1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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Crime and justice


The length of sentence that is handed down to a defendant who has pleaded guilty to an offence or who has been found guilty of an offence is of interest to the community. The data for sentence length is available for all states and territories excluding Tasmania (which are collectively referred to as Selected states and territories).

A defendant can receive a single sentence for a single offence proven guilty, a single sentence for multiple offences proven guilty, multiple sentences for multiple offences proven guilty and/or multiple sentences for a single offence proven guilty.

In 2009–10, a total of 10,026 defendants were sentenced to a custodial order in Australia's Higher Courts for the selected states and territories. The majority of these defendants (53%) had a sentence imposed of less than 2 years and a further 34% had a sentence imposed of between 2 and 5 years. Less than 1% (61 defendants) were sentenced to a custodial order of 20 years or more.

Five offence types accounted for 79% of defendants sentenced to a custodial order: Illicit drug offences (21%), Acts intended to cause injury (19%), Robbery and extortion (14%), Sexual assault (13%) and Unlawful entry with intent (12%).

The sentence length for these offence types varied (graph 13.22). More than half of the defendants with a principal proven offence of Unlawful entry with intent (61%), Acts intended to cause injury (58%) or Illicit drug offences (53%) had a sentence of less than 2 years, while for Robbery and extortion, the majority of defendants had a sentence of 2 to 5 years (53%).

13.22 SENTENCE LENGTH, Selected principal proven offence


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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.