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Criminal Justice Diversion Program (Vic) 2008 Statistical Profile incl. Traffic

Criminal Justice Diversion Program (Vic) 2008 Statistical Profile incl. Traffic

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A statistical profleOctober 2008GeoFisher
The Criminal JusticeDiversion Programin Victoria
Abstract
The Criminal Justice Diversion Program has become an important option or the Magistrates’ Court in dealing with low-leveloending. The imposition o conditions on the deendant can ull purposes such as punishment and denunciation, and the act thatparticipation in the program does not result in a criminal record can have a signicant rehabilitative eect.This statistical prole presents a detailed analysis o data on the use o diversion plans in the Magistrates’ Court.The Magistrates’ Court placed over 5,000 people on a diversion plan in 2006–07. It was the third most common disposition or criminal deendants and comprised 7.2 per cent o all deendants in the Magistrates’ Court in that year. While most (59.4%) were aged between 17 and 29, young deendants (between 17–19 years) and older deendants (65 years andolder) were statistically more likely to be placed on the program than other deendants.Almost three-quarters o deendants placed on the program were male (71.2%); however, emale deendants were statistically morelikely to be placed on the program than male deendants.The most common oence categories or deendants on the program were property oences (35.6%) and trac oences (21.7%).Most deendants were required to complete two or more conditions as part o their diversion plan (56.1%). The most commonconditions were donation (71.7%), letter o apology to victim (33.1%), letter o gratitude to inormant (24.0%) and compensation to the victim (17.7%). While a diversion plan can run or up to one year, just over hal o all diversion plans were required to becompleted within a three to our month period (51.3%).
Contents
Abstract 1Introduction 2The Criminal Justice Diversion Program (CJDP) 2Diversion and Sentencing 3Diversion Deendants 5Diversion Plan Requirements 6Specic Oence Proles 10Specic Deendant Proles 13Summary 19Endnotes 19
Sentencing Advisory CouncilLevel 4, 436 Lonsdale StreetMelbourne Victoria 3000AustraliaTelephone 03 9603 9047Facsimile 03 9603 9030contact@sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.auwww.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au
 
2
Introduction
This statistical prole presents descriptive data on the Criminal Justice Diversion Program (CJDP), the sentencing alternativeoperating out o the Magistrates’ Court o Victoria. Theprole examines 2006–07 data on the types o deendantsand oending or which the program is used, as well as therequirements placed on the program’s participants.The prole begins with an overview o the CJDP, describing itskey eatures and evolution. It then presents data comparing theuse o diversion plans with sentences in the Magistrates’ Courtas well as the percentage o deendants who received a diversionplan according to oence and demographic characteristics. The third section examines data on the population o diversiondeendants, including their oence and demographic proles,while the ourth section explores the conditions placed ondeendants serving diversion plans. The th section examines the use o diversion plans and the diversion population or specic oences, and the nal section analyses specicdeendant groups.
The Criminal Justice DiversionProgram (CJDP)
The CJDP is designed to provide deendants with theopportunity to avoid a criminal record by undertaking specicconditions, such as apologising or paying compensation to thevictim, undertaking counselling and/or community work. Alarge range o conditions is available providing magistrates withfexibility to impose conditions appropriate to the situation.It ocuses on rst-time oenders and those who have committedrelatively minor oences.Diversion can only be considered or a deendant under certainconditions: the oence is triable summarily, the deendantacknowledges responsibility or the oence, there is sucientevidence to gain a conviction and a diversion is appropriate in thecircumstances.
Legislation
The CJDP is governed by section 128A o the
 Magistrates’ Court Act 1989
. The legislation provides that, i a deendantacknowledges responsibility or the oence, the court may adjourn the matter or up to 12 months to enable the deendant to participate in the program.The legislation states that the deendant’s acknowledgemento responsibility does not constitute a ormal plea. With thisunderpinning, there is no nding o guilt against the deendant thatcan subsequently be divulged by police to employers and others.On completing the diversion plan the deendant is dischargedwithout a nding o guilt.Oences punishable by a minimum or xed sentence or penalty are not eligible or diversion, with the exception o loss o demerit points.
History 
The CJDP began as a pilot program in 1997. It initially operatedin Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court and later expanded toSunshine and Mildura.A review o the program in 2000 ound avourably highcompletion rates and low recidivism or people placed ondiversion plans. Widespread expansion ollowed, rstly to allmetropolitan courts in August 2001, then to all country courts inNovember 2001.The program gained ormal ongoing status in July 2003.
Procedure
A deendant is reerred to the diversion program by theprosecution agency, most commonly Victoria Police.Prior to the ormal diversion hearing, a diversion co-ordinator conducts a reerral interview with the deendant. I thedeendant does not appear or does not wish to be consideredor a diversion plan, the charges are reerred back tomainstream court.I it is agreed by all parties at the reerral interview that diversionmay be appropriate, then the matter goes to a magistrate or a decision. In this diversion hearing, the role o the magistrateis to assess the suitability o the deendant or diversion. I thedeendant is reused a diversion plan by the magistrate, thecharges are reerred back to mainstream court.I the magistrate decides to place the deendant on a diversionplan, the charges are adjourned and a return date set. Beore the return date, the deendant is required to undertakeconditions set by the magistrate. Apart rom cases involving anoence without a specic victim (or example, drug oences),victims are consulted on the content o the diversion plan. For example, the value o damaged property may be ascertainedin order or a compensation amount to be set. The court may also undertake to notiy the victim o any outcome i the victimrequests it to do so.I the deendant successully completes the conditions set, thedeendant is discharged on the return date and the outcomeis recorded in a similar manner to a caution. In this way, thecharges do not orm part o the person’s ormal criminal recordand thereore are not available to employers and cannot bealleged as prior oences.
 
A statistical profleOctober 2008GeoFisher
3
 Where the conditions are not completed, the matter is reerredback to the court as i it were the case’s rst listing. However,under section 128A the magistrate must consider the extent towhich the deendant complied with the diversion plan.Figure 1 shows the stages in the diversion process romreerral to completion, along with the numbers o oendersat each stage in 2006–07. As is evident, the majority o deendants who had a diversion hearing received a diversion plan(81.4%), and the vast majority o diversion plans were completed(91.3%).
Figure 1:Number o deendants at each stage o the diversionprocess, 2006–07
Referral7,267No Hearing
(a)
12.0%
(b)
Refused18.6
(c)
Failed8.7%
(d)
MainstreamCourt34.6%
(e)
Div Hearing6,393Accepted5,201Completed4,751
`
(a)
Defendant either decides s/he does not wish to undertake diversionor does not appear at diversion hearing.
(b)
Percentage of referrals.
(c)
Percentage of diversion hearings.
(d)
Percentage of defendants accepted for diversion.
(e)
Percentage of total referrals.
Diversion and Sentencing
This section places the use o diversion plans in a sentencingcontext,
1
rstly by comparing the percentage o deendants whoreceived diversion plans with the percentages who receivedvarious types o sentences, and secondly by examining thepercentage o deendants who received a diversion plan inrelation to their oending and demographic characteristics. Alldata are rom the 2006–07 nancial year and were obtainedrom Court Support and Diversion Services and Courtlink in theDepartment o Justice Victoria.
2
Figure 2 shows the percentage o deendants who received adiversion plan and various sentence types in the Magistrates’Court in 2006–07. Diversion plans were imposed on 5,147deendants
3
and, at 7.2 per cent, they were the third mostcommonly used disposition, behind nes (59.1%) and adjournedundertakings (9.4%).
Figure 2:Percentage o deendants who received a disposition in theMagistrates’ Court according to disposition type, 2006–07
59.19.47.26.76.05.02.11.51.00.90.20102030405060
  F  I  N  A  D  U  D  I  V   W  S  S  C  B  O  I  M  P  I  C  O  D  I  M  C  A  D  P  S  S  D  E  T
       P     e     r     c     e     n      t     a     g     e
Acronyms:FIN = neADU = adjourned undertakingDIV = diversion plan WSS = wholly suspended sentenceCBO = community-based order IMP = imprisonmentICO = intensive correction order DIM = dismissedCAD = convicted and dischargedPSS = partially suspended sentenceDET = youth justice centre order 
Principal oence
A primary consideration or a magistrate when sentencing anoender, or adjourning a matter under section 128, is the oenceor which the person has been ound guilty or or which thedeendant has acknowledged responsibility.This section examines the percentage o deendants who receiveda diversion plan according to ve broad categories into which their principal oence ell (oences against the person, property oences, trac oences, drug oences and other oences).
4
As Figure 3 shows, deendants who received a disposition or property oences were most likely to receive a diversion plan(14.4%) ollowed by oences against the person (10.2%) and drugoences (7.9%), while trac oences were least likely to receivea diversion plan (3.4%). Because the volume o trac oenceswas so high (34,211), their percentage translates into a substantialnumber o diversion plans.
Figure 3:Percentage o all deendants who received a dispositionin the Magistrates’ Court that received a diversion planaccording to principal oence, 2006–07
10.214.43.47.97.70481216Person(n = 6,333)Property (n = 13,343)Trafc(n = 34,211)Drug(n = 3,157)Other (n = 13,915)
       P     e     r     c     e     n      t     a     g     e
In terms o sentence types imposed or these oences, nes were the most common or all oence categories, but particularly or  trac oences (78.0%) and other oences (58.4%).

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