Adult criminal court statistics in Canada, 2011/2012: highlights

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  • In 2011/2012, about 386,500 cases involving almost 1.2 million Criminal Code and other federal statute offences were completed in Canadian adult criminal courts, representing a 6% decrease from the previous year.
  • All provinces and territories reported a decrease in the number of cases completed, except Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec. The largest declines in 2011/2012 occurred in the Northwest Territories (-17%), Prince Edward Island (-13%) and Yukon (-10%).
  • In 2011/2012, there were fewer cases completed involving almost all types of offences. Cases involving impaired driving saw the largest decline in the number of cases completed, down about 7,500 from the previous year (-15%). The main exceptions were unlawfully at large cases and drug possession cases, which each increased by 2% from 2010/2011.
  • Slightly more than three-quarters (76%) of cases completed in adult criminal courts in 2011/2012 involved offences that were non-violent in nature. Cases for impaired driving, theft, common assault and failure to comply with an order continued to be the most common types of cases in adult court.
  • In 2011/2012, about 8 in 10 cases completed involved a male accused, a finding that held true regardless of the age group.
  • Adult criminal court cases continued to involve a disproportionate number of young adults. In 2011/2012, 30% of cases involved an accused person between the age of 18 and 24 years, yet this age group represented 12% of the adult population.
  • Similar to previous years, just under two-thirds (64%) of all cases completed in 2011/2012 resulted in an outcome of guilt. Guilty outcomes varied by province and territory, with Prince Edward Island reporting the highest proportion of guilty cases (78%), followed closely by Newfoundland and Labrador (77%), New Brunswick (77%) and Quebec (76%). The proportion of guilty outcomes also varied by the type of case, with those for impaired driving resulting in an outcome of guilt most frequently (83%).
  • Probation continued to be the most commonly imposed sentence for adults found guilty in 2011/2012. Overall, the use of probation remained stable from 2010/2011 and was imposed in 45% of guilty cases. The median length of probation for 2011/2012 was 365 days.
  • Custody was the second most frequently imposed sentence in 2011/2012, with approximately one-third (35%) of guilty cases receiving a custodial sentence. The use of custody in Prince Edward Island (67%) continued to be the highest and was almost double the national average (35%). Overall, a sentence of custody was most frequently imposed for accused persons found guilty of being unlawfully at large (85%).
  • The median length of custodial sentences imposed by adult criminal courts in 2011/2012 remained consistent with previous years at 30 days.
  • The median amount of time to complete a case in adult courts in 2011/2012 was 117 days, two days shorter than in 2010/2011. Although the median length of time to complete a case decreased for the third year in a row, it remained higher than a decade ago (105 days).
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