SACStat Frequently Asked Questions

What Is SACStat?

Sentencing Advisory Council Statistics Online (SACStat) is a publicly available online tool for accessing data on sentences imposed in the Victorian higher courts (the Supreme and County Courts) and the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

What Time Period Does SACStat Cover?

Data in SACStat covers sentences imposed over different time periods for the two court levels:

  • the higher courts data covers the five years to 30 June 2016
  • the Magistrates’ Court data covers the three years to 30 June 2016.

What Offences Are Included in SACStat?

The higher courts data includes approximately 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.

The Magistrates’ Court data includes approximately 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.

What Data Is Included for Each Offence?

SACStat presents data on sentence type and sentence length and fine amount for cases and charges. Data on sentence type includes the percentage of cases or charges that received a given sentence type.

Data on sentence length and fine amount includes the percentage of cases or charges that received a given range of sentence length or fine amount for each sentence type. In addition, higher courts data includes summary statistics on sentence lengths and fine amounts, such as the median and maximum sentence imposed.

Sentencing data grouped by age and gender is also available at a case level.

How Do I Find An Offence?

In SACStat, each court level has its own legislation index and offence search.

Legislation indexes list every offence on SACStat under the Acts or Regulations of Parliament in which the offence operates. Acts and Regulations are listed in alphabetical order, and offences are listed according to the section in the Act or Regulation. Common law offences are in alphabetical order under ‘common law’.

Offence search is useful if you are unsure which Act or Regulation an offence is under. Offence search returns matches for all or part of a search term.

Once you have found an offence using a legislation index or offence search, clicking on the offence name will take you to 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 the overall sentence imposed on an offender for all of their charges at the one hearing. The total effective sentence takes into account whether the court has ordered individual sentences for each charge to be served concurrently (at the same time) or cumulatively (one after the other).

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.  Where a case comprises multiple offences, the principal offence is the offence associated with the case that received the most severe sentence.

Where charges of different offence types in a case received a sentence of the same severity, the offence ranked lowest on the National Offence Index is the principal offence.

Higher courts data uses the principal offence as the offence that represents a case.

Magistrates’ Court data does not use the principal offence. Instead, each different offence sentenced in a case is counted once, regardless of the number of charges of that offence type in the case.

Does SACStat Include Sentences Adjusted on Appeal?

Higher courts data incorporates decisions made by the Court of Appeal as at the end of December 2016. Magistrates’ Court data 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 a legislation index, it may be because there have not been at least 40 charges of that offence sentenced in the Magistrates’ Court 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 a word (e.g. ‘caus’ for ‘cause’ or ‘causing’). SACStat search does not support Boolean operators (e.g. AND, OR, NOT or NEAR).

Where Can I Find Out More About SACStat?

We have prepared an Instruction Manual to help you use SACStat.

Our SACStat Methodology and Glossary pages contain detailed information on concepts and counting rules used in SACStat.