2015 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 7 

Which court has appellate jurisdiction to hear criminal law matters?
(A) Local Court
(B) District Court*
(C) Coroner’s Court
(D) Children’s Court

This question was about appellate jurisdiction, and cut across the criminal trial process and sentencing, with 71.3% of candidates answering it correctly. 

Question 9 

Which of the following is a purpose of punishment?
(A) Interrogation
(B) Imprisonment
(C) Rehabilitation*
(D) Restorative justice

This question was about the purpose of punishment and 61.7% of candidates answered it correctly. 

Question 10 

Mark is charged with an offence and the matter is brought to court by a police prosecutor. It is his first offence. Mark is found guilty and sentenced.
What type of offence and penalty would most likely apply to Mark?
(A) A summary offence and a fine*
(B) A summary offence and imprisonment
(C) An indictable offence and a suspended sentence
(D) An indictable offence and a good behaviour bond

This question tested students’ understanding of type of offence from the "Nature of Crime" section of the syllabus, and of type of penalties from the "Sentencing" section of the syllabus. 51.1% of candidates answered it correctly, making it the fourth-least successfully answered objective question. 

Question 12 

Daniel, a 14-year-old, is convicted of a public order offence. This is his first recorded conviction.
Which of the following is the most likely penalty for Daniel?
(A) Caution
(B) Warning
(C) Probation
(D) Community service* 

This question dealt with penalties for young offenders. It was the least successfully answered question, with 14.3% of candidates answering it correctly. 

Question 14 

A well-known public figure has served his full sentence of 20 years for a violent crime. He has been denied release because of aggressive behaviour in prison.
What is this an example of?
(A) Periodic detention
(B) Protective custody
(C) Continued detention*
(D) Security reclassification 

This question involved the concept post-sentencing considerations – continued detention. 82.1% of candidates answered it correctly. 

Question 19 

A person has been found guilty of aggravated assault. The judge has heard from the victim as well as referring to similar court cases prior to sentencing.
Why has the judge referred to similar cases?
(A) To follow judicial guidelines*
(B) To follow statutory guidelines
(C) To ensure community expectations are met
(D) To ensure the sentence reflects the victim impact statement

This question looked at judicial guidelines, and 68.4% of candidates answered it correctly. 

Question 20 

Legislation has been changed to require mandatory imprisonment for a particular offence. Ken commits this offence and it is recorded on CCTV. This is his first offence. Ken is convicted and is awaiting sentencing. A community group expresses concern about this law.
What action should the community group take to best help Ken?
(A) Argue the law is unconstitutional
(B) Provide references for Ken’s good character
(C) Lobby parliament to repeal this law*
(D) Advise Ken to deny the actus reus and mens rea of the offence

This question tested students' understanding of mandatory sentencing, and 58.3% of candidates answered it correctly. 

Question 24 

How effective are domestic and international measures in dealing with transnational crime?

This was an extended response question on transnational crime. As transnational crimes are dealt with domestically candidates were required to discuss sentencing and punishment options available to judges when dealing with people who commit transnational crimes. This question had a mean result of 5.99/15.