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4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2010–11 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/06/2012   
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Contents >> Sentence length >> DEFENDANTS SENTENCED TO A CUSTODIAL ORDER

DEFENDANTS SENTENCED TO A CUSTODIAL ORDER

Summary

In 2010–11, there were a total of 52,584 defendants sentenced to a custodial order in Australia's criminal courts. The majority of these defendants (91% or 48,016) had a sentence imposed of less than 2 years and a further 6% (3,232) had a sentence imposed of between 2 and under 5 years. Just 1% (281 defendants) were sentenced to a custodial order of 20 years or more. The mean sentence length for all defendants was 10 months.

Defendants finalised in the Higher Courts were more likely to have a longer sentence imposed than defendants in the Magistrates' and Children's Courts. In 2010–11, 9,950 defendants were sentenced to a custodial order in the Higher Courts. Of these, 30% (2,960) had a sentence imposed of between 2 and under 5 years, while a further 9% (900) had a sentence imposed of between 5 and under 10 years and 4% (384) were sentenced to a custodial order of 10 years or more.

In the Magistrates' and Children's Courts, the majority of defendants sentenced to a custodial order had a sentence imposed of under 3 months (43% and 40% respectively).

In the Higher Courts, the mean sentence length for finalised defendants was 28 months, compared with 6 months in both the Magistrates' Courts and Children's Courts.

Principal proven offence

Across all criminal courts, a high proportion of defendants with a principal proven offence of homicide had sentences of 5 years or more (49%), followed by defendants with a principal proven of sexual assault (15%). The median sentence length was longest for homicide (57 months), followed by robbery and extortion (18 months) and sexual assault (14 months).

In the Higher Courts, five offence types accounted for over three-quarters of defendants sentenced to a custodial order: illicit drug offences (23%), acts intended to cause injury (22%), sexual assault (14%), robbery and extortion (13%) and unlawful entry with intent (8%). Over half of the defendants with a principal proven offence of illicit drug offences (61%), acts intended to cause injury (61%) and sexual assault (56%) had a sentence of less than 2 years. While for robbery and extortion the highest proportion of defendants had a sentence of 2 to under 5 years (48%).



SENTENCE LENGTH, Selected principal proven offence – Higher Courts



In the Magistrates' Courts, five offence types accounted for almost three-quarters of defendants sentenced to a custodial order: acts intended to cause injury (27%), traffic offences (21%), theft (9%), dangerous or negligent acts (9%) and unlawful entry with intent (8%). For all these offences, except unlawful entry with intent, the sentence length with the highest proportion of defendants was less than 3 months. Proportions ranged from 34% for defendants with a principal proven offence of acts intended to cause injury to 52% for defendants with a principal proven offence of theft and traffic. For unlawful entry with intent the sentence length with the highest proportion of defendants was between 6 and under 12 months.

SENTENCE LENGTH, Selected principal proven offence – Magistrates' Court



In the Children's Courts, three offence types accounted for the majority of defendants sentenced to a custodial order: acts intended to cause injury (35%), unlawful entry with intent (24%) and robbery and extortion (12%). For acts intended to cause injury and robbery and extortion, the sentence length with the highest proportion of defendants was 6 months and over (40% and 50% respectively). For unlawful entry with intent, the sentence length with the highest proportion of defendants was less than 3 months (46%).

SENTENCE LENGTH, Selected principal proven offence – Children's Court




Principal sentence

A custodial order is an order requiring a person to have restricted liberty for a specified period of time, either through detainment in a correctional institution, or being subject to regular supervision within the community. These orders are further broken down into the following categories:

  • custody in a correctional institution (includes imprisonment with a determined term and periodic detention);
  • custody in the community (includes intensive corrections orders and home detention); and
  • fully suspended sentences.

In 2010–11, in all criminal courts, 52% (27,529) of defendants sentenced to a custodial order were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution. The highest proportions of these defendants had a principal proven offence of: acts intended to cause injury (29%), unlawful entry with intent (11%) and illicit drug offences (9%).

Defendants sentenced to custody in a correctional institution generally had the longest sentences, with a median sentence length of 7 months. In comparison, defendants sentenced to custody in the community and defendants with a fully suspended sentence both had median sentence lengths of 4 months.

Higher Courts

In the Higher Courts, 71% (7,077) of defendants sentenced to a custodial order were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution. The highest proportions of these defendants had a principal proven offence of acts intended to cause injury (23%), illicit drug offences (21%), robbery and extortion (15%) and sexual assault (14%).

Defendants sentenced to custody in a correctional institution had the longest sentences, with a median sentence length of 27 months, compared with defendants with a fully suspended sentence (12 months) and defendants sentenced to custody in the community (1 month).


TYPE OF SENTENCE, Mean and median sentence length – Higher Courts



Magistrates' Courts

In the Magistrates' Courts, 48% (19,069) of defendants sentenced to a custodial order were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution. Four offence types accounted for the majority of these defendants: acts intended to cause injury (31%), traffic offences (12%), unlawful entry with intent (11%) and theft (10%).

Defendants sentenced to custody in a correctional institution had a slightly longer median sentence length (6 months), compared with defendants sentenced to custody in the community and defendants with a fully suspended sentence (both 4 months).


TYPE OF SENTENCE, Mean and median sentence length – Magistrates' Courts




Children's Courts

In the Children's Courts, 52% (1,379) of defendants sentenced to a custodial order were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution. Three offence types accounted for the majority of these defendants: acts intended to cause injury (31%), unlawful entry with intent (27%) and robbery and extortion (14%).

Defendants sentenced to custody in the community had the longest sentences, with a median sentence length of 9 months, compared with defendants sentenced to custody in a correctional institution (4 months) and defendants with a fully suspended sentence (3 months).


TYPE OF SENTENCE, Mean and median sentence length – Children's Courts




States and territories

Of the 52,584 defendants sentenced to a custodial order in Australia's criminal courts, over half were sentenced in New South Wales (29% or 15,147), Queensland (22% or 11,459) and Victoria (21% or 11,178). These states were followed by Western Australia (11% or 5,539) and South Australia (10% or 5,151).

The median sentence length was longest for defendants sentenced to a custodial order in the Australian Capital Territory (15 months), New South Wales (9 months) and Western Australia (8 months) and shortest in Tasmania (2 months) and Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory (all 3 months).

Higher Courts

Of the 9,950 defendants sentenced to a custodial order in Australia’s Higher Courts, over half were sentenced in Queensland (28% or 2,833) and New South Wales (25% or 2,506). These states were followed by Victoria (17% or 1,729), Western Australia (15% or 1,479) and South Australia (11% or 1,073).

The sentence length with the highest proportion of defendants was less than one year in South Australia (57%), Queensland (51%) and the Australian Capital Territory (45%). While the sentence length with the highest proportion of defendants was between 1 and under 2 years in Western Australia (31%), New South Wales and Victoria (both 30%). Sentence lengths were the longest in the Northern Territory, with 29% of defendants having a sentence length of 5 years or more.

The median sentence length was longest for defendants sentenced to a custodial order in New South Wales and the Northern Territory (34 months and 30 months respectively) and shortest in South Australia (4 months).


STATES AND TERRITORIES, Mean and median sentence length – Higher Courts



Magistrates' Courts

Of the 39,960 defendants sentenced to a custodial order in Australia’s Magistrates' Courts, over half were sentenced in New South Wales (29% or 11,682), Victoria (22% or 8,817) and Queensland (21% or 8,291). These states were followed by South Australia (10% or 3,831) and Western Australia (9% or 3,707).

Across most of the states and territories the sentence length with the highest proportion of defendants was less than 3 months in Tasmania (79%), South Australia (66%), Victoria (64%), the Northern Territory (63%) and Queensland (45%). In Western Australia and New South Wales the majority of defendants had a sentence length of between 6 and under 12 months (52% and 50% respectively).

The median sentence length was longest for defendants sentenced to a custodial order in New South Wales and Western Australia (9 months and 7 months respectively) and shortest in Tasmania and the Northern Territory (both 2 months).


STATES AND TERRITORIES, Mean and median sentence length – Magistrates' Courts



Children's Courts

Of the 2,677 defendants sentenced to a custodial order in Australia’s Children's Courts, over half were sentenced in New South Wales (35% or 948) and Victoria (23% or 617). These states were followed by Western Australia (13% or 343), Queensland (13% or 337) and South Australia (8% or 225).

Across most of the states and territories the sentence length with the highest proportion of defendants was less than 3 months. This ranged from 79% in Queensland, 71% in South Australia, 65% in Tasmania, 60% in the Northern Territory to 34% in New South Wales. In Victoria and Western Australia most defendants had a sentence of between 6 and 12 months (59% and 32% respectively).

The median sentence length was longest for defendants sentenced to a custodial order in Victoria and Western Australia (9 months and 7 months respectively) and shortest in Tasmania and the Northern Territory (both 2 months).


STATES AND TERRITORIES, Mean and median sentence length – Children's Courts


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