Offender Profile and Recidivism among Domestic Violence Offenders in Ontario

4. Results

4. Results

4.1 Offender Demographic Characteristics and Other Information

Table 1 provides information on the demographics of the offender population in the sample. The data shows that the majority of offenders were male (92%) and that the median age of male offenders was slightly younger than that of female offenders (35 versus 36.5 years). Further, the median age of offenders who appeared in other Ontario courts was slightly younger than offenders who appeared in a DVC (35 versus 36 years).

Table 1: Gender and Age Group by Court Type, 2001

Gender *T1(a)
  Domestic Violence Courts N (column %) Other Ontario Courts N (column %) Total N (column %)
Male 438 (92%) 450 (92%) 888 (92%)
Female 38 (8%) 41 (8%) 79 (8%)
Total 476 (100%) 491 (100%) 967 (100%)

Age
  Domestic Violence Courts N (column %) Other Ontario Courts N (column %) Total N (column %)
18–34 221 (44%) 247 (49%) 468 (47%)
35–54 250 (50%) 237 (47%) 487(49%)
55+ 27 (5%) 16 (3%) 43 (4%)
Total 498 (100%) 500 (100%) 998 (100%)
Median 36 years 35 years 35 years


Gender and Age

Male
  Domestic Violence Courts N (column %) Other Ontario Courts N (column %) Total N (column %)
18–34 196 (45%) 222 (49%) 418 (47%)
35–54 214 (49%) 213 (47%) 427 (48%)
55+ 26 (6%) 15 (3%) 41 (5%)
Total 436 (100%) 450 (100%) 886 (100%)
Median 37 years 35 years 35 years

Female
  Domestic Violence Courts N (column %) Other Ontario Courts N (column %) Total N (column %)
18–34 16 (42%) 23 (56%) 39 (49%)
35–54 21 (55%) 17 (42%) 38 (48%)
55+ 1 (3%) 1 (2%) 2 (3%)
Total 38 (100%) 41 (100%) 79 (100%)
Median 36 years 35 years 36.5 years
  1. Gender was unknown for 33 accused.
  2. Age was unknown for 2 accused.
  3. Total may not equal 100% due to rounding.
  4. * = p<.05; **=p<.01; ***=p<.001

Table 2 presents data on the total number of convictions offenders received in their lifetime, as well as the total number of charges laid without a conviction. Offenders appearing in both court types had a median number of 5 convictions, meaning that approximately half of the sample had less than 5 convictions and half had more than 5 convictions in their lifetime.

Additionally, Table 2 shows that offenders who appeared in a DVC had a median number of 2 charges laid against them in their lifetime without it resulting in a conviction compared to 1 conviction for offenders who appeared in other Ontario courts.

Table 2: Total Number of Lifetime Convictions and Number of Charges Laid in Lifetime without Convictions, by Court Type, 2001

4.2 Most Serious Index Domestic Violence Conviction

Table 3 presents data based on the seriousness of the current offence calculated using the seriousness index created for this analysis.[13] These data show that offenders who appeared in a DVC were less likely than offenders who appeared in other Ontario courts to be convicted of serious violent/violent offences (86% versus 96% respectively) but more likely to be convicted of less violent offences (including threat of violence and no violence) (14% versus 5% respectively). Chi square results show that these differences appear to be statistically significant.

Table 3 also shows the distribution of index domestic violence convictions by court type. As demonstrated earlier, offenders who appeared in a DVC were more likely than offenders who appeared in other Ontario courts to be convicted of less violent offences such as uttering threats (10% versus 4%) and criminal harassment (4% versus 1%). They were, however, less likely to be convicted of assault (74% versus 82%). Chi square results show that these differences are statistically significant.

Table 3: Seriousness Index and Most Serious Index Domestic Violence Conviction by Court Type, 2001

Seriousness Index ***T3(a)
  Domestic Violence Courts N (column %) Other Ontario Courts N column %) Total N (column %)
Serious Violence 60 (12%) 68 (14%) 128 (13%)
Violence 368 (74%) 408 (82%) 776 (78%)
Threat of Violence 71 (14%) 24 (5%) 95 (10%)
No Violence 1 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (0%)
Total 500 (100%) 500 (100%) 1000 (100%)

Most Serious Index Domestic Violence Conviction ***T3(b)
  Domestic Violence Courts N (column %) Other Ontario Courts N column %) Total N (column %)
Second Degree Murder 0 (0%) 1 (0%) 1 (0%)
Aggravated Sexual Assault 1 (0%) 2 (0%) 3 (0%)
Kidnapping/Forcible confinement 5 (1%) 3 (1%) 8 (1%)
Aggravated Assault 3 (1%) 0 (0%) 3 (0%)
Sexual Interference 0 (0%) 1 (0%) 1 (0%)
Sexual Assault 3 (1%) 6 (1%) 9 (1%)
Assault with Weapon/Causing Bodily Harm 48 (10%) 55 (11%) 103 (10%)
Assault 368 (74%) 408 (82%) 776 (78%)
Uttering Threats 52 (10%) 21 (4%) 73 (7%)
Criminal Harassment 19 (4%) 3 (1%) 21 (2%)
Disturbing the Peace 1 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (100%)
Total 500 (100%) 500 (100%) 1000 (100%)
  1. Total may not equal 100% due to rounding.
  2. *= p<.05; **=p<.01; ***=p<.001

4.3 Number of Convictions

Table 4 presents data on the total number of concurrent convictions the offenders received during their appearance for the index domestic violence conviction. The majority (63%) of offenders received only one conviction in 2001, which was the index domestic violence conviction.

Table 4 also presents data on the total number of spousal convictions the offenders received during their appearance for the index domestic violence conviction. The majority (89%) of offenders received only one spousal conviction.

Table 4: Total Number of Convictions for Index Domestic Violence Conviction and Total Number of Spousal Convictions for Index Domestic Violence Conviction by Court Type, 2001

Total Number of Convictions for Index Domestic Violence Conviction
  Domestic Violence Courts N (column %) Other Ontario Courts N (column %) Total N (column %)
1 conviction 316 (63%) 316 (63%) 632 (63%)
2 convictions 103 (21%) 96 (19%) 199 (20%)
3 convictions 55 (11%) 42 (8%) 98 (10%)
4 convictions 15 (3%) 21 (4%) 36 (4%)
5–9 convictions 11 (2%) 25 (5%) 36 (4%)
Total 500 (100%) 500 (100%) 1000 (100%)
Median 1 conviction 1 conviction 1 conviction

Total Number of Spousal Convictions for Index Domestic Violence Conviction
  Domestic Violence Courts N (column %) Other Ontario Courts N (column %) Total N (column %)
1 conviction 441 (88%) 444 (89%) 885 (89%)
2 convictions 47 (9%) 44 (9%) 91 (9%)
3 convictions 8 (2%) 9 (2%) 17 (2%)
4 convictions 4 (1%) 1 (0%) 5 (1%)
5 convictions 0 (0%) 2 (0%) 2 (0%)
Total 500 (100%) 500 (100%) 1000 (100%)
Median 1 conviction 1 conviction 1 conviction

1. Total may not equal 100% due to rounding.

4.4 Most Serious Sentence and Sentence Length

Table 5 shows the most serious sentence received for the index domestic violence conviction by court type. Prison (48%) and probation (47%) were the most common sentences received in cases of domestic violence. However, offenders who appeared in a DVC were more likely than offenders who appeared in other Ontario courts to receive a prison sentence (52% versus 45%) and less likely to receive a probation sentence (45% versus 50%). Chi square results show that these differences are statistically significant.

Table 5 also presents prison and probation sentence lengths for the index domestic violence conviction. Although offenders who appeared in a DVC were more likely than offenders who appeared in other Ontario courts to receive a prison sentence, the median prison sentence length was shorter compared to offenders who appeared in other Ontario courts (40 versus 49 days). Offenders from both court types were more likely to receive a prison sentence of less than one month for the index domestic violence conviction (44% and 41% respectively). It is noteworthy that about nine-in-ten offenders who received a prison sentence were sentenced to a period of less than 6 months, whatever the court type.

Probation sentence lengths tended to be longer than prison sentences. For both court types, the median probation sentence length was 360 days or one year. While offenders who appeared in a DVC were more likely than offenders who appeared in other Ontario provincial courts to have received a sentence of 6 to 12 months (62% versus 57%), they were less likely to receive a sentence of 12 to 24 months (28% versus 36%).

Table 5: Most Serious Sentence for Index Domestic Violence Conviction and Prison/Probation Sentence Length by Court Type, 2001

Most Serious Sentence *T5(a)
  Domestic Violence Courts N (column %) Other Ontario Courts N (column %) Total N (column %)
Prison 259 (52%) 223 (45%) 482 (48%)
Conditional Sentence 15 (3%) 22 (4%) 37 (4%)
Probation 223 (45%) 248 (50%) 471 (47%)
Fine 2 (1%) 7 (1%) 9 (1%)
Absolute Discharge 0 (0%) 1 (0%) 1 (0%)
Total 500 (100%) 500 (100%) 1000 (100%)

Prison Sentence Length
  Domestic Violence Courts N (column %) Other Ontario Courts N (column %) Total N (column %)
< 1 month 113 (44%) 92 (41%) 205 (43%)
1–3 months 82 (32%) 79 (35%) 161 (33%)
3–6 months 39 (15%) 32 (14%) 71 (15%)
6–12 months 15 (6%) 9 (4%) 24 (5%)
1–2 years 5 (2%) 8 (4%) 13 (3%)
2+ years 5 (2%) 3 (1%) 8 (2%)
Total 259 (100%) 223 (100%) 482 (100%)
Median 40 days 49 days 45 days

Probation Sentence Length
  Domestic Violence Courts N (column %) Other Ontario Courts N (column %) Total N (column %)
< 6 months 11 (5%) 13 (5%) 24 (5%)
6–12 months 138 (62%) 141 (57%) 279 (59%)
12–24 months 63 (28%) 90 (36%) 153 (33%)
24+ months 11 (5%) 4 (2%) 15 (3%)
Total 223 (100%) 248 (100%) 471 (100%)
Median 360 days 360 days 360 days
  1. Total may not equal 100% due to rounding.
  2. * = p<.05; **=p<.01; ***=p<.001

4.5 Number of Convictions Prior to 2001

Table 6 shows the total number of convictions offenders received prior to the index domestic violence conviction. A total of 692 offenders had prior convictions on their criminal records. The median number of prior convictions was 5 convictions per court type. However, about one-in-three offenders (33% and 31% respectively) from each court type had over 10 convictions prior to the index domestic violence conviction.

Table 6: Prior Conviction Status and Total Number of Prior Convictions by Court Type, 2001

4.6 Most Serious Conviction Prior to 2001

Table 7 presents data based on the seriousness index created for this analysis (see Methodology section). These data show that offenders who appeared in a DVC were less likely than offenders who appeared in other Ontario courts to have prior convictions for incidents not involving violence (32% versus 37%) and that there are no significant differences between the two court types for the other variables on the seriousness index.

Table 7 also presents detailed information on the most serious convictions for the offenders who had prior convictions. Offenders who appeared in a DVC were more likely than offenders who appeared in other Ontario courts to have been convicted of an other violent offence (63% versus 52%) but less likely to have been convicted of a spousal offence (5% versus 11%) or an other Criminal Code offence (8% versus 11%). There were no significant differences between the two court types for the other offence categories. Chi square results show that these differences are statistically significant.

Table 7: Seriousness Index and Most Serious Prior Conviction by Court Type, 2001

4.7 Most Serious Sentence Prior to 2001

Table 8 presents data on the most serious sentence received for the most serious prior conviction. Offenders who appeared in a DVC were more likely than offenders who appeared in other Ontario courts to have received a prison sentence (71% versus 64%) but slightly less likely to have received a probation sentence (20% versus 22%) or a fine (9% versus 11%).

Table 8: Most Serious Sentence for Prior Conviction by Court Type, 2001

4.8 Number of Reconvictions After 2001

Table 9 presents data on recidivism rates and total number of reconvictions by court type. Almost one-in-three offenders were reconvicted at least once after the index domestic violence conviction and (31% in DVC and 32% in other Ontario courts). Based on chi square results, the differences between recidivism rates for the two court types as well as the number of reconvictions are not statistically significant. Additionally, the median number of reconvictions was similar for both court types and similar proportions of offenders were reconvicted once after the index domestic violence conviction (31% for DVC and 30% for other Ontario courts).

Table 9: Reconviction Status and Total Number of Reconvictions after 2001 by Court Type, 2001

Reconviction
  Domestic Violence Courts N (column %) Other Ontario Courts N (column %) Total N (column %)
Yes 157 (31%) 160 (32%) 317 (32%)
No 343 (69%) 340 (68%) 683 (68%)
Total 500 (100%) 500 (100%) 1000 (100%)

Number of Reconvictions
  Domestic Violence Courts N (column %) Other Ontario Courts N (column %) Total N (column %)
One 50 (31%) 48 (30%) 98 (31%)
Two 34 (22%) 40 (25%) 74 (23%)
Three 19 (12%) 26 (16%) 45 (14%)
Four 21 (13%) 11 (7%) 32 (10%)
Five to nine 26 (17%) 30 (19%) 56 (18%)
Over ten 7 (5%) 5 (3%) 12 (4%)
Total 157 (100%) 160 (100%) 317 (100%)
Median 2 reconvictions 2 reconvictions 2 reconvictions

1. Total may not equal 100% due to rounding.

4.9 Most Serious Reconviction After 2001

Table 10 presents data based on a seriousness index created for this analysis (for more details on the seriousness index, see the methodology section). These data show that offenders who appeared in a DVC were less likely than offenders who appeared in other Ontario courts to be reconvicted of serious violence/violent offence (41% versus 53%) and more likely to be reconvicted of incidents not involving any violence (51% versus 40%).

Table 10 also presents detailed information on the most serious reconviction after the index domestic violence conviction by court type. Offenders who appeared in a DVC were more likely than offenders who appeared in other Ontario courts to be reconvicted of an administrative offence (43% versus 28%). They were, however, less likely to be reconvicted of a spousal offence (13% versus 19%), other violent offence (36% versus 41%), and other Criminal Code offence (3% versus 7%).

Table 10: Seriousness Index and Most Serious Reconviction by Court Type, 2001

4.10 Most Serious Sentence After 2001

Table 11 presents data on the most serious sentence received for the reconviction by court type. Offenders who appeared in a DVC were more likely than offenders who appeared in other Ontario courts to be sentenced to prison for the reconviction (81% versus 77%) and less likely to be sentenced to probation (9% versus 13%). These differences are not statistically significant.

Table 11: Most Serious Sentence for Reconviction by Court Type, 2001

4.11 Duration between 2001 Conviction and Reconviction

Table 12 presents data on the time elapsed between the index domestic violence conviction and the reconviction by court type. Offenders who appeared in a DVC were slightly less likely than offenders who appeared before other Ontario courts to be reconvicted within 6 to 12 months (29% versus 31%) but slightly more likely to be reconvicted between 1 and 2 years after the index domestic violence conviction (38% versus 36%). However, the median time elapsed was slightly shorter for offenders who appeared in a DVC compared to offenders who appeared in other Ontario courts (306 versus 316.5 days).

Table 12: Time Elapsed between Index Domestic Violence Conviction and Reconviction by Court Type, 2001


[13] More details on the seriousness index can be found in the Methodology section.

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