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4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2010–11 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/02/2012   
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Contents >> Magistrates' Courts >> SENTENCE OUTCOMES


The following information relates to sentence outcomes for defendants proven guilty in the Magistrates' Courts. Sentence refers to the principal sentence a defendant received which is usually, though not necessarily, the sentence associated with the principal offence. See Explanatory Notes paragraphs 45-48 for further information.

Differences in sentencing result from the offence with which the defendant was proven guilty, as well as a range of aggravating and mitigating factors taken into account by the court, such as prior convictions, level of violence, whether the offender was provoked, and demonstrations of remorse. The range of sentences available also differs across states and territories.

Custodial orders

The most serious penalties issued for charges proven in the Magistrates' Courts are custodial sentences. In 2010-11, 9% (41,780) of guilty defendants had custodial orders imposed: 4% were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution; 4% to fully suspended sentences; and 1% were sentenced to custody in the community (Table 3.7).

The proportions of custodial orders varied across the states and territories with the largest proportion in the Northern Territory (32%) and the smallest in Western Australia (5%) (Table 3.3).

Defendants found guilty of the following offences were most likely to receive a custodial order:

  • robbery (99 or 58%);
  • unlawful entry with intent (2,777 or 47%);
  • sexual assault (444 or 43%);
  • homicide (21 or 31%); and
  • acts intended to cause injury (11,178 or 27%).

The types of custodial orders issued varied across principal offences. Custody in a correctional institution was the most common principal sentence for those guilty of robbery and extortion offences (36%), followed by unlawful entry with intent (31%). Sexual assault and homicide were the principal offences with the highest proportions of fully suspended sentences (19% and 18% respectively) (Table 3.7).

DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Selected principal offence by type of custodial order
Graph: DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Selected principal offence by type of custodial order

The proportion of male defendants who received a custodial sentence was double that of women (10% and 5% respectively). Of the 36,158 males who were sentenced to a custodial order, over half (51%) were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution. In contrast, the majority of females issued with custodial orders were given fully suspended sentences (54%) (Table 3.9).

Non-custodial orders

The majority of guilty defendants (91% or 424,374) were given non-custodial sentences, such as community supervision or work orders, monetary orders, or good behaviour bonds. This proportion has not changed since 2005-06.

The most common non-custodial sentence was a monetary order, with over two-thirds (70% or 326,798) of defendants proven guilty receiving this sentence (Table 3.1).

Proportionally, monetary orders were most commonly issued to defendants guilty of traffic offences (83%), public order (77%) and dangerous and negligent acts (76%) (Table 3.7).

Community supervision or work orders were the most common non-custodial sentence for those guilty of robbery and extortion offences (27%) and unlawful entry with intent (23%).

There were some differences across age groups in the types of non-custodial orders issued. Defendants aged under 25 years had a higher proportion of community supervision/work orders (6% of defendants in this age group) than those aged 45 years and over (3%) (Table 3.9).

DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Age groups by selected non-custodial sentences
Graph: DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Age groups by selected non-custodial sentences

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