38%).

Further information is in Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0)