4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2011-12 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/02/2013   
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Contents >> Higher Courts >> Defendants finalised - Method of Finalisation - Higher Courts


DEFENDANTS FINALISED - METHOD OF FINALISATION

Charges withdrawn by the prosecution

Out of all the court levels, charges withdrawn by the prosecution was most common in the Higher Courts. In 2011-12, 1,941 (13%) defendants had their charges withdrawn by the prosecution, a small decrease from 2,197 (14%) in 2010-11.

During 2011-12, of defendants whose charges were withdrawn by the prosecution, 28% had been facing charges of sexual assault (545 defendants), 23% had been facing charges of acts intended to cause injury (451 defendants) and 13% had been facing charges of illicit drug offences (254 defendants).

South Australia (25%) and the Australian Capital Territory (20%) had larger proportions of defendants finalised by charges withdrawn than the national average of 13%. New South Wales and the Northern Territory had the smallest proportion of defendants finalised by this method (5% and 8% respectively).

Defendants acquitted

Of the 15,479 defendants finalised, 8% (1,166) were acquitted. This represents a small increase from the 2010-11 proportion of 7% (1,142 defendants).

Two principal offences accounted for two-thirds of all defendants acquitted in 2011-12: sexual assault (44% or 509 defendants) and acts intended to cause injury (22% or 261 defendants).

Of defendants whose charges were acquitted, 18% had been facing charges of sexual assault and 14% had been facing charges of homicide.

Graph Image for DEFENDANTS ACQUITTED, Higher Courts, Selected principal offence


Tasmania had the lowest proportion of defendants acquitted (4%) and New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory had the highest proportion of defendants acquitted (both 9%). The national average was 8%.

Defendants proven guilty

In 2011-12, the majority (79% or 12,158) of defendants finalised in the Higher Courts were proven guilty; this is consistent over the time series. Of those defendants proven guilty, a large proportion (87% or 10,564) pleaded guilty, while 11% (1,331) had a guilty finding at trial.

The proportion of defendants pleading guilty varied by offence type: 81% of defendants with a principal offence of robbery and extortion and illicit drug offences pleaded guilty, whereas 47% of defendants with homicide offences and 48% of defendants with offences against justice pleaded guilty.

South Australia had the lowest proportion of defendants proven guilty (65%) and the Northern Territory had the highest proportion (87%). The national average was 79%.

Graph Image for DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Higher Courts, States and territories


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