Press release: 12.541-132/21

Number of convictions in 2020 at an all-time low

Vienna, 2021-06-09 – In 2020, 25 586 convictions by Austrian courts were registered, as Statistics Austria reports. This represents a decline of 13.7% compared to the previous year. The convictions were based on a total of 42 502 offences (see Table 1), with an average of 1.66 offences per conviction. A total of 23 716 people were legally convicted, with an average of 1.08 convictions per convict.

"In 2020, there was the biggest relative drop in the number of convictions since the introduction of diversion in adult criminal law in 2000. After a near steady decline since 2005, convictions in the 2020 Corona year plummeted abruptly to an all-time low of 25 586", said Tobias Thomas, Director General of Statistics Austria.

Significant decrease in convictions for property and drug offences

In 2020, as in the previous year, offences against property represented the largest group (12 926 or 30.4%), followed by offences against life and limb (7 727 or 18.2%) and offences under the Narcotic Substances Act (7 039 or 16.6%). These three groups together accounted for around two thirds of all offences.

Compared to the previous year, the total number of offences decreased by 11.4% in 2020. Some offences declined at an above-average rate (see Table 2), among others theft (-20.3%), (grossly) negligent manslaughter (-17.3%), negligent bodily harm (-15.7%), but also offences under the Narcotic Substances Act (-16.4%) and the Financial Offences Act (-27.4%). Almost no changes were observed with regard to murder (+/-0.0%), dangerous threat (+1.0%), (aggravated) property damage (-3.5%) and rape (+2.0%). Contrary to the general trend, a few types of offences also increased, including child pornography (+18.0%) and continued use of violence (+15.8%). However, some of the final judgements rendered in 2020 may relate to offences committed in previous years, and the duration of the court proceedings is typically related to the type of offence. In 2020, the police crime statistics recorded a drop of 11.3% in reported offences.

No relevant changes in the sex and age of the convicts

In 2020, the proportion of men (84.7%) and adults (83.6%) amongst all convicts was almost the same as in the previous year (see Table 3). At the time of the crime, 6.3% of those convicted were juveniles (14- to 17-year-olds) and 10.1% were young adults (18- to 20-year-olds).

Similar to the previous year, just over half (55.4%) of all convicts had one or more previous convictions (2019: 56.6%).

Reconviction rate decreased slightly

The reconviction rate has decreased slightly from 32.7% in 2019 to 32.0% in 2020. The reconviction statistics monitor all those released (from an unconditional prison sentence or institutional placement) or legally convicted (except for unconditional prison sentences or institutional placement) in a certain base year over a period of four years with regard to new convictions by Austrian courts. Of the total of 26 318 people in the 2016 cohort – that is, the conviction or release took place in 2016 – around two thirds (68.0%) did not get another conviction, while every third person was convicted again within four years. If there was a reconviction, it occurred within a short period of time: two thirds of all reconvictions were recorded within the first two years of the observation period.

For more detailed results and further information regarding crime statistics please refer to our website.

Information on methods, definitions: Judicial criminal statistics are based on the criminal records file maintained by the Federal Ministry of the Interior. It classifies final convictions which are handed down by the Austrian courts in accordance with the Austrian Criminal Code or supplementary criminal laws. In the case of proceedings instituted on account of multiple punishable acts, the conviction is classified according to the offence that is decisive in terms of the punishment imposed ("principal offence"). Since 2012 Statistics Austria has been obtaining information on the "principal offence" from the courts. In addition, all convicted offences have been made available for statistical purposes since reporting year 2012. 
Statistics on reconvictions
are based on persons being legally convicted (except for unconditional prison sentences) or released from prison during the base year. The statistics show how many of the persons concerned were convicted again during a given risk period. Until base year 2009 the observation period covered five calendar years. Since base year 2010 every person has been individually observed over a period of four years.

 

Table 1: Convicted persons, convictions and offences 2012–2020
Data level201220132014201520162017201820192020
Absolute number
Convicted persons32 28531 54130 22729 51127 91628 28627 65527 28423 716
Convictions35 54134 42432 98032 11830 45030 74630 15729 63225 586
Offences53 62451 69649 94049 21047 64549 04948 83047 98042 502
Change to previous year in %
Convicted persons.-2.3-4.2-2.4-5.41.3-2.2-1.3-13.1
Convictions.-3.1-4.2-2.6-5.21.0-1.9-1.7-13.7
Offences.-3.6-3.4-1.5-3.22.9-0.4-1.7-11.4
Table 2: Changes in selected offences or groups of offences 2019–2020
Offence or group of offences1)20192)20202)ChangeChange in %
All offences total47 98042 502-5 478-11.4
Crimes against life and limb8 4747 727-747-8.8
thereof bodily harm4 3633 968-395-9.1
thereof negligent bodily harm1 2381 044-194-15.7
thereof grievous bodily harm1 7791 801-22-1.2
thereof (grossly) negligent manslaughter150124-26-17.3
thereof murder2)868600.0
Crimes against liberty4 4074 269-138-3.1
thereof dangerous threat1 9822 002201.0
thereof continued use of violence1461692315.8
Crimes against property14 82412 926-1 898-12.8
thereof theft6 6645 309-1 355-20.3
thereof fraud2 5482 388-160-6.3
thereof (aggravated) property damage2 1742 098-76-3.5
Crimes against sexual integrity1 3221 4321108.3
thereof rape9810022.0
thereof child pornography57367610318.0
thereof (aggravated) sexual abuse of a minor22522831.3
Offences under the Narcotic Substances Act8 4157 039-1 376-16.4
Offences under the Financial Offences Act274199-75-27.4

 

Table 3: Convicts 2019–2020
Characteristics of the person 
at the time of the first conviction in the reporting year
Convicts
20192020
absolutein %absolutein %
Convicts total27 284100.023 716100.0
Sex
Men23 18185.020 09684.7
Women4 10315.03 62015.3
Age at the time of the crime
Juveniles (14 to 17 years)1 6346.01 4946.3
Young adults (18 to 20 years)2 76410.12 38810.1
Adults (21 years and above)22 88683.919 83483.6
Nationality
Austria15 61957.214 05159.2
Other11 66542.89 66540.8
Previous convictions
Without previous conviction15 44556.613 13355.4
With previous conviction(s)11 83943.410 58344.6

For further inquiries please contact Directorate Social Statistics, Statistics Austria:  
Romana RIEGLER, M.A., Tel. +43 1 71128-7103 resp. romana.riegler@statistik.gv.at

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