Adult criminal court statistics, 2011/2012
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Adult criminal courts in Canada completed approximately 386,500 cases in 2011/2012, down 6% from the previous year and the lowest number of cases completed since 2006/2007.
The Northwest Territories (-17%) reported the largest drop in cases completed, followed by Prince Edward Island (-13%) and Yukon (-10%). Newfoundland and Labrador (+2%) reported the only increase in 2011/2012, while Quebec remained stable.
There were fewer cases completed involving almost all types of offences in 2011/2012. Cases for impaired driving saw the largest decline in 2011/2012, down about 7,500 cases (-15%) from the previous year. The main exceptions to the decline included unlawfully at large and drug possession cases, which both increased 2% from 2010/2011.
Just over three-quarters (76%) of cases completed in adult criminal courts involved offences that were non-violent in nature. As in previous years, cases involving impaired driving (11%), theft (10%), common assault (10%) and failure to comply with an order (9%) were the most common types of cases completed in adult criminal court.
In 2011/2012, 8 in 10 accused persons were male, a finding that held true regardless of age group. Adults between the age of 18 to 24 years represented 30% of accused persons, yet represented 12% of the Canadian adult population.
Almost two-thirds (64%) of cases completed in 2011/2012 resulted in a finding of guilt, a figure that has remained relatively stable over the past decade. The remainder of cases were stayed, withdrawn, dismissed or discharged (32%), acquitted (3%) or resulted in some other type of decision (1%).
Probation, either on its own or in combination with another type of sentence, continued to be the most common type of sentence in adult criminal courts, imposed in 45% of guilty cases in 2011/2012. The median length of probation was 365 days.
Just over one-third (35%) of guilty offenders received a custody sentence in 2011/2012, the majority (86%) of which were for a term of six months or less. About 10% were sentenced to a period greater than six months to two years less a day and 4% were sentenced to two years or more. The median length of a custody sentence remained consistent with previous years, at 30 days.
The median amount of time to complete an adult criminal court case declined in 2011/2012, down two days from the previous year to 117 days. This represented the third consecutive annual decline, yet remained higher than a decade ago (105 days in 2001/2002).
Note to readers
The data presented in this article are drawn from the adult portion (people 18 years and older) of the Integrated Criminal Court Survey. In 2011/2012, information was unavailable from superior courts in Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well as municipal courts in Quebec. Adult criminal court cases that involve more than one charge are represented by the most serious offence. A completed case is defined as one or more charges against an accused person or company that were processed by the courts at the same time and received a final decision.
The Juristat article "Adult criminal court statistics in Canada, 2011/2012" (Catalogue number85-002-X), is now available. From the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications, choose All subjects, then Crime and justice, and Juristat.
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