Thursday, October 26, 2017

Statistics Canada Article on Court Outcomes of Police-Reported Sexual Assaults in Canada

The Statistics Canada publication Juristat has published an article entitled From arrest to conviction: Court outcomes of police-reported sexual assaults in Canada, 2009 to 2014.

From the summary:
"While conviction rates and severity of sentencing outcomes are often used as measures of criminal justice, neither take into account the potentially large volume of cases that never made it to court. For the first time, this Juristat measures the 'fall-out' of sexual assault cases in the Canadian criminal justice system in order to provide vital context for how sexual assaults are handled in the justice system. Using linked data from police services and criminal courts, this study presents new findings on the attrition rate of sexual assaults as well as court outcomes for those that make it to court. Attrition and conviction outcomes are also analyzed by characteristics of the sexual assault incident (e.g., location, weapon use, delay in reporting to police), the accused, the victim (e.g., age, sex, physical injury), and the relationship between them in order to provide more detail on how certain factors may be related to a higher likelihood of dropping out of the justice system. Findings are compared with physical assault outcomes where appropriate in order to provide an analytical reference point."
Among the highlights:
  • Over a six‑year period between 2009 and 2014, sexual assault cases experienced attrition at all levels of the criminal justice system: an accused was identified in three in five (59%) sexual assault incidents reported by police; less than half (43%) of sexual assault incidents resulted in a charge being laid; of these, half (49%) proceeded to court; of which just over half (55%) led to a conviction; of which just over half (56%) were sentenced to custody.
  • Overall, one in five (21%) sexual assaults reported by police led to a completed court case within the six‑year reference period. This is compared with nearly double the proportion (39%) of physical assaults.
  • About 1 in 10 (12%) sexual assaults reported by police led to a criminal conviction, and 7% resulted in a custody sentence. This is compared with 23% and 8%, respectively, for physical assaults.
  • Three in five (60%) sexual assault charges recommended by police were changed to another offence type once in court; most were changed to other types of sexual offences, physical assault, or administration of justice‑related offences.
  • When compared with physical assaults, sexual assaults were far more prone to dropping out of the justice system between police and court: while three‑quarters (75%) of physical assaults proceeded to court after being charged by police, only half (49%) of sexual assaults did.
  • Of incidents retained in the justice system, sexual assaults were marginally less likely than physical assaults to result in conviction (55% versus 59%), but if convicted, were far more likely to result in a custody sentence (56% versus 36%). It may be suggested that the small proportion of sexual assaults that proceed to court are among the most serious in nature or have the greatest likelihood of conviction based on available evidence, which may explain why conviction rates are similar and sentencing outcomes are harsher when compared with physical assaults.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:32 pm


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