Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
1308.8 - In fACT - Statistical Information on the ACT and Region, May 2009  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/05/2009   
   Page tools: Print Print Page RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

FEATURE ARTICLE 2: CRIMINAL COURTS IN THE ACT


INTRODUCTION

There are two levels of criminal jurisdiction in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the Supreme Court and the Magistrates' Court (which includes the Children's Court).

Serious criminal matters such as murder, manslaughter and drug trafficking as well as serious sexual offences are dealt within the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is referred to as a Higher Court. Defendants in the Higher Court are entitled to trial before a judge and jury, although the defendant may elect to have the matter heard before a judge alone.

The lower level of criminal courts in the ACT is the Magistrates' Court. Cases heard in the Magistrates' Court do not involve a jury as a magistrate determines the guilt or innocence of the defendant. This is known as a summary proceeding. The majority of criminal cases are heard in this court.

The Children's Court deals with offences alleged to have been committed by young people. Generally this Court deals with summary proceedings.

Territory legislation determines which types of offences may be heard summarily or otherwise in the Magistrates' Court and the Children's Court and which must be referred to the Higher Court.


ALL COURTS

In all criminal courts in the ACT in 2007-08 a total of 5,315 defendants were finalised. A total of 165 (3%) defendants were acquitted and 3,695 (70%) were found guilty. Of those defendants found guilty, 621 (17%) were sentenced to a custodial order and 3,074 (83%) were sentenced to a non-custodial order (includes community supervision or work orders, monetary orders and other non-custodial orders). Of those defendants sentenced to a custodial order 274 were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution, 63 to custody in the community and 284 received fully suspended sentences.

Diagram: All Courts


HIGHER COURT

The Supreme Court is the only higher court in the ACT.

In 2007-08 there were 186 defendants finalised in the Supreme Court in the ACT an increase of 26% from 2006-07 (147 defendants). Defendants comprised 166 males and 20 females. Of the 186 defendants finalised, 36 had their charges withdrawn by the prosecution, or their charges were not adjudicated for other reasons

Of the 150 defendants adjudicated in higher court in 2007-08, the majority (126 or 84%) were found guilty and the remainder (24 or 16%) were acquitted. Of those found guilty, 116 (92%) pleaded guilty and 10 (8%) were found guilty following a trial.

Of the 126 defendants proven guilty, 25% related to Acts intended to cause injury, 21% to Robbery, extortion and related offences, 15% to Unlawful entry with intent, 10% to Illicit drug offences, 9% to Theft and related offences and 8% to Sexual assault and related offences. Of the defendants proven guilty, 107 (85%) were sentenced to custodial orders and 19 (15%) were sentenced to non-custodial orders .Of those sentenced to a custodial order, 49% were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution and 51% to a fully suspended sentence.

HIGHER COURT: OUTCOMES, Australian Capital Territory - 2001-02 to 2007-08
Graph: HIGHER COURT: OUTCOMES, Australian Capital Territory—2001–02 to 2007–08



MAGISTRATES' COURT

Magistrates' Courts operate in all states and territories and try and sentence criminal matters relating to summary offences (such as traffic offences and disorderly behaviour) and hear indictable offences summarily.

Magistrates' Court data presented here exclude matters which do not require the adjudication of charges. Also excluded are breach of bail or parole cases, appeal cases, tribunal matters and defendants for whom a bench warrant is issued, but not executed.

During 2007-08, a total of 4,677 defendants were finalised in the ACT Magistrates' Court, an increase of 5% from 2006-07 (4,434 defendants). Defendants comprised of 3,648 males, 962 females and 67 organisations. Of the 4,677 defendants, 1,331 had their charges withdrawn by the prosecution, or their charges were not adjudicated for other reasons.

Of the 3,346 defendants adjudicated in the Magistrates' Court in 2007-08, the majority (3,243 or 97%) were proven guilty and the remainder (103 or 3%) were acquitted.

Of the 3,243 defendants found guilty, 40% related to Road traffic and motor vehicle regulatory offences, 21% to Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons, 9% to Acts intended to cause injury, 7% to Theft and related offences and 6% to Offences against justice procedures, government security and operations. Of the defendants found guilty, 481 (15%) were sentenced to custodial orders and 2,762 (85%) were sentenced to non-custodial orders. Of those sentenced to a custodial order, 42% were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution, 10% were sentenced to custody in the community and 48% to a fully suspended sentence. Of those sentenced to a non-custodial order, 80% received monetary orders (fines, etc), 13% were given good behaviour bonds, 4% were ordered to undertake community work and 3% received other non-custodial orders.

MAGISTRATES COURT: OUTCOMES, Australian Capital Territory - 2003-04 to 2007-08
Graph: Magistrates Court: Outcomes, ACT 2003-04 to 2007-08



CHILDREN'S COURT

In all states and territories, children under 10 years of age cannot be charged with a criminal offence. The majority of states and territories regard offenders as adult if they are 18 years at the time of the offence; the exception to this is Queensland with defendants aged 17 years being tried as adults.

There were 452 defendants finalised in the ACT Children's Court in 2007-08, an increase of 8% from the 420 finalised in 2006-07. Defendants comprised 364 males and 88 females. Of the 452 defendants, 88 had charges withdrawn by the prosecution, or their charges were not adjudicated for other reasons.

Of the 364 defendants adjudicated in the Children's Court in 2007-08, the majority (326 or 90%) were proven guilty and the remainder (38 or 10%) were acquitted.

Of the 326 defendants proven guilty, 20% related to Theft and related offences, 19% to Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons, 16% to Acts intended to cause injury, 15% to Robbery, extortion and related offences, 7% to Road traffic and motor vehicle regulatory offences and 6% to Property damage and environmental pollution. Of the defendants proven guilty, 33 (10%) were sentenced to custodial orders and 293 (90%) were sentenced to non-custodial orders. Of those sentenced to a custodial order, 55% were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution and 45% were sentenced to custody in the community. Of those sentenced to a non-custodial orders 41% were ordered to undertake community work, 45% were given good behaviour bonds, 15% received monetary orders (fines etc.) and 9% received other non-custodial orders.

CHILDREN'S COURT: OUTCOMES, Australian Capital Territory - 2006-07 to 2007-08
Graph: Children's Court: Outcomes, ACT - 2006-07 to 2007-08



FURTHER INFORMATION

Further information, including treatment of defendants charged with multiple offences or receiving multiple sentences, the Method of Finalisation Classification, the Australian Standard Offence Classification (1997), the National Offence Index and the Sentence Type Classification and comparable information for other states and territories is available in Criminal Courts, Australia, 2007-08 (cat. no. 4513.0).

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.