4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2014-15 Quality Declaration 
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KEY FINDINGS

NUMBER OF DEFENDANTS FINALISED

There were 588,167 defendants finalised in Australian state and territory criminal courts in 2014–15, an increase of 2% (9,015 defendants) compared with 2013–14. This represented a return to similar levels as those in 2010–11. (Table 1)

Graph Image for NUMBER OF DEFENDANTS FINALISED, All Courts, 2010-11 to 2014-15

Source(s): Criminal Courts, Australia


COURT LEVEL

The Magistrates' Courts continue to account for the greatest number of finalised defendants. In 2014–15, 93% (545,096) of all finalised defendants had matters finalised in the Magistrates’ Courts. In comparison, the Children's Courts and Higher Courts accounted for 5% (27,844) and 3% (15,222) of finalised defendants respectively.

Compared with 2013–14, the number of finalised defendants increased by 2% in both the Magistrates’ Courts (10,489) and the Higher Courts (281). The number of defendants in the Children's Courts decreased by 6% (1,753) over the same period, continuing decreases in previous years.

The decrease in the number of defendants finalised in the Children's Courts corresponded with a 7% (4,788) decrease in the total number of defendants aged 10–19 years compared with 2013–14. (Table 1)

Graph Image for NUMBER OF DEFENDANTS FINALISED, Children's Courts, 2010-11 to 2014-15

Source(s): Criminal Courts, Australia


PRINCIPAL OFFENCE

Illicit drug offences

The increase in the number of defendants finalised was mainly driven by the 17% (8,487) increase in Illicit drug offences compared with 2013–14. Numbers of defendants finalised for Illicit drug offences have been increasing since 2010–11. (Table 1)

Graph Image for NUMBER OF DEFENDANTS FINALISED, All Courts, Principal offence of Illicit drugs, 2010-11 to 2014-15

Source(s): Criminal Courts, Australia


Illicit drug offences accounted for 10% (59,341) of all finalised defendants in 2014–15, compared with 9% (50,854) in 2013–14. It was the most prevalent principal offence for defendants finalised in the Higher Courts (25% or 3,745).

Of defendants finalised with a principal offence of Illicit drug offences, the majority (58% or 34,243 defendants) were finalised for Possess and/or use illicit drugs. This offence increased by 21% (5,834 defendants) compared with 2013–14. (Table 1)

Other principal offences

After Illicit drug offences, defendants finalised for Offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations represented the second greatest increase compared with the previous year (10% or 4,079 defendants). Increases in this offence were driven by:
  • Offences against government operations (29% or 1,584), mainly due to failure to vote offences following the 2013 Australian Federal Election; and
  • Breach of violence and non-violence restraining orders (11% or 1,806).
Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences remained the most prevalent principal offence in 2014–15, accounting for 35% (207,793) of all finalised defendants. The number of defendants finalised for this offence decreased by 2% (4,323) compared with 2013–14.

The second most common principal offence was Acts intended to cause injury, which accounted for 12% (69,228) of finalised defendants. (Table 1)