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4500.0 - Crime and Justice News, Jul 2009  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/07/2009   
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Road traffic offences up 25% over the 5 years in Magistrates' Court

Road traffic offences had risen by 25% over the last five years (from 205,672 in 2003-04 to 256,963 in 2007-08). Road traffic offences represented nearly half (45%) of the 565,800 adjudicated defendants finalised in the Magistrates' Courts in 2007-08.

Nearly a third of adjudicated defendants (29%) with road traffic offences were aged under 25. Men accounted for three times as many defendants charged with road traffic offences than women.


Other findings

In 2007-08, there were a total of 675,765 finalised defendants in Australia's criminal courts: 16,811 in the Higher Courts; 619,542 in the Magistrates' Courts; and 39,412 in the Children's Courts. Between 2006-07 and 2007-08, the number of defendants finalised across all criminal courts increased by 5%.

In 2007-08, male defendants increased by 5% (from 497,990 in 2006-07 to 521,404) and female defendants increased by 9% (from 132,278 in 2006-07 to 143,862). The number of organisations appearing as defendants before the courts decreased 15% over this same period (from 7,971 in 2006-07 to 6,819 in 2007-08).

Across all court levels, 96% of defendants adjudicated were proven guilty (up from 95% in 2006-07). Of those proven guilty, 10% (59,276) were sentenced to a custodial order.

In the Higher Courts:
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of adjudicated defendants were charged with acts intended to cause injury.
  • Defendants adjudicated for sexual assault and illicit drug offences both increased by 8% from 2006-07.
  • More than a quarter (29%) of adjudicated defendants aged 45 and over were charged with sexual assault offences.
  • Adjudicated defendants with robbery/extortion offences increased by 6% from 2006-07 however there has been an overall decline of 19% since 2001-02.

In the Children's Courts:
  • There were 39,400 juvenile offenders finalised in the Children's Courts in 2007-08.
  • The largest proportion of defendants adjudicated (16%) were charged with acts intended to cause injury, followed by theft (14%).
  • Adjudicated defendants with robbery/ extortion and related offences increased by 23% from 2006-07.

About this release

The Criminal Courts, Australia, 2007-08 (cat. no. 4513.0) publication presents nationally comparable statistics relating to the criminal jurisdiction of the Higher (Supreme and Intermediate), Magistrates' and Children's Courts across Australia. It provides data showing the number of defendants dealt with by the courts and includes details on the characteristics of defendants (such as age and sex), and outcomes (including sentence type) by the type of principal offence committed. Information is presented for each state and territory (including the aggregate total for Australia) and for each of the three court levels. The statistics presented are based on data extracted from administrative records held by state and territory agencies responsible for courts administration.

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