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4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2002-03  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/02/2004   
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Abduction and related offences

Acts intended to unlawfully deprive another person of their freedom of movement against that person's will or against the will of any parent, guardian or other person having lawful custody or care of that person. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Abduction and kidnapping (051) and Deprivation of liberty/false imprisonment (052).

Acquitted

An outcome of criminal proceedings in which a court declares a not guilty verdict as a charge laid against a defendant has not been proven. This also includes a finding of not guilty on the grounds of insanity/unsoundness of mind at the time the defendant committed the offence.

Acts intended to cause injury

Acts, excluding homicide and related offences, which are intended to cause non-fatal injury or harm to another person and where there is no sexual or acquisitive element. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Assault (021) and Other acts intended to cause injury (029).

Adjudicated finalisation

A method of finalisation based on a judgement or decision by the court as to whether or not the defendant is guilty of the charge(s) laid against them.

Age

Age is calculated at a defendant's date of finalisation within a court level. A defendant's age is the time elapsed (in years) between a defendant's date of birth and the date of finalisation.

Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC)

The ASOC is a hierarchical classification developed by the ABS for use in the collection and publication of crime and justice statistics. It provides a classificatory framework for the comparison of statistics on offences across Australia. Within the classificatory structure of ASOC, Divisions represent the broadest categories of offences (see Appendix 3).

Bench warrant executed

The apprehension of an absconder who is brought back before the court to answer outstanding (and new) charges.

Bench warrant issued

A warrant signed by a Judge or Magistrate ordering a person to be arrested and brought back before the court. This process takes place when a defendant, who has at least one charge that has not been finalised by the court, absconds from criminal proceedings.

Breach of domestic violence order

An act or omission breaching the conditions of a domestic violence order. This is ASOC Group 1514.

Case

One or more defendants against whom one or more charges have been laid and which are heard together by a court as one unit of work. The charge(s) usually relate to the same criminal incident and appear together on one indictment.

Charge

An allegation laid before a court by the police or other prosecuting agency that a person or organisation has committed a criminal offence.

Committal

A preliminary hearing of a charge relating to an indictable offence which is conducted by a Magistrate in a Court of Summary Jurisdiction. The aim of this hearing is to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant the defendant being committed to a Higher Criminal Court for trial or sentence.

Committal plea

The plea to a charge which is entered by a defendant at the end of committal proceedings in a Court of Summary Jurisdiction.

Committed for sentence

An outcome of a committal hearing where a defendant enters a guilty plea to all charges and is transferred to a Higher Criminal Court to be sentenced. This process is regarded as a method of finalisation for the Magistrates' Criminal Court and a method of initiation into a Higher Criminal Court level.

Committed for trial

An outcome of a committal hearing where a defendant enters a not guilty plea to at least one charge and is transferred to a Higher Criminal Court to stand trial. This process is regarded as a method of finalisation for the Magistrates' Criminal Court and a method of initiation into a Higher Criminal Court level.

Community service orders

An order requiring a person to undertake a specified number of hours of unpaid work for the community.

Community supervision or work orders

Non-custodial orders that require a person to perform work within the community or report to a person nominated by the court (for example a corrections officer). Includes Community service orders, Probation orders and Treatment orders.

County Court

See Intermediate Court.

Court level

Separate tiers of the court system which are established under legislation and have certain prescribed powers. Court levels can be distinguished from one another on the basis of the extent of their legal powers (see Jurisdiction). Court levels include Court of Summary Jurisdiction, Intermediate Court and Supreme Court. The names assigned to each of these court levels varies across Australia.

Court of Petty Sessions

See Court of Summary Jurisdiction.

Court of Summary Jurisdiction

A Lower Court level (also referred to as Magistrates' Court, Local Court or Court of Petty Sessions) which deals with relatively less serious charges and has the most limited legal powers of all the state and territory court levels. A Court of Summary Jurisdiction is presided over by a Magistrate and has jurisdiction to try and sentence matters relating to summary offences. Under some circumstances, this court level may also deal with less serious indictable offences known as 'minor indictable' or 'triable either way' offences. Courts of Summary Jurisdiction are also responsible for conducting preliminary (committal) hearings for indictable offences.

Custodial orders

An order requiring a person to have restricted liberty for a specified period of time either through detainment in an institution/home or being subject to regular supervision while residing within the community. Includes: Custody in a correctional institution, Custody in the community and Suspended sentence.

Custody in a correctional institution

An order requiring a person to be detained within a facility built especially for the purpose of incarceration. Includes: Life and indeterminate imprisonment, Imprisonment with determined term and Periodic detention.

Custody in the community

An order requiring a person to have restricted liberty for a specified period of time while living within the community. Includes: Intensive corrections orders, Home detention and Other custody in the community.

Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons

Dangerous or negligent acts which, though not intended to cause harm, actually or potentially, result in injury to oneself or another person. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Dangerous or negligent operation of a vehicle (041) and Other dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons (049).

Date of committal

The date at the end of a committal hearing which results in a defendant being transferred to a Higher Criminal Court for a trial or sentence hearing.

Date of finalisation

The date on which all charges laid against a defendant are regarded as formally completed by the courts and the defendant ceases to be an active unit of work to be dealt with by the courts.

Date of initiation

The date on which a defendant is regarded as having started within the Higher Criminal Courts as a new item of work. For defendants who were committed for trial or sentence from a Court of Summary Jurisdiction to a Higher Criminal Court, the date of committal is used as the date of initiation. For defendants who have any other method of initiation (e.g. ex officio, bench warrant executed), the date of registration for that court level is used as the date of initiation. Where there are multiple dates of initiation for charges for a defendant, the earliest date is used.

Date of registration

The date on which a defendant first enters a particular court level and becomes a new item of work to be dealt with by the court. This refers to the date when formal notification for a defendant is first received and a new case or file is created by the registry/listing area of the court.

Deal or traffic in illicit drugs

The supply or purchase of an illicit drug or controlled substance of any quantity, or the possession of an illicit drug or controlled substance where the amount involved is deemed to be of a quantity for commercial activity. This is a Subdivision of ASOC which includes the following Groups: Deal or traffic in illicit drugs - commercial quantity (1021) and Deal or traffic in illicit drugs - non-commercial quantity (1022).

Deception and related offences

The use of deception, secret agreements or the making of false instruments with the intent of dishonestly obtaining property, services or other advantage. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Fraud, forgery or false financial instruments (091), Counterfeiting currency and related offences (092), Dishonest conversion (093), Bribery (094) and Other deception offences (099).

Defendant

A person or organisation against whom one or more criminal charges have been laid and which are heard together as the one unit of work by a court level. It should be noted that the Criminal Courts collection does not enumerate distinct persons or organisations. If a person or organisation is a defendant in a number of criminal cases active within the courts during the reference period, such a person or organisation will be counted more than once in this statistical collection.

Dishonest conversion

Dishonestly converting money or goods which came into a person's possession or control not involving the use of deception or taking without consent. This is a Subdivision of ASOC which includes the Group: Dishonest conversion (0931).

Disorderly conduct

Offences involving personal conduct that is offensive to members of the public or is indicative of criminal intent. This is a Subdivision of ASOC which includes the following Groups: Trespass (1311), Offensive language (1312), Offensive behaviour (1313), Criminal intent (1314), Conspiracy (1315) and Disorderly conduct, n.e.c. (1319).

District Court

See Intermediate Court.

Duration

The time elapsed between specified dates for a defendant that has been finalised. This collection provides statistics on the number of weeks elapsed between the date of initiation and date of finalisation.

Ex officio

The laying of charges against a defendant directly in a Higher Criminal Court, by the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Attorney-General. This process is regarded as a method of initiation into the Higher Criminal Courts.

Final plea

The last plea entered by a defendant in relation to a criminal charge that is laid against him/her in a court.

Finalised defendant

A person or organisation for whom all charges have been formally completed so that the defendant ceases to be an item of work to be dealt with by the courts.

Fine

A monetary penalty where the offender is required to pay a sum of money to the 'Crown'.

Forfeiture of property order

The deprivation of a person of his/her property as a penalty for some act or omission.

Fraud, forgery or false financial instruments

Inducing a course of action, by deceit or other dishonest conduct, with the intent to obtain money or other benefit or to evade a liability. The making, use or possession of a forged financial instrument with an intention to obtain an advantage. This is a Subdivision of ASOC which includes the following Groups: Cheque or credit card fraud (0911), Make, use or possess equipment to make false/illegal financial instrument (0912), Fraudulent trade practices (0913), Prescription drug fraud (0914), Fare evasion (0915) and Fraud, n.e.c. (0919).

Fully suspended sentence

A custodial order which provides that all of the sentence not be served, subject to the person being of good behaviour for the length of the sentence.

Good behaviour bond/recognisance orders

An obligation, with or without sureties, aimed at securing the performance of some act by the person bound by the undertaking.

Guilty plea

The formal statement by a defendant admitting culpability in relation to a criminal charge. By pleading guilty, a defendant indicates to the court that they do not intend to contest the charge. If the guilty plea is accepted by the court, the charge will be considered to be proven.

Guilty verdict

An outcome of a trial in which a court determines that the criminal charge against a defendant has been proven.

Higher Criminal Court

The criminal jurisdiction of an Intermediate Court or Supreme Court.

Home detention

An order in which a person serves part of a sentence of imprisonment at home or at another approved place that is not a correctional institution.

Homicide and related offences

The unlawful killing, attempted unlawful killing or conspiracy to kill another person. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Murder (011), Conspiracies and attempts to murder (012) and Manslaughter and driving causing death (013).

Illicit drug offences

The possession, sale, dealing or trafficking, importing or exporting, manufacture or cultivation of drugs or other substances prohibited under legislation. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Import or export illicit drugs (101), Deal or traffic in illicit drugs (102), Manufacture or cultivate illicit drugs (103), Possess and/or use illicit drugs (104) and Other illicit drug offences (109).

Import or export illicit drugs

The importing of illicit drugs or controlled substances into Australia, or the exporting of illicit drugs or controlled substances from Australia. This is a Subdivision of ASOC which includes the following Groups: Import illicit drugs (1011) and Export illicit drugs (1012).

Imprisonment

See Custodial order.

Imprisonment with determined term

An order requiring a person to be detained for a specified period of time within a facility built especially for the purpose of incarceration.

Indictable offence

A serious criminal offence as defined by specific Commonwealth, state or territory legislation. Charges relating to indictable offences generally require a trial and/or sentence hearing in a Higher Criminal Court but under some circumstances, a defendant can elect to have these charges dealt with in a Court of Summary Jurisdiction.

Initial plea

The first plea entered by a defendant in relation to a criminal charge that is laid against him or her in a court. For charges that were committed to a Higher Criminal Court from a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, this corresponds to the plea at committal.

Initiated defendant

A person or organisation for whom at least one criminal charge has been formally started within a court so that the defendant is regarded as a new item of work to be dealt with by that court.

Intensive corrections order

An order that has a component of restricted liberty and requires a person to report to a correctional services officer on a specified basis.

Intermediate Court

A Higher Court level (known either as the District Court or County Court) which has legal powers that are between those of the Court of Summary Jurisdiction and the Supreme Court and deals with the majority of cases involving serious criminal offences. An Intermediate Court is presided over by a Judge, and has original jurisdiction to hear trial and sentence matters relating to most indictable offences. In some states, the Intermediate Court may have appellate jurisdiction over decisions made in the Court of Summary Jurisdiction. Note: As Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory do not have an Intermediate Court, all indictable offences are heard in the Supreme Court.

Jurisdiction

The legal power or authority which may be exercised by a particular court level and within which the judgements or orders of the court can be enforced or executed. The criminal jurisdiction of a court includes the original and appellate jurisdictions. Each court level has its own defined jurisdictional limits and these vary across states and territories.

Licence disqualification/ suspension/amendment

An order relating to the cancellation/suspension or amendment of a licence/permit, or the review or modification of conditions associated with it.

Life and indeterminate imprisonment

The most serious sentence of imprisonment.

Life - This does not necessarily mean that the person will be held in custody for the term of his/her natural life. In some states or territories a minimum time to serve in custody is specified by the court, while in others an administrative body such as a Parole Board makes this decision.

Indeterminate - Persons declared as habitual criminals, persons who are either permanently or temporarily deemed not responsible for their actions because of a mental disorder or intellectual disability and prisoners who are sentenced to imprisonment but have not had a release date set. The prisoner may be released, at any time, at the discretion of the administrative body within each jurisdiction responsible for making that decision.

Local Court

See Court of Summary Jurisdiction.

Magistrates' Criminal Court

A Court of Summary Jurisdiction, which for the purposes of this collection includes only the adult criminal Magistrates' Court. Where used in this publication, the term 'Magistrates' Court' includes the Court of Petty Sessions. Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory have Magistrates' Courts, while New South Wales has a Local Court and Western Australia has a Court of Petty Sessions. Excluded from this collection are the other Courts of Summary Jurisdiction, including Childrens' Courts, Electronic Courts and Drug Courts.

Manufacture or cultivate illicit drugs

Actions intended to result in the manufacture of controlled substances or growing of plants used to make illicit drugs. This is a Subdivision of ASOC which includes the Group: Manufacture or cultivate illicit drugs (1031).

Mean

The average of a set of population values.

Median

The middle value of a population when values are ranked by order of size. Below and above this point lie an equal number of values.

Method of finalisation

The process which leads to the completion of a criminal charge within a court so that it ceases to be an item of work in that court. There are different methods by which a charge may be finalised (see Appendix 2).

Method of initiation

The process which leads to the introduction of a criminal charge within a court so that it becomes a new item of work to be dealt with by that court. There are different methods by which a charge may be initiated.

Minor indictable offence

See Triable either way offence.

Miscellaneous offences

Offences involving the breach of statutory rules or regulations governing activities that are prima facie legal, where such offences are not explicitly dealt with under any other Division of ASOC. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Harassment and related offences (161), Public health and safety offences (162), Commercial/industry/financial regulation (163) and Other miscellaneous offences (169).

Monetary orders

Includes: Fines, Orders as recompense to victim (includes restitution orders and compensation orders) and Other monetary orders, n.e.c.

Murder

The unlawful killing of another person where there is either the intent to kill, the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, with the knowledge that it was probable that death or grievous bodily harm would occur (reckless indifference to life), or without intent to kill in the course of committing a crime (felony murder). This is ASOC Group 0111.

National Offence Index

The National Offence Index (NOI) is a seriousness ranking of the ASOC and is used to determine a principal offence when a defendant has multiple adjudicated charges. For defendants proven guilty, the Index is applied to the associated charges proven guilty. For acquitted defendants, the Index is applied to all acquitted charges. These charges are allocated an Index and the highest ranking charge for each adjudicated defendant is taken as the principal offence (see Appendix 4).

Nominal penalty

Release of a defendant without an order following sentence which may or may not have conditions attached. Includes: Rising of the Court and Discharge/Dismissal.

Non-adjudicated finalisation

A method of finalisation whereby a charge is considered completed and ceases to be active in a court even though there has not been a determination on whether the defendant is guilty. This includes where a charge is withdrawn by the prosecution and where a defendant is deemed unfit to plead to the charge.

Non-custodial orders

Sentences imposed on an offender that do not involve custody. Includes: Community supervision or work orders, Monetary orders and Other non-custodial orders.

Not guilty plea

The formal statement by a defendant denying culpability in relation to a charge. This also includes 'no plea', 'plea reserved' and 'other defended plea'.

Not guilty verdict

See Acquitted.

Offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations

An act or omission that is deemed to be prejudicial to the effective carrying out of justice procedures or any government operations including those specifically concerned with maintaining government security. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Breach of justice order (151), Other offences against justice procedures (152), Offences against government security (153) and Offences against government operations (154).

Orders as recompense to victim

A sentence order which requires the offender to pay a sum of money for a purpose other than fine, usually in relation to reparation to a victim. Includes: Restitution and Compensation orders.

Original jurisdiction

The power of a court to hear criminal charges and determine whether or not a defendant is proven guilty and/or to sentence defendants where a charge has been proven (see Jurisdiction).

Other initiation

All methods of initiation other than committed for trial, committed for sentence and ex officio indictment of charges. This includes a retrial ordered as a result of an appeal and the transfer of charges involving summary offences from a Court of Summary Jurisdiction to a Higher Criminal Court.

Other non-custodial orders

Other Non-custodial orders not elsewhere classified in Division 200, Non-custodial orders. Includes: Good behaviour bond/recognisance orders, Licence disqualification/suspension/amendment, Forfeiture of property order, Nominal penalty and Other non-custodial orders n.e.c.

Periodic detention

Persons given periodic detention are in custody for two consecutive days in a week (e.g. weekends) and remain at liberty during the rest of the week.

Plea

The formal statement by, or on behalf of, the defendant in response to a criminal charge that has been laid in a court. The nature of this response indicates whether or not the defendant intends to contest that charge.

Possess and/or use illicit drugs

The possession of a non-commercial quantity and/or use of an illicit drug or other controlled substance. This is a Subdivision of ASOC which includes the following Groups: Possess illicit drug (1041) and Use illicit drug (1042).

Principal offence adjudicated

The offence category (based on ASOC) associated with the main charge that has an adjudicated finalisation (i.e. an outcome of acquitted or proven guilty). For a defendant who has a method of finalisation of proven guilty, the principal offence refers to the main charge proven guilty while for a defendant who has a method of finalisation of acquitted, the principal offence refers to the main charge acquitted (see National Offence Index).

Principal sentence type

The main sentence type for a defendant based on the hierarchy of the Sentence Type Classification (see Appendix 5).

Probation orders

An order which requires an offender to be released to the supervision of an authorised officer. Includes any order which requires an offender to report periodically to an authorised officer but does not include any period of restricted liberty. Excludes: Intensive supervision orders and Intensive corrections orders that contain periods of restricted liberty.

Property damage and environmental pollution

The wilful and unlawful destruction, damage or defacement of public or private property, or the pollution of property or a definable entity held in common by the community. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Property damage (121) and Environmental pollution (122).

Proven guilty

An outcome of criminal proceedings in which a court accepts a guilty plea entered by a defendant or arrives at a guilty verdict following a trial.

Public order offences

Offences involving personal conduct that involves or may lead to a breach of public order and decency, or that is indicative of criminal intent, or that is otherwise regulated or prohibited on moral or ethical grounds. The 'victim' of these offences is generally the public at large. However, some offences such as offensive language and offensive behaviour may be directed towards a single victim. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Disorderly conduct (131) and Regulated public order activities (132).

Receiving or handling proceeds of crime

Receiving, handling or processing money or goods taken or obtained illegally. This is a Subdivision of ASOC which includes the Group: Receiving or handling proceeds of crime (0831).

Regulated public order offences

Offences involving behaviour that is regulated or prohibited on moral or ethical grounds. This is a Subdivision of ASOC which includes the following Groups: Betting and gambling offences (1321), Liquor and tobacco offences (1322), Censorship offences (1323), Prostitution offences (1324), Offences against public order sexual standards (1325) and Regulated public order offences, n.e.c. (1329).

Road traffic and motor vehicle regulatory offences

Offences relating to vehicles and most forms of road traffic, including offences pertaining to the licensing, registration, roadworthiness or use of vehicles, bicycle offences and pedestrian offences. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Driving licence offences (141), Road vehicle registration and roadworthiness offences (142), Regulatory driving offences (143) and Pedestrian offences (144).

Robbery, extortion and related offences

Acts intended to unlawfully gain money, property or any other thing of value from, or cause detriment to, another person by using the threat of force or any other coercive measure. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Robbery (061) and Blackmail and extortion (062).

Sentence type

A penalty or punishment imposed by a court upon a defendant who is proven guilty of a criminal offence.

Sexual assault and related offences

Acts of a sexual nature against another person which are non-consensual or consent is proscribed. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Sexual assault (031) and Non-assaultive sexual offences (032).

Summary offence

A criminal offence which is regarded as less serious relative to an indictable offence as defined by specific Commonwealth, state or territory legislation (see Indictable offence). Charges relating to summary offences are generally dealt with by a Court of Summary Jurisdiction and do not require a trial by jury in a Higher Criminal Court. In some states and territories, a defendant against whom summary charges are laid may be transferred to a Higher Criminal Court for sentencing, (e.g. if the Magistrate wants to impose a penalty which exceeds his/her jurisdictional powers).

Supreme Court

A Higher Court level which deals with the most serious criminal charges and has the greatest legal powers of all the state and territory court levels. A Supreme Court is presided over by a Judge, and has jurisdiction to hear trial and sentence matters relating to all indictable offences. In states which have an Intermediate Court, the Supreme Court is usually reserved to deal with the most serious indictable offences, such as murder. The Supreme Court may also have appellate jurisdiction over decisions made in a Court of Summary Jurisdiction or the Intermediate Court.

Suspended sentence

A custodial order which provides that all or part of the sentence not be served, subject to the person being of good behaviour for the length of the suspended part.

Theft and related offences

The unlawful taking or obtaining of money or goods not involving the use of force, threat of force or violence, coercion or deception, with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner or possessor of the use of the money or goods, or the receiving or handling of money or goods obtained unlawfully. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Motor vehicle theft and related offences (081), Theft (except motor vehicles) (082), Receiving or handling proceeds of crime (083) and Illegal use of property (except motor vehicles) (084).

Theft/illegal use of motor vehicle

The taking of another person's motor vehicle illegally and without permission with the intent of either temporarily or permanently depriving the owner or possessor of the use of the motor vehicle. These are ASOC Groups: Theft of a motor vehicle (0811) and Illegal use of a motor vehicle (0812).

Transfer between court levels

A court outcome ordering that a criminal charge be transferred to another court level to be adjudicated and/or sentenced. For all transfers, except those between Higher Court levels, this process is regarded as a method of finalisation for the court level ordering the transfer and a method of initiation for the court level to which the defendant's charge(s) were transferred. Defendants who transfer from one Higher Court level to another will be considered as initiated only once (in the level they first entered) and finalised only once (from the level they finally left).

Treatment orders

An order requiring a person to undertake a specified rehabilitation program aimed at behavioural or attitudinal modification.

Triable either way offence

An indictable offence which a defendant can elect to have heard either in a Court of Summary Jurisdiction before a Magistrate or in a Higher Criminal Court before a Judge and jury.

Trial

The examination of, and decision on, a matter of law or fact by a court. Where a defendant enters a not guilty plea or other defended plea in the committal proceedings, they are committed to a Higher Criminal Court for trial. In the Higher Criminal Courts, trials are usually conducted before a Judge and jury whereby the Judge rules on questions of law and the jury is responsible for determining whether or not the defendant is guilty. Some states and territories also allow for a trial before a Judge alone in the Higher Criminal Courts.

Unfit to plead

An outcome of court proceedings in which a court determines that a defendant's mental status is such that he/she is unfit to plead in relation to the charge against him/her. For the purposes of this collection, this process is regarded as a non-adjudicated method of finalisation.

Unlawful entry with intent/burglary, break and enter

The unlawful entry of a structure with the intent to commit an offence where the entry is either forced or unforced. This is a Division of ASOC which includes burglary and break and enter offences (071).

Weapons and explosives offences

Offences relating to weapons or explosives which are either prohibited or legalised/regulated by legislation. This is a Division of ASOC which includes the following Subdivisions: Prohibited weapons/explosives offences (111) and Regulated weapons/explosives offences (112).

Withdrawn by prosecution

The formal withdrawal of charges by the prosecution (e.g. police, Director of Public Prosecutions, Attorney-General). This includes nolle prosequi and no true bill.


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