New Zealand Law Society - Discharges without conviction falling

Discharges without conviction falling

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The recent discharge without conviction of Wellington rugby player Losi Filipo on assault charges (see New Zealand Police v Filipo [2016] NZDC 18820) has garnered a lot of attention. We take a look at how many cases have been discharged without conviction in New Zealand in recent years.

Numbers falling

The number of people who were discharged without conviction or granted diversion, has dropped significantly in recent years. In the year ending 30 June 2016, 8,687 people were granted diversion or discharged without conviction, down from 20,322 in the year to 30 June 2010.  

Over the same period the number of convictions have also dropped, with 162,675 convictions recorded in the 2015/16 year, compared to 237,662 in 2009/10. The number of charges prosecuted in 2015/16 dropped to 211,303, down from 331,070 in 2009/10.

Adult offenders, year to 30 June (from Ministry of Justice, Statistics New Zealand)

Measure 2016 2010 Change
Discharged without conviction or diversion 8,687 20,322 -57.3%
Convicted 162,675 237,662 -31.6%
Not proved 39,332 72,581 -45.8%
Other 609 505 20.6%
Total Charges Prosecuted 211,303 331,070 -36.2%
New Zealand Population 4.69 million 4.368 million 7.4%

Who can get discharged without conviction?

Section 107 of the Sentencing Act 2002 states that the court "must not discharge an offender without conviction unless the court is satisfied that the direct and indirect consequences would be out of all proportion to the gravity of the offence". 

What offences were granted diversion or a discharge without conviction?

Of the 8,687 cases involving adults that were discharged without conviction or led to diversion in the year to 30 June 2016, 1,925 were for acts intended to cause injury (22%), 1,302 were for dangerous of negligent acts endangering persons (15%), six were for robbery extortion and related offences, 138 were for unlawful entry with intent or burglary, break and enter. 

Traffic-related offences led to 987 cases of diversion or discharge without conviction (11%); property damage and environmental pollution to 910 (10%);  public order offences to 472 (5%);  fraud, deception and related offences to 315 (4%); abduction, harassment and other offences against the person 191 and sexual assault and related offences 31.

Who was convicted in the year to 30 June 2016?

  • 78% of adult convicted in New Zealand courts in the year ended June 2016 were male.
  • 41% of adults convicted were Maori, 37% were Pakeha and 10% were Pacific.
  • 12% of convicted adults received a prison sentence, 24% received community work. 33% were fined or had to pay reparation and 19% received other community service.
  • 34% of convicted adults were aged 17-24, 19% were aged 25-29, 23% were aged 30-39 and 24% were aged 40 and over.
  • The number of adults in court in the year ended June 2016 was down 31% since 2010/2011.