This chapter presents information about defendants finalised in the criminal jurisdiction of the Magistrates' Courts in 2010-11.
Magistrates' Courts (known as Local Courts in New South Wales) are in operation 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 also may 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 i.e. the most serious offence type with which the defendant was charged. For more information about principal offence see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 40-44.
National data for the Magistrates' Courts are available from 2003-04.
- The number of defendants finalised in the Magistrates' Courts decreased by 12%, from 603,604 in 2009-10 to 533,857 in 2010-11. This is the second lowest number of finalisations recorded in the Magistrates' Courts collection.
- Most defendants (43% or 227,056) were finalised for traffic and vehicle regulatory offences, followed by acts intended to cause injury (11% or 56,996).
- The proportion of male to female defendants has remained relatively stable since 2005-06, with males accounting for 77% (409,491) of the 2010-11 total.
- During 2010-11, 481,645 or 90% of defendants finalised in the Magistrates' Courts had their cases adjudicated. Other methods of finalisation included charges withdrawn by the prosecution (7% or 38,923) and transfers to other courts (2% or 12,582).
- The majority (97% or 466,429) of defendants whose cases were adjudicated in the Magistrates' Courts in 2010-11 were proven guilty.
- Approximately 9 in 10 defendants proven guilty were sentenced to non-custodial orders.