Sentencing Trend No 5 — Common Offences in the Local Court

Ian MacKinnell

Senior Research Officer (Criminology) 


This paper describes the sentencing patterns for the twenty most common offences dealt with in the Local Courts of New South Wales during 1992. These twenty offences account for more than three-quarters of the criminal matters dealt with in that jurisdiction as recorded by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. Consequently, this paper may be regarded both as an overview of general sentencing practices in the Local Courts, and as a source of information on the sentencing of particular offences that, because of their wide incidence, are of significant interest to Local Courts, criminal justice agencies, the legislature, and the public at large.


There are a number of reasons for presenting this information in the present format. First, many of these offences lend themselves to comparative treatment. For example, almost a quarter of Local Court cases concern three “prescribed concentration of alcohol” (PCA) offences, which differ only in the level of blood alcohol concentration (and maximum penalty available). Secondly, a number of judicial officers, as well as legal officers in various public sector criminal justice agencies, may benefit from a summary of Local Court sentencing patterns. Finally, by focussing on the more common offences, this study may enable individual magistrates to compare their own sentencing practices with those of the magistracy as a whole.