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4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2008-09 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/03/2010   
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Contents >> Higher Courts >> SENTENCE OUTCOMES

SENTENCE OUTCOMES

The following information relates to sentence outcomes for defendants heard in the Higher Courts. Defendants are referred to as 'convicted' where they were proven guilty of at least one of the final charges laid against them. Sentence refers to the principal sentence a defendant received (refer to Explanatory Notes paragraphs 46-48 for further information).

Differences in sentencing are a result of the offence the defendant was convicted of, 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.


Custodial orders

The majority (85% or 11,439) of defendants proven guilty in 2008-09 received a custodial order. This proportion had increased since 2001-02 when it was 72%. Of defendants proven guilty, 63% were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution; 4% to custody in the community; and 18% were granted fully suspended sentences. These proportions had not changed from 2007-08.

The proportion of convicted defendants who received a custodial sentence in a correctional institution ranged from 30% for public order offences to 77% for robbery and extortion, and 88% for homicide. Defendants convicted of offences against justice procedures, government security and operations were more likely to receive a fully suspended sentence (28%) than defendants with other offences.

DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Selected principal offence by custodial sentence
Graph: DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Selected principal offence by custodial sentence


A greater proportion of males proven guilty received a sentence of custody in a correctional institution than females (64% compared with 52%). A larger proportion of convicted females were given fully suspended sentences than males (23% and 18% respectively).

The proportion of defendants proven guilty receiving a custodial sentence in a correctional institution varied across states and territories, ranging from 40% in the Australian Capital Territory to 84% in the Northern Territory.

DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Custody in corrections by states and territories
Graph: DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Custody in corrections by states and territories



Non-custodial orders

Defendants sentenced to non-custodial orders (community supervision or work orders, monetary orders and other non-custodial orders) accounted for 15% (2,087) of defendants proven guilty in the Higher Courts.

Community supervision or work orders were most commonly issued to defendants convicted of: traffic offences (19%), abduction, harassment and other offences against the person (18%), theft (16%) and property damage and environmental pollution (16%). A greater proportion of defendants convicted of traffic offences (19%) and public order offences (14%) received monetary orders than defendants convicted of other offences.

DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Selected principal offence by non-custodial sentence
Graph: DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Selected principal offence by non-custodial sentence


The proportion of convicted females receiving community supervision or work orders (14%) is almost double the proportion of males (8%). A larger proportion of male and female convicted defendants under 25 years of age received a non-custodial order (45% and 36% respectively), compared with other age groups.






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