2017 HSC Legal Studies exam

Below is a breakdown of how well past Legal Studies students answered questions that related to sentencing and punishment. Answers with an asterisk are the correct answers.

Go to the Legal Studies 2017 HSC Exam Pack

Question 3

A person is sentenced to imprisonment for a period of five years. The person thinks the sentence is too long and decides to appeal.

What type of appeal can this best be described as?

(A) Appeal against bias
(B) Appeal against severity*
(C) Appeal on a point of law
(D) Appeal on the conviction

This question addressed the topics of “appeals and penalties”. 56.88% of candidates answered it correctly with the main distractor being (D).

Question 13

A former police officer is convicted of a crime and requests to be placed in protective custody.

What is this an example of?

(A) Restorative justice
(B) Continued detention
(C) Preventative detention
(D) Post-sentencing considerations *

This question addressed the topic of “post-sentencing considerations, including security classification, protective custody, parole, preventative detention, continued detention, sexual offenders registration, deportation”. 65.53% of candidates answered it correctly with the main distractor being (C)

Question 20

New legislation proposes mandatory sentencing. A judge comments that the proposed legislation challenges judicial discretion.

The judge is able to make these comments based on which legal principle?

(A) Precedent
(B) Ratio decidendi
(C) Division of power
(D) Separation of powers *

This question caused some concern as it is set as a crime question but draws on knowledge and understanding from human rights. The question addressed the topic of “statutory and judicial guidelines” and the theme and challenge “the role of discretion in the criminal justice system”. 50.65% of candidates answered it correctly. The remaining candidates spread their selection across all of the three distractors.

Question 24

‘A court’s decision whether to allow an accused person bail or to hold them in remand reflects the tension between community interests and individual rights and freedoms.’ 
Assess this statement with reference to the criminal justice system. 


This was a very broad extended response question on the criminal justice system. While the quote refers to bail and remand the question is not specific to those concepts.

An assess question requires candidates to make a judgement on how well the criminal justice system is able deal with the “tension between community interests and individual rights and freedoms”.

This question had a mean result of 7.5/15.