The number of people with a charge against them proved fell for most crime groups including serious assault, attempted murder, crimes of dishonesty, handling offensive weapons and other non-sexual crimes of violence. The figure increased for a handful of other crimes, including rape, attempted rape and robbery.
Females accounted for 16% of all convictions but only 9% of custodial sentences.
The Scottish Government pointed to the average length of a custodial sentence and welcomed the "tougher stance" being taken in the courts. "It is clear those responsible for serious crimes are being dealt with robustly by our legal system," said Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.
The figures for last year's criminal proceedings were released by Scotland's Chief Statistician and reveal details of court proceedings, sentencing trends and non-court disposals. They show that 87% of people who had proceedings brought against them in court had at least one charge proved or a plea of guilty accepted. This is down from 89% in 2010/11.
The number of convictions resulting in a custodial sentence rose 4% last year to 15,880. Analysis of all main penalties issued shows that the use of custody rose to 15%. Statistics show the proportion of males receiving a custodial sentence was higher than the proportion of females in almost all categories of crime and offence. The number of convictions fell for offenders of all ages.