2014 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 9

A magistrate orders an offender to serve six months in gaol, to be served only if toffender is not of good behaviour during this time. This is an example of
(A) probation.
(B) imprisonment.
(C) a suspended sentence.*
(D) a diversionary program. 

This question involved the concept of the types of penalties with 41.5% of candidates answered it correctly.

Question 13

The purpose of specific deterrence in sentencing is to
(A) direct the offender to undertake education and training.
(B) direct the offender to complete a community service order.(C) discourage the offender from committing the offence again.*(D) discourage others who may consider committing a similar offence.

This question involved the concept of the purpose of punishment with 74.7% of candidates answering it correctly.

Question 14

The police hold Susan in custody because they believe she may commit a serious crime. What is this an example of?
(A) Remand
(B) Recidivism
(C) Protective custody
(D) Preventative detention*

This question involved the concept of the post-sentencing considerations – preventative detention. 56.5% of candidates answered it correctly.

Question 17

Which of the following is true of a victim impact statement?
(A) It allows a victim to recommend a punishment.
(B) It provides evidence for the prosecution in the trial.
(C) It must be given by a person against whom the offence was committed.
(D) It must be received by the court in writing after the conviction of the defendant.*

This question involved the concept of victim impact statements and was the second-least successfully answered question with 30.1% of candidates answering it correctly.

Question 18

Kim is 12 years old. She has been accused of shoplifting from a major retail store. The matter has proceeded to court.Which of the following applies to Kim?
(A) She will have a criminal record.
(B) Her case will be heard in the Local Court.
(C) She is presumed to be incapable of committing the offence.*
(D) She is below the age of criminal responsibility and will be acquitted. 

This question involved the concept of doli incapax and was the fifth-least successfully answered question with 33.4% of candidates answering it correctly.

Question 20

Judy was charged with murder. Her defence of substantial impairment by abnormality of the mind was accepted. Judy was then convicted of manslaughter in a judge-only trial. She had prior serious criminal convictions and was sentenced to three years imprisonment.

In this case an appeal is most likely to be made by
(A) Judy, against her conviction for manslaughter.
(B) Judy, as the sentencing judge did not consider aggravating factors.
(C) the Director of Public Prosecutions, as the sentence was inadequate.*
(D) the Director of Public Prosecutions, as the case was not heard by a jury.  

This question tested students’ knowledge of appeals, and 42.6% of candidates answered it correctly.

Question 24

To what extent does the criminal investigation process balance the rights of victims, suspectsand society?

This was an extended response question on the criminal investigation process. A number of candidates incorrectly used information from sentencing and punishment, which resulted in the overall mean for the question being 7.36/15.