Sentencing snapshots


Release date: 25 September 2011

A new series of sentencing reports launched today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research suggests that the courts are much tougher on offenders than many people think.

The Bureau analyzed sentencing patterns during 2009 and 2010 for eight offences: sexual assault, assault, break and enter, child sexual assault, motor vehicle theft, robbery, drink driving and drug offences involving amphetamine importation, distribution and use.

Eighty-six per cent of offenders convicted of aggravated sexual assault received a prison sentence. More than 90 per cent of those convicted of aggravated sexual assault who had prior convictions (for any offence) received a prison sentence.

The average aggregate prison term for those convicted of aggravated sexual assault was more than six years (77.4 months), with an average minimum sentence of just under four years (47.5 months).

Sixty-five per cent of offenders convicted of aggravated break and enter received a prison sentence but a prison sentence was almost certain (95.2%) for those who had been previously imprisoned for break and enter.

The average aggregate sentence for aggravated break and enter was over three years (39.7 months) with an average minimum sentence of 21.3 months.

Three quarters of those convicted of aggravated child sexual assault received a prison sentence. The average aggregate sentence for aggravated child sexual assault was more than five years (68 months), with an average minimum sentence of over three years (39.2 months)

Nearly half (49.5%) of those convicted of theft of a motor vehicle received a prison sentence. Virtually all (96%) of those who had been previously imprisoned for motor vehicle theft received a prison sentence.

The average aggregate prison term for motor vehicle theft was just under three years (34.4 months), with an average minimum term of just under 20 months (19.7 months)

More than three quarters (78.6%) of those convicted of aggravated robbery received a prison sentence. Everyone convicted of aggravated robbery who had been previously imprisoned for robbery received a prison sentence.

The average aggregate prison term for aggravated robbery was just under four years (44 months) with an average minimum sentence of just over two years (25 months).

More than 90 per cent (92.9%) of those convicted of importing/exporting amphetamines, 87.8 per cent of those convicted of manufacturing amphetamines and 56.1 per cent of those convicted of dealing in amphetamines received a prison sentence.

The average aggregate prison terms for these amphetamine offences were108.2 months for importing/exporting, 61.0 months for manufacturing and 42.4 months for dealing.

In only two of the serious offence categories examined by the Bureau, were less than half of the offenders imprisoned. These were for the categories of serious assault and high range drink driving.

About one in five (18.6%) offenders convicted of serious assault causing injury received a prison sentence. However a quarter (24.8%) of those with previous convictions for assault and over three quarters (76.0%) of those imprisoned before for assault received a prison sentence.

The average aggregate prison term for aggravated assault was just under two years (23.4 months). The average minimum sentence was just over a year (13.3 months).

Prison sentences for high range PCA (drink driving) offenders are very rare (2.5%). Most high range PCA offenders lose their license and incur a heavy fine. The average fine for a high range PCA offence is more than $1,000 ($1,043).

Commenting on the figures, the Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, blamed sensationalist media reporting for the impression that the courts treated serious offenders very leniently.

"Some journalists make no distinction between minor and serious forms of a particular offence and/or pay no attention whatsoever to whether the sentence is for a first-time or a repeat offender."

"The inevitable result is that people end up with a distorted impression of court sentencing practice. This then undermines public confidence in the administration of justice."

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 0419-494-408


 

Entire publication

Amphetamines(pdf 592Kb)
Assault(pdf 365Kb)
Break/Enter(pdf 600Kb)
Child Sex Assault(pdf 532Kb)
Motor Vehicle Theft(pdf 768Kb)Drink Driving(pdf 540Kb)
Robbery(pdf 613Kb)
Sexual Assault(pdf 522Kb)