Sentencing trends for 2005–06 to 2022–23

Our interactive graphs show sentencing trends by court level, offence type, and penalties between 2005–06 and 2022–23.

Tap or hover on any chart for more information.

Number of sentencing events by level of court

In 2022–23, Queensland's criminal courts sentenced 119,727 cases, with 95.4% of these sentenced in the Magistrates Courts.

The number of cases sentenced in the Magistrates Courts increased by 5.1% in 2022–23 (from 108,768 cases in 2021–22 to 114,261 in 2022–23).

Over the same period, the number of sentenced cases in the higher courts decreased by 6.2% (from 5,825 to 5,466 cases). In the District Court, cases decreased by 5.1% (from 4,680 to 4,440 case), while in the Supreme Court cases decreased by 10.4% (from 1,145 to 1,026 cases).

Types of offences sentenced over time

Adult offending

For adults sentenced in the higher courts, drug offences continue to be the most common type of offence sentenced, although the most recent year saw a reduction of 17.0%.

In the Magistrates Courts, traffic and vehicle offences (such as driving without a licence, or vehicle offences involving alcohol or other drugs) were the most common offences sentenced, followed by justice and government offences (such as breaching a court order or breaching bail), with cases involving both of these offence categories increasing (by 12.0% and 7.6% respectively).

By contrast, cases involving drug offences and public order offences decreased (by 3.7% and 4.0% respectively).

Child offending

For children sentenced in the higher courts, robbery remained the most common offence with an increase of 14.6% (from 315 to 361 cases) from the previous year. This is lower than the peak of 396 cases observed in 2019–20.

In the Magistrates Courts theft offences (which includes motor vehicle theft) remained the most common. Unlawful entry increased by 6.7%.

Number of penalties given over time

This data refers to the most serious penalty that is imposed on an offender at court on a particular day.

Adult penalties

In the higher courts, imprisonment was the most common penalty imposed on adults, although the number of imprisonment sentences decreased by 5.8% from the previous year. This decrease was due to the overall decline in the total number of cases sentenced in the higher courts. The proportion of imprisonment sentences in the higher courts actually increased by 1.2% from last year, with imprisonment now making up 56.2% of cases sentenced in 2022–23.

In the Magistrates Courts, the most common penalty imposed on adults was a monetary order, such as a fine, compensation, or restitution order, with 65.8% of all cases receiving this outcome as their most serious penalty.

Almost 1 in 10 adults in the Magistrates Courts were sentenced to imprisonment in 2022–23 (9.0%, 9,838 cases). This was an increase of 15.9% from the previous year (8,488 to 9,838 cases).

Child penalties

Sentencing laws are different for children, who are sentenced under the Youth Justice Act 1992 (Qld).

Probation was the most common sentence imposed on children in the higher courts (48.7% of all cases in 2022–23).

There were 86 detention orders made in the higher courts in 2022–23, making it the second most common sentence and accounting for 14.7% of total sentences.

In the Magistrates Courts, most children were reprimanded. Orders of probation and court diversion referral were also common.

There were 263 detention orders made in the Magistrates Courts – an increase of 9.1% from the previous year. Overall, 4.8% of children sentenced in the Magistrates Courts received detention.


How is the data counted:

Chart 1: 'Number of sentencing events by level of court'

The first chart on this page has three different measures which you can toggle between: cases, offenders and offences.

  • Cases refers to the number of final court appearances in which a final sentence was imposed for one or more offences. A single offender may appear in multiple cases over the reporting period.
  • Offenders refers to the unique count of individuals sentenced in each financial year.
  • Offences are proven charges that resulted in a penalty being imposed.

Chart 2: 'Types of offences sentenced over time'

The second chart on this page provides a count of cases by type of offence. As described above, a case is a court hearing which resulted in a sentencing being imposed. Importantly, if a case involves multiple types of offences, it will be counted in each of the offence categories. This means that the total number of cases in this table will exceed the total number of cases reported in the first table on this page.

As described in the previous bullet point, the second chart on this page reports on high level categories of offences. These offences are classified according to the Australian Standard Offence Classification – Queensland Extension (QASOC). For more information on this classification scheme, visit the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office website.

Chart 3: 'Number of penalties given over time'

The third chart on this page provides a count of cases by type of penalty. While a case may contain multiple penalties, for the purposes of this analysis, we count only the most serious offence (MSO) sentenced in each case. The MSO is the offence which received the most serious penalty, as ranked by the Sentence Type Classification used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) - see Criminal Courts, Australia methodology, 2021–22.

All charts

  • The data reported on this webpage excludes:
    • action taken on breach of a suspended sentence
    • penalties that are orders for disqualification from holding or obtaining a driver licence
    • cases that did not result in a sentence - for example charges which were withdrawn by the prosecution, dismissed, or where the defendant was found not guilty.
  • child is defined as a person whose MSO resulted in a penalty imposed under the Youth Justice Act 1992 (Qld). In Queensland, from 12 February 2018, a person who offends while under the age of 18 years is considered a child. Prior to this date, those aged under 17 years were sentenced as children, meaning that 17-year-olds were sentenced as adults. Any child under the age of 10 years at the time of the offence is not considered to be legally responsible for criminal behaviour.

Data source

This webpage uses data that has been collected from administrative information systems used by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General. The Queensland Government Statistician’s Office, within Queensland Treasury, provides the Courts Database to the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council.

The information presented on this webpage may vary from data published elsewhere due to differences in the dates data were extracted or in the counting rules applied. The data on this webpage was extracted from the Courts Database in September 2023.