4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2015-16 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/03/2017   
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SENTENCE LENGTH AND FINE AMOUNT

This chapter presents statistics about sentence lengths and fine amounts handed down to defendants proven guilty in all state and territory criminal courts in Australia for the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 for all states and territories except the Tasmanian Higher Criminal Courts, for which data are not available. Data also exclude defendants sentenced to life and indeterminate imprisonment and therefore numbers do not align with those presented in the other chapters.

Data presented refer to the principal sentence, which is the most serious sentence type imposed on a defendant, and the length or amount of this principal sentence. To provide a direct relationship between offences and sentences, the principal proven offence is then derived by taking the offence associated with this principal sentence. Where a principal sentence covers more than one offence, the sentence length or fine amount and seriousness of the offence are taken into account to select the principal proven offence.

CUSTODY IN A CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION

The median sentence length for defendants sentenced to custody in a correctional institution in 2015–16 remained unchanged compared with 2014–15 at:
  • 30 months for the Higher Courts; and
  • 6 months for the Magistrates’ Courts and Children’s Courts. (Tables 48a-c in the 2015–16 issue; Tables 47a-c in the 2014–15 issue)

The median sentence length for defendants sentenced to custody in a correctional institution at the All Courts level ranged from 3 months in the Northern Territory to 12 months in New South Wales. The median sentence length for South Australia decreased by 1 month to 5 months, while the length for the remaining states and territories remained unchanged. (Table 48d in the 2015–16 issue; Table 47d in the 2014–15 issue)

Graph Image for MEDIAN LENGTH OF CUSTODY IN A CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, Selected principal proven offence, 2015-16

Source(s): Criminal Courts, Australia


The median sentence length for defendants sentenced to custody in a correctional institution varied depending on principal proven offence. In 2015–16, defendants with a principal proven offence of Homicide and related offences were sentenced to a median length of 96 months. In contrast, defendants with a principal proven offence of Public order offences were sentenced to a median length of 3 months. (Table 48d)

Of defendants sentenced to Custody in a correctional institution in 2015–16:
  • 62% (25,382) were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of less than 12 months;
  • 22% (9,081) were sentenced to a term of imprisonment between 1 and 2 years; and
  • 15% (6,293) were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 2 years and over. (Table 48d)

Of these, 4% (1,622 defendants) were sentenced to Juvenile detention. These defendants were more likely to be sentenced to shorter terms of imprisonment. Of the defendants sentenced to Juvenile detention in 2015–16:
  • 74% (1,193) were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of less than 12 months;
  • 24% (385) were sentenced to a term of imprisonment between 1 and 2 years; and
  • 3% (43) were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 2 years and over. (Table 47)

Graph Image for PROPORTION OF DEFENDANTS FINALISED, Sentence length ranges by selected principal sentence, 2015-16

Source(s): Criminal Courts, Australia


COMMUNITY SERVICE ORDERS

The median sentence length for defendants sentenced to community service orders for All Courts has remained unchanged at 80 hours in 2015–16 compared with 2014–15. (Table 49 in the 2015–16 issue; Table 48 in the 2014–15 issue)

The most prevalent principal proven offences for which defendants were sentenced to community service orders were:
  • Acts intended to cause serious injury (21% or 4,130 defendants) with a median sentence length of 100 hours;
  • Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences (15% or 3,038 defendants) with a median sentence length of 100 hours; and
  • Theft and related offences (11% or 2,226 defendants) with a median sentence length of 60 hours. (Table 49)

Graph Image for MEDIAN LENGTH OF COMMUNITY SERVICE ORDERS, Most prevalent principal proven offences, 2015-16

Source(s): Criminal Courts, Australia


FINES

The median fine imposed for those defendants given a principal sentence of a fine was $471 in 2015–16, an increase of $21 on the previous year. Median fine amounts varied depending on court level:
  • $1,500 in the Higher Courts;
  • $477 in the Magistrates’ Courts; and
  • $200 in the Children’s Courts. (Table 50 in the 2015–16 issue; Table 49 in the 2014–15 issue)

In the Magistrates’ Courts, the highest median fine amounts were given for the following principal proven offences:
  • Sexual assault and related offences ($1,000);
  • Dangerous and negligent acts endangering persons ($1,000); and
  • Unlawful entry with intent/burglary, break and enter ($800). (Table 50)

Graph Image for MEDIAN VALUE OF FINE, Selected principal proven offences by Selected court level, 2015-16

Source(s): Criminal Courts, Australia


In the Higher Courts, the highest median fine amount was given for Fraud, deception and related offences ($10,000), representing an increase of $4,000 compared with 2014–15. (Table 50 in the 2015–16 issue; Table 49 in the 2014–15 issue)

Graph Image for MEDIAN VALUE OF FINE, Selected principal proven offences, Higher Courts, 2014-15 to 2015-16

Source(s): Criminal Courts, Australia