Breach of bail offences on the rise

Media release

29 November 2017

The number of offenders sentenced for breach of bail has more than doubled since 2005, increasing year-on-year from 2008.

The average offender is a 30-year-old male. Of all offenders, 95% plead guilty to the breach. Four out of five offenders receive a non-custodial penalty, most likely a fine for adults (average fine $378) and a reprimand for young offenders.

These sentencing trends feature in the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council’s fifth edition of its Sentencing Spotlight series.

The Sentencing Spotlight on breach of bail examines sentencing outcomes for offences finalised in Queensland courts between 1 July 2005 and 30 June 2016.

A/Council Chair Professor Elena Marchetti said: “While under Queensland law, a general presumption exists in favour of granting bail for a defendant awaiting their court hearing, there are exceptions.”

“These are very important exceptions and include when a defendant has been charged with murder, or the court believes they will commit further offences, tamper with witnesses or evidence, or endanger public safety.”

The Sentencing Spotlight provides a summary of the different legislation and sentencing outcomes that apply, an analysis of offender characteristics and the types of sentences offenders receive.

Where breach of bail was an offender’s most serious offence, associated offences included resisting a police officer, offensive behaviour, possessing illicit drugs or breaching a violence order.

Over the 11-year period, two thirds of offenders sentenced for breach of bail offences as their most serious offence were only dealt with for that breach of bail offence.

For adult breach of bail offenders who received a custodial penalty (9934 offenders), the most likely sentence was prison. Of this group, Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander offenders were more likely to be sentenced to prison than non-Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander offenders (64% compared to 56%).

The average length of prison sentence was 1.5 months across all offenders; 1.6 months for non-Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander offenders; and 1.4 months for Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander offenders.

Professor Marchetti added: “While the data shows the incidence of breach of bail is rising, as a Council we are interested in looking beyond the data to find out why this is occurring. For instance, could some of the breaches be attributed to a lack of understanding of sentencing conditions?”

View the Sentencing Spotlight on breach of bail