Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2006-07 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2008   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

GLOSSARY

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 by reason of mental illness or condition at the time the defendant committed the offence. This is a method of finalisation.


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:Australian Standard Offence Classification). The main purpose of Divisions is to provide a limited number of categories which represent broad groups of criminal offences. The Subdivision and Group levels provide increasingly detailed dissections of these broad categories.


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.


Charge


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


Charged


In this publication, the term charged refers to those defendants who were adjudicated i.e. finalised via a plea of guilty or a decision by the court as to their guilt or innocence of the final charge(s) laid against them.


Children's Court


The Children's Court is primarily a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, to hear and determine criminal charges against persons generally aged less than 18 years. The Children's Court may also determine some minor indictable offences and conduct committal proceedings in relation to young people who have been charged with major indictable offences.


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 Court to be sentenced. This process is regarded as a method of finalisation for the Magistrates' Court and the Children's Court, and a method of initiation into a Higher 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 Court to stand trial. This process is regarded as a method of finalisation for the Magistrates' Court and the Children's Court, and a method of initiation into a Higher Court level.


Community supervision or work orders


Sentences imposed on a defendant requiring a person to perform work within the community or report to a person nominated by the court (for example a corrections officer). These non-custodial orders include: community service orders, probation orders, treatment orders and referral to conference.


Convicted


In this publication the term convicted refers to those defendants who were proven guilty of at least one of the final charge(s) laid against them.


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 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


Sentences imposed on a defendant requiring a person to have restricted liberty for a specified period of time through detainment in an institution or home. The court may set aside the order subject to the person being of good behaviour. Includes: custody in a correctional institution, custody in the community and fully suspended sentence.


Custody in a correctional institution


Sentences imposed on a defendant 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, imprisonment with partially suspended term, periodic detention, juvenile detention with determined term, and juvenile detention with partially suspended term.


Custody in the community


Sentences imposed on a defendant 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 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 court.


Date of initiation


The date on which a defendant is regarded as having started within the Higher, Magistrates' or Children's Courts as a new item of work. The date of committal is used as the date of initiation for defendants who were committed for trial or sentence from a court of Summary Jurisdiction to a Higher Court. For defendants who have any other method of initiation (e.g. exofficio, 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.


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 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 the date of initiation and the date of finalisation for a defendant that has been finalised.


Finalised appearance


Where charges were finalised at different court appearances in the same case for a defendant, these were counted as finalised defendants at each appearance rather than being aggregated as a single finalised defendant at the latest charge finalisation date. This relates to New South Wales Magistrates' and Children's Courts defendants.


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 court.


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.


Guilty ex-parte


Where the court adjudicates charge(s) and the charge(s) are proven either: (i) where the defendant pleaded guilty and the charges are proven in his/her absence, or (ii) the defendant failed to appear and the charges were proven on the basis of the evidence presented. This is a method of finalisation in the Magistrates' and Children's Courts.


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, and this is the method of finalisation.


Guilty verdict


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


Higher Court


The criminal jurisdiction of an Intermediate Court or Supreme Court.


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 custody in a correctional institution.


Imprisonment with determined term


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


Imprisonment with partially suspended term


An order requiring a person to be detained for part of the specified period of time within a facility built especially for the purpose of incarceration, subject to the person being of good behaviour.


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 Court but under some circumstances, a defendant can elect to have these charges dealt with in a Court of Summary Jurisdiction.


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. 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 jurisdiction. Each court level has its own defined jurisdictional limits and these vary across states and territories.


Juvenile detention with determined term


An order requiring a person to be detained in a juvenile facility for all of the specified period of time.


Juvenile detention with partially suspended term


An order requiring a person to be detained in a juvenile facility for part of the specified period of time, subject to the person being of good behaviour.


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' Court


Where used in this publication, the term 'Magistrates' Court' includes the adult criminal Magistrates' Court and the Court of Petty Sessions and New South Wales Local Court. Excluded from this are other Courts of Summary Jurisdiction, such as Children's Courts, Electronic Courts and Drug Courts.


See Court of Summary Jurisdiction for further information.


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).


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: Method of Finalisation Classification).


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


Sentences imposed that include: fines, orders as recompense to victim (includes restitution orders and compensation orders) and other monetary orders, n.e.c. (does not include court levies and fees).


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 a Subdivision of ASOC which includes the Group: murder (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 order and the highest ranking charge for each adjudicated defendant is taken as the principal offence (see Appendix: National Offence Index).


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 a defendant that do not involve being held in custody. Includes: community supervision or work orders, monetary orders and other non-custodial orders.


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).


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 (refer to Jurisdiction).


Other illicit drug offences


Other illicit drug offences not elsewhere classified (1099) in Division 10 of the ASOC, illicit drug offences. Includes: possess money with intent to obtain drugs; possess pipes, syringes, other utensils associated with the use of drugs; permit premises to be used for taking, selling or distributing drugs; and fail to keep register for drugs of addiction.


Other non-custodial orders


Sentences imposed on a defendant that do not require custody, are not fully suspended, and are not elsewhere classified in the non-custodial orders category of the Sentence Type classification. 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


Sentence imposed on a defendant requiring a person to be in custody for two consecutive days in a week (e.g. weekends) and remain at liberty during the rest of the week. This sentencing option is available in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.


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. If the defendant does not enter a plea, this is treated by the court as if the defendant had pleaded not guilty.


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


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


The main sentence type for a defendant based on the hierarchy of the Sentence Type Classification.


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 that a charge is proven through a guilty plea entered by a defendant or the defendant is declared guilty by the court.


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 offences (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


A penalty or penalties 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 Court. In some states and territories, a defendant against whom summary charges are laid may be transferred to a Higher 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.


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 to non-court agency


A court outcome ordering that a criminal charge be transferred to an agency outside the court for mediation e.g. a juvenile justice agency.


Transfer to other 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).


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 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 Court for trial. In the Higher 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 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 charges against him/her. For the purposes of this collection, this process is regarded as a non-adjudicated method of finalisation.


Unlawful entry with intent


The unlawful entry of a structure with the intent to commit an offence where the entry is either forced or unforced (ASOC Division 7).


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 the 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. Withdrawal of charges allows the prosecution to charge the defendant on the same incident at a later time. This is a non-adjudicated method of finalisation.


Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.