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4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2010–11 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/02/2012   
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Contents >> Children's Courts >> DEFENDANTS FINALISED

DEFENDANTS FINALISED

Defendants can have their charges finalised via different methods (see Appendix 2). The main categories of finalisation are: adjudicated finalisations, where the court has made a finding as to the guilt or otherwise of the defendant; finalisation by transfer between court levels; withdrawal by the prosecution; and other methods such as defendant deceased or unfit to plead.

In 2010-11, the number of defendants finalised (36,236) was the lowest since the Children's Courts collection began in 2006-07. Six jurisdictions had decreases in the numbers of defendants finalised in the Children's Courts in 2010-11: Victoria (22%), Western Australia (18%), South Australia (11%), New South Wales (9%), the Australian Capital Territory (8%) and Queensland (7%). The remaining two states and territories had increases: Tasmania (23%) and the Northern Territory (5%) (Table 4.11).

DEFENDANTS FINALISED, 2006-07 to 2010-11
Graph: DEFENDANTS FINALISED, 2006–07 to 2010–11



Principal offence

In 2010-11, those finalised with a principal offence of theft formed the largest proportion of defendants (21%) in the Children's Courts. This offence category was also the largest for 2009-10. This was followed by: acts intended to cause injury (20%), unlawful entry with intent (13%), public order (9%), and traffic offences (8%). Combined, these principal offences accounted for almost three-quarters (71%) of defendants finalised in the Children's Courts in 2010-11 (Table 4.1).

DEFENDANTS FINALISED, Selected principal offence
Graph: DEFENDANTS FINALISED, Selected principal offence



Sex

In 2010-11, 79% (28,698) of defendants heard in the Children's Courts were males, while females accounted for 21% (7,517). Both males and females decreased by 12% from 2009-10. Males went down from 32,663 and females from 8,580 (Table 4.2).

The proportion of males and females was similar across the states and territories. Queensland had the lowest proportion of males (76%) and the Northern Territory had the highest proportion of males (84%) (Table 4.3).

The proportion of males proven guilty and the proportion of females proven guilty was the same (79%). Both males and females had the same proportion of defendants acquitted (4%) (Table 4.6).


Age

The largest proportion of defendants finalised in the Children's Courts were aged 17 years at the time of finalisation (25% or 9,124), followed by those aged 16 years (24% or 8,686). Those aged 10 to 12 years comprised 3% (1,084).

The largest proportion of males finalised were aged 17 years (26%), followed by those aged 16 years (24%). The age profile for females was younger with the largest proportion of females finalised aged 16 years (25%) followed by those aged 17 years (21%) (Table 4.6).


Charges withdrawn by the prosecution

Defendants finalised through charges being withdrawn by the prosecution decreased by 16% from 3,942 in 2009-10 to 3,318 in 2010-11 (Table 4.2).

During 2010-11, offences with the largest proportion of defendants finalised through charges withdrawn by the prosecution were (Table 4.5):
  • sexual assault (21% or 133);
  • homicide (18% or 6); and
  • robbery and extortion (13% or 211).

States and territories with a higher proportion of withdrawns than the national average (9%) were South Australia and the Northern Territory (both 17%), the Australian Capital Territory (14%) and Victoria (12%). Tasmania had the smallest proportion of defendants finalised through charges withdrawn (2%) (Table 4.3).


Defendants acquitted

In 2010-11, 1,417 or 4% of defendants finalised in the Children's Courts were acquitted.

For those acquitted, the largest proportion of defendants had the following principal offences: acts intended to cause injury (30%), theft (19%), unlawful entry with intent (10%), property damage (8%) and public order offences (7%) (Table 4.5).

DEFENDANTS ACQUITTED, Selected principal offence
Graph: DEFENDANTS ACQUITTED, Selected principal offence


The states with the highest proportions of defendants acquitted were Tasmania (22%), followed by New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (both 7%). South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia had the lowest proportion at 1% (Table 4.3).

DEFENDANTS ACQUITTED, State and territory proportions of adjudicated outcomes
Graph: DEFENDANTS ACQUITTED, State and territory proportions of adjudicated outcomes



Defendants proven guilty

The proven guilty population comprises defendants who plead guilty or were found guilty, including those found guilty ex-parte.

Defendants proven guilty in the Children's Courts accounted for 28,544 (79%) of defendants finalised in 2010-11.

For those proven guilty, the largest proportion of defendants had the following principal offences: theft (21%), acts intended to cause injury (20%), unlawful entry with intent (13%), traffic and public order (both 9%) (Table 4.5).

DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Selected principal offence
Graph: DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Selected principal offence


Queensland had the largest proportion of defendants proven guilty (87%), while South Australia had the smallest (61%) (Table 4.3).





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