Magistrates in Courts of Petty Sessions hear and determine simple offences, crimes triable summarily under State and Commonwealth legislation, breaches of duty, applications under various State and Commonwealth statutes, and exercise a wide range of appellate, review functions and licensing functions. Magistrates also hear simple and indictable offences in the Youth Justice Court as well as exercising child-protection and welfare responsibilities under various Acts for children and young people under 18 years.
The most common offences are traffic infringements and less serious instances of stealing, assault and drug offences.
In more serious criminal cases like murder, manslaughter or conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, Magistrates may hold preliminary (committal) hearings. These hearings are held to decide whether there is enough evidence to send the accused person to a higher court for trial.
There were 63,025 criminal cases lodged with the Court of Petty Sessions in Tasmania in 2000-01, an increase of 26.9% on 1999-2000.
The number of minor traffic matters lodged with the Court of Petty Sessions rose by 40.4%, from 31,006 in 1999-2000 to 43,522 in 2000-01.
COURT OF PETTY SESSIONS, Criminal Cases Lodged, Tasmania
|Nature of case|
|Primary criminal lodgements|
|Offences against the person|
|Offences against property|
|Minor criminal lodgements|
|Minor traffic matters(b)|
(a) Includes offences against good order, robbery and extortion and more serious driving offences.
(b) Includes other driving offences such as licensing and registration offences.
Source: Magistrates Court Annual Reports, 1999-2000 and 2000-01.