2013 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.

Question 5

Which of the following is a mitigating circumstance in a sentencing decision?
(A) The offender is young.*
(B) The offender used a weapon.
(C) The offender has a prior conviction.
(D) The offender believed what he or she did was right.

This question dealt with mitigating circumstances and 75.8% of candidates answered it correctly.

Question 9

A person is convicted of a drug offence in the District Court. The person wishes to have this conviction reviewed.
Which court would the person go to?
(A) Drug Court
(B) High Court
(C) Federal Court
(D) Court of Criminal Appeal*

This question involved the concept appeals and cut across the criminal trial process and sentencing. 61.8% of candidates answered it correctly.

Question 11

Which of the following is true of circle sentencing?
(A) It promotes recidivism.
(B) It involves a magistrate.*
(C) It does not have the power of a court.
(D) It allows the victim to determine the penalty.

This question involved the concept of the alternative methods of sentencing – circle sentencing. It was the least successfully answered question with 29.6% of candidates answering it correctly.

Question 16

The Children’s Court decides that a 15 year old should be sent to a juvenile justice centre for twelve months.
What is this an example of?
(A) Probation
(B) A control order*
(C) A suspended sentence
(D) A diversionary program

This question looked at the Children’s Court and penalties for young offenders. It was the fourth-least successfully answered question with 37.8% of candidates answering it correctly.

Question 25

Assess the role discretion plays in the sentencing and punishment of offenders.

This was an extended response question on discretion in sentencing and punishment. Many candidates wrote very strong responses but didn’t restrict the concept of discretion to sentencing and punishment. This resulted in the overall mean for the question being 6.95/15.