is chapter presents information about defendants finalised in the criminal jurisdiction of the Magistrates' Courts in 2011-12.
Magistrates' Courts (known as Local Courts in New South Wales) operate in all states and territories of Australia. These courts try and sentence criminal matters relating to summary offences (such as traffic offences and disorderly behaviour) and may also hear indictable offences summarily.
Magistrates' Courts data presented here exclude cases such as bail reviews and applications to amend sentences or penalties 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.
The offence categories referred to relate to the principal offence - that is, the most serious offence type for the defendant's case. For more information about principal offence see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 40-44.
National data for the Magistrates' Courts are available from 2003-04.
The data in this chapter are drawn from the Magistrates' Courts data cube and selected State and Territory data cubes. Indigenous Status data are drawn from the Criminal Courts, Indigenous Status data cube.
- The number of defendants finalised in the Magistrates' Courts decreased by 2%, from 533,857 in 2010-11 to 523,166 in 2011-12. This is the lowest number of finalisations since 2005-06.
- Of those defendants finalised in the Magistrates' Courts, 89% (467,173) were finalised by an adjudicated outcome (guilty plea or a court determination of their guilt or innocence). Withdrawal of charges by the prosecution accounted for 8% of finalisations while transfers to other courts accounted for 2% of all finalisations.
- Most defendants (42% or 219,853) were finalised for traffic and vehicle regulatory offences, followed by acts intended to cause injury (11% or 56,933).
- Approximately 9 in 10 defendants proven guilty were sentenced to non-custodial orders.
- Indigenous Status data are available for defendants in four states and territories: time series data are available for New South Wales, Queensland and Northern Territory and data are available for the first time for South Australia.