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Common Offences and the Use of Imprisonment in the District and Supreme Courts in 2002

NCJ Number
Jason Keane; Patrizia Poletti; Hugh Donnelly
Date Published
March 2004
15 pages
This document analyzes sentencing in the New South Wales District and Supreme Courts in 2002, with emphasis on the 20 most common offenses.
The 20 most common offenses included 5 offenses relating to supply, importation, and distribution of prohibited drugs; 5 offenses against the person including murder, sexual assault, and other assaults and wounding offenses; 4 robbery offenses; 2 break and enter offenses; 1 fraud offense; and 1 weapons offense. Almost 70 percent of all sentences were sentences of full-time imprisonment. There has been a gradual increase in the use of imprisonment in the past decade. For non-consecutive cases, the median full term was 36 months and the median non-parole period was 18 months in each year since 1996. This could be attributed to the increased use of imprisonment for offenses that previously attracted alternatives to imprisonment. More offenders are being imprisoned for short periods, which my be having the statistical effect of stabilizing the median sentence. Another factor that may affect median sentence levels for each offense is the increased frequency of judges finding special circumstances. Special circumstances were found in 87.1 percent of cases. The degree of departure from the 75 percent statutory norm was significant. Sentences were most commonly structured so that the non-parole period was 50 percent of the full term of sentence. The 20 most commonly sentenced offenses in the District and Supreme Courts have not changed greatly over the past decade. 1 figure, 2 tables