This chapter presents information about defendants finalised in the criminal jurisdiction of the Higher Courts in 2010-11. The Higher Courts refers to the grouping of the Intermediate (the District or County Court) and Supreme Court levels.
Higher Courts are in operation in all states and territories of Australia. These courts try and sentence matters relating to indictable and serious criminal offences.
Higher 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 Higher Courts are available from 1995.
- The number of defendants finalised in the Higher Courts decreased by 3%, from 16,834 in 2009-10 to 16,295 in 2010-11. This is the lowest number of finalisations since 2006-07.
- Of those defendants finalised in the Higher Courts, 85% (13,908) were finalised by a guilty plea or a court determination of their guilt or innocence. Withdrawal of charges by the prosecution accounted for 13% of finalisations.
- Defendants finalised for charges of sexual assault had the lowest proportion (60%) proven guilty of all principal offences. This offence also had the largest proportion of charges acquitted (19%).
- More than 8 in 10 defendants proven guilty were sentenced to custodial orders.