SACStat Frequently Asked Questions

What Is SACStat?

SACStat is a publicly available online tool for accessing aggregate statistics on sentences imposed in Victorian criminal courts. SACStat has two modules, one for the higher courts (Supreme and County Courts) and one for the Magistrates’ Court.

What Time Period Does SACStat Cover?

The two modules of SACStat cover sentences imposed over different time periods:

  • SACStat – Higher Courts  - data for the five years to 30 June 2015
  • SACStat – Magistrates’ Court  - data for the three years to 30 June 2014.

What Offences Are Included?

SACStat – Higher Courts includes data for nearly 200 different offences sentenced under Victorian legislation, Commonwealth legislation, and common law. To be included, an offence must have had at least 10 charges sentenced in the higher courts of Victoria over the five-year period.

SACStat – Magistrates’ Court includes data for nearly 500 different offences sentenced under Victorian legislation and common law. To be included, an offence must have had at least 40 charges sentenced in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria over the three-year period.

How Do I Find An Offence?

The Legislation Index lists every offence in SACStat under the Act of parliament in which it appears. Legislation is listed in alphabetical order and offences are in the order of their section number in the particular Act. Common law offences are in alphabetical order under the common law heading.

The Offence Search function is useful if you are unsure which Act an offence is in. Offence Search will return matches for all or part of a search term, so you can search using some or all words from the offence name. Words entered must be spelled correctly.

Having found the offence of interest through either the Legislation Index or Offence Search, clicking on the offence name will open sentencing statistics for that offence.

What Is the Difference Between a Charge and a Case?

Courts impose sentences on both cases and charges. The data in SACStat includes counts for both charges and cases:

  • a charge is a single proven count of an offence
  • a case is a collection of one or more charges against a person sentenced at the one hearing.

The sentence imposed on a case, known as the total effective sentence (TES), is an aggregate of the sentences imposed on an offender for all of the charges for which they are sentenced at the one sentencing hearing. The TES takes into account whether the court orders sentences to be served wholly or partially concurrently (at the same time) or cumulatively (added up).

For a case involving a single charge, the total effective sentence is the sentence imposed for that charge.

What Is a Principal Offence?

Where a case contains only one offence, that offence is the principal offence. However, cases often comprise multiple offences. In such cases, the principal offence is the offence associated with the charge that received the most severe sentence in that case.

Where charges of multiple offence types receive a sentence of the same severity, the offence ranked lowest on the National Offence Index is the principal offence.

SACStat – Higher Courts uses the principal offence as the offence that represents a case.

In SACStat – Magistrates’ Court, cases are defined by each offence type that occurred rather than the principal offence.

What Data Are Included for Each Offence?

For both cases and charges, SACStat presents data on sentence type and sentence quantum (length or amount). Data presented for sentence type include the percentage of cases/charges that received a given sentence type.

Data presented for sentence quantum include, for each sentence type, the percentage of cases/charges that received a given range of sentence quantum. In addition, SACStat – Higher Courts includes summary statistics on sentence quantum, such as the median and maximum quantum imposed.

Case-level sentencing data are available for subgroups of age and gender.

Does SACStat Include Sentences Adjusted on Appeal?

SACStat – Higher Courts incorporates decisions made by the Court of Appeal as of the end of the reference period. SACStat – Magistrates’ Court does not take appeal decisions into account.

Why Can’t I Find the Offence I’m Looking For?

If you are unable to find an offence in the Legislation Index, it may be because there have not been at least 40 charges of that offence sentenced in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria or at least 10 charges of that offence sentenced in the higher courts in the reference period.

If a search query fails to return an exact match, check your spelling, or try typing in part of the word. SACStat search does not support Boolean operators (e.g. AND, OR, NOT, or NEAR).

Where Can I Find Out More Information About SACStat?

User manuals are available for both modules of SACStat. These are located on the SAC website.

The Methodology and Glossary pages in both modules of SACStat contain more detailed information on concepts and counting rules used in SACStat.

If you need more help, contact the Sentencing Advisory Council via our Contact Us page.