4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2007-08 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/02/2009   
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Contents >> Magistrates' Courts >> SENTENCE OUTCOMES


The following information relates to sentence outcomes for defendants heard 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 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 most serious penalties issued for charges proven in the Magistrates' Courts are custodial sentences. In 2007-08, 8% (45,657) of convicted defendants had custodial orders imposed: 4% sentenced to custody in a correctional institution; 3.5% given fully suspended sentences; and 0.5% sentenced to custody in the community.

Defendants convicted of acts intended to cause injury and road traffic offences each comprised 23% of all defendants given custodial sentences. Defendants convicted of theft accounted for a 10% of custodial sentences.

Of all road traffic offences, driving licence offences had the largest proportion of defendants sentenced to custodial orders (8% or 6,935), followed by exceeding the alcohol limit (6% or 3,535).

The types of custodial orders issued varied across principal offences. Custody in a correctional institution was the most common principal sentence for those convicted of robbery and extortion offences (41%), followed by unlawful entry with intent (33%). Robbery and extortion, and sexual assault offences were the principal offences for which fully suspended sentences were most commonly ordered (both 17%).

DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Selected principal offence by type of custodial order
Graph: GRAPH 2007-08 Magistrates' Courts selected principal offence by custodial orders

Males proven guilty were twice as likely to receive a custodial sentence (10%) than females (5%). The higher proportion of custodial sentences for males was consistent across all principal offences. Custodial orders were issued to just over half (52%) of males proven guilty of unlawful entry with intent, while the same sentence was handed to 41% of females convicted of this offence. Custodial orders were also issued to 30% of males proven guilty of acts intended to cause injury. In contrast, 15% of females convicted of this offence were issued with custodial orders.

Graph: GRAPH 2007-08 Magistrates' Courts proportion sentence to custody by principal offence

Non-custodial orders

The majority of convicted defendants (91% or 495,148) were given non-custodial sentences, such as community supervision or work orders, monetary orders, or good behaviour bonds.

The most common non-custodial sentence was a monetary order, with 73% (or 394,067) of defendants proven guilty receiving this sentence.

Monetary orders were the most common sentence issued to defendants convicted of offences of dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons and road traffic offences (both 85%).

Community supervision or work orders were the most common non-custodial sentence for those convicted of unlawful entry with intent (22%), and robbery and extortion offences (18%).

Of those who received good behaviour bonds (8% or 45,701): 22% had a principal offence of road traffic offences; 21% a principal offence of acts intended to cause injury; and 12% a principal offence of illicit drugs.

DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Selected principal offence by type of non-custodial order
Graph: GRAPH 2007-08 Magistrates' Courts selected principal offence by non-custodial orders

There were some differences across age groups in the types of non-custodial orders issued. Convicted defendants aged under 25 years were the most likely to receive community supervision/work orders (5% of defendants in this age group). Those aged 25 to 34 years were the least likely to receive good behaviour bonds (8%), while those aged 45 years and over were most likely to receive these orders (10%).

DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Age groups by selected non-custodial sentences
Graph: GRAPH 2007-08 Magistrates' Courts age by non-custodial sentences

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