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4515.0 - Federal Defendants, Australia, 2012-13 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/06/2014   
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INTRODUCTION
DATA SOURCE
SCOPE
REFERENCE PERIOD
CLASSIFICATIONS
COUNTING METHODOLOGY
METHOD OF FINALISATION
PRINCIPAL FEDERAL OFFENCE
PRINCIPAL SENTENCE
FEDERAL OFFENCES
FEDERAL OFFENCE SENTENCES
REVISIONS
STATE AND TERRITORY SPECIFIC ISSUES
COMPARISONS TO OTHER ABS DATA
COMPARISONS TO NON-ABS SOURCES
CONFIDENTIALITY OF TABULAR DATA
RELATED PUBLICATIONS

INTRODUCTION

1 This publication presents information on the characteristics of federal defendants dealt with by Australian state and territory criminal courts. This includes information on the offences, case outcomes and sentences associated with those defendants.

2 The information relates to the criminal jurisdictions of the Higher (Supreme and Intermediate), Magistrates' and Children's Courts in each state and territory. The criminal jurisdiction of the courts includes the trial and sentencing of persons and organisations charged with criminal offences in Australia.

3 Federal defendants are a subset of all criminal courts defendants. Information relating to all defendants finalised in the criminal courts is available in the publication Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0).

DATA SOURCE

4 National statistics are derived from data about each federal defendant provided to the ABS by the state and territory agencies responsible for courts administration. The ABS receives data directly from these agencies in all states and territories except for Queensland (where data are supplied via the Office of the Government Statistician), and New South Wales (where data are supplied via the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research).

5 In order to ensure consistency between the states and territories, jurisdictions are requested to provide data coded according to national classifications and standards. Data are then processed and compiled by the ABS in line with these classifications and standards. For more information see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 18–27.SCOPE

6 The scope of the statistics in this publication includes all defendants with at least one Commonwealth legislative offence that has been finalised in the Higher, Magistrates' or Children's Courts. Defendants with charges against both Commonwealth legislation and State and Territory legislation are still within scope of the collection, however only federal offences are counted for the purposes of this publication.

7 The Federal Defendants collection is limited to defendants finalised, that is a person or organisation for whom all charges have been formally completed so that the defendant ceases to be an item of work to be dealt with by the court.

8 The geographic definition of Australia, as used by the ABS, includes 'Other Territories'. However, these territories are generally out of scope for ABS collections. For the federal defendants data, defendant cases heard in the criminal courts on Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island are included in the counts for Western Australia, where applicable. Defendants finalised in Jervis Bay Territory are not included in any counts in this publication.

Higher Courts

9 Data include defendants finalised in the original jurisdiction of the Supreme and Intermediate Criminal Courts. Children treated as adults by the courts are included in the Higher Courts collection.

Magistrates' Courts

10 Data include defendants finalised in the original jurisdiction of the Magistrates' Criminal Courts. Children treated as adults by the courts are included in the Magistrates' Courts collection.

11 These data include defendants finalised (i.e. persons or organisations for whom all charges have been formally completed so that they cease to be an item of outstanding work) in the Magistrates' Courts for all states and territories. Prior to 2009–10, data for the New South Wales Magistrates' Courts were based on finalised appearances rather than finalised defendants. Where charges were finalised at different court appearances in the same case for a defendant in New South Wales, these were counted as finalised defendants at each appearance rather than being aggregated as a single finalised defendant at the latest charge finalisation date. This counting method resulted in slightly higher defendant counts for New South Wales than if the finalised defendant was counted.
Children's Courts

12 Data include defendants finalised in the original jurisdiction of the Children's Criminal Courts. Prior to 2009–10, data for New South Wales Children's Courts were based on finalised appearances (as described in Magistrates' Courts above).

13 In all states and territories, children aged under 10 years cannot be charged with a criminal offence. The maximum age that defendants are considered a child or juvenile is under the age of 18 years in all states and territories, except Queensland. In Queensland, defendants are considered adults if aged 17 years and over at the time the offence was committed.

Exclusions

14 The Higher, Magistrates' and Children's Courts data exclude cases heard in the criminal jurisdiction of the courts which do not require the adjudication of charges (e.g. bail reviews and applications to amend sentences or penalties). Also excluded are breach of community-based orders, appeal cases, tribunal matters and defendants for whom a bench warrant is issued but not executed.

15 The Magistrates' and Children's Courts data exclude finalisations in specialist courts, such as Drug Courts, Electronic Courts, Fine Recovery Units, Family Violence Courts and Indigenous Courts. Defendants referred to these specialist courts will be included in the mainstream courts data as transfers.

16 The Australian Road Rules are maintained by the National Transport Commission but only apply if they are adopted in each state and territory through local legislation. In the Northern Territory, offences against the Australian Road Rules are identified as federal offences. To ensure consistency across all states and territories, the Australian Road Rules and their state or territory enacting legislation are excluded from the scope of the Federal Defendants collection.REFERENCE PERIOD

17 The statistics in this collection relate to federal defendants who had criminal cases finalised within the Higher, Magistrates' and Children's Courts during the reference period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013.CLASSIFICATIONS

18 The national classifications used to collect and produce data on federal defendants are:
    • Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC) (refer to Appendix 1);
    • Method of finalisation (refer to Appendix 2); and
    • Sentence type (refer to Appendix 3).
19 The classifications provide a framework for organising criminal court information for statistical purposes, and have a hierarchical structure allowing for different levels of detail to be recorded depending on the level of detail available in the source information. Associated with each classification are coding rules which ensure that the counting of information is consistent across states and territories.

Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC)

20 The offence categories used for Federal Defendants statistics in this publication are classified to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC) (cat. no. 1234.0). ANZSOC provides a national framework for classifying offences for statistical purposes. The first release of this classification was Australian Standard Offence Classification 1997 (cat. no. 1234.0) (ASOC97). In 2008 the ABS released the second edition of the Australian Standard Offence Classification (ASOC08), which reflected changes that had occurred in criminal legislation since the first edition was released, as well as satisfying emerging user requirements for offence data. The ASOC was renamed ANZSOC in July 2011 to reflect its adoption in New Zealand. ANZSOC contains the same offence details and classification as ASOC.

National Offence Index (NOI)

21 The National Offence Index (NOI) is a ranking of all ANZSOC Groups and supplementary ANZSOC codes (ANZSOC Divisions and/or ANZSOC Subdivisions). This ranking is based on the concept of seriousness of offence, with a ranking of 1 relating to the ANZSOC code containing the most serious offence.

22 The NOI was revised in 2009 to accommodate the changes made in ASOC08 and supersedes the first version of NOI, which was released in 2002. Principal federal offence information in this publication are based on the 2009 edition of the NOI.

23 The assumptions and rules underpinning the NOI, in particular defining 'offence seriousness' and the impact of this definition on the ranking of offences, need to be considered when using the principal federal offence data in this publication. However, it is important to note that these technical issues are only of practical significance where a choice must be made between output categories. For example, although some sexual assault and related offences are ranked ahead of illicit drug and related offences, they are unlikely to co-occur. For more information see National Offence Index, 2009, (cat. no. 1234.0.55.001).

Method of Finalisation

24 This classification categorises how an offence and defendant has been finalised by a court. Main categories include adjudications, non-adjudications and transfers. For more information see Appendix 2 and paragraphs 30–36.

Sentence Type

25
This classification is used to assign a sentence to offences that are proven guilty. It is also used to determine a principal sentence for a defendant who has been proven guilty. For more information see Appendix 3 and paragraphs 42–45.

Federal Offence Groups


26
This publication presents an alternative set of groups for offence data. The federal offence groups classify the various Commonwealth Acts and Sections into broad categories or themes. More information is provided in Appendix 4.

27
Caution should be used when comparing federal offence groups data with previous years. In 2011–12, a major revision of the federal offence groups was undertaken. The number of categories was expanded, and there was extensive re-mapping of offences to the new categories. Details of the changes that were made are provided in Appendix 4 in the 2011–12 issue of this publication. For 2012–13, further refinements were made, as detailed below, and data for 2011–12 have been revised accordingly:
    • moving social security fraud offences out of Fraud into Social security;
    • moving tax fraud offences out of Fraud into Tax;
    • moving passport fraud offences out of Fraud into Migration offences; and
    • moving environmental offences related to the sea out of Environment into Maritime.
COUNTING METHODOLOGYFinalised defendant

28
The principal counting unit for the Federal Defendants collection is the finalised defendant. A defendant is a person or organisation against whom one or more criminal charges have been laid and which are heard together as the one unit of work by a court at a particular level. It should be noted that the collection does not enumerate unique persons or organisations. If a person or organisation is a defendant in a number of criminal cases dealt with and finalised separately within the courts during the reference period, this person or organisation will be counted more than once within that reference period.

29 Prior to 2010–11, defendants were counted for each case they had finalised during the reference period, irrespective of whether multiple cases were finalised on the same day at the same hearing. From 2010–11, if the defendant has more than one case which is finalised on the same day and at the same hearing, this is counted as one defendant case, irrespective of the dates of initiation. This is called merging defendant records. This counting rule is consistent with the Criminal Courts collection.METHOD OF FINALISATION

30 Method of finalisation describes how a criminal charge is concluded by a criminal court level. For the purposes of the Federal Defendants collection, one method of finalisation is applied to each offence and each defendant within the Higher, Magistrates' and Children's Courts.

Transfers between Higher Court levels

31
Defendants who transfer from one Higher Court level to another Higher Court level are considered as initiated only once (in the level they first entered) and finalised only once (from the level they finally left).

Transfers between Magistrates' and Higher Court levels

32 Defendants who transfer from the Magistrates' Court level to the Higher Court level (or vice versa) are considered as initiated twice (once in each of these levels) and finalised twice (once in each level). Defendants may have some charges finalised in the Magistrates' Courts whilst other charges are committed to the Higher Courts.

Transfers between Children's Courts and Magistrates' or Higher Court levels

33
Defendants who transfer between the Children's Courts and the Magistrates' or Higher Courts (or vice versa) are considered to be initiated twice (once in each court level) and finalised twice (once in each court level).

Higher Courts

34
Where a defendant finalised in a Higher Court has multiple charges and these have different methods of finalisation, the defendant method of finalisation code is determined by the following order of precedence:
    • defendant deceased
    • unfit to plead
    • not guilty by reason of mental illness/condition
    • guilty finding by court
    • charge proven n.f.d.
    • guilty plea by defendant
    • acquitted by court
    • charge unproven n.f.d.
    • charge unproven n.e.c.
    • transfer from a Higher Court to a Magistrates' Court
    • other transfer between court levels n.e.c.
    • transfer to non-court agency
    • withdrawn by the prosecution
    • other non-adjudicated finalisation n.e.c.
    • unknown/not stated.
Magistrates' Courts

35
Where a defendant finalised in a Magistrates' Court has multiple charges and these have different methods of finalisation, the defendant method of finalisation code is determined by the following order of precedence:
    • defendant deceased
    • unfit to plead
    • not guilty by reason of mental illness/condition
    • guilty finding by court
    • charge proven n.f.d.
    • guilty plea by defendant
    • guilty ex-parte
    • acquitted by court
    • charge unproven n.f.d.
    • no case to answer at committal
    • charge unproven n.e.c.
    • committed for trial
    • transfer from a Magistrates' Court to a Higher Court n.f.d.
    • committed for sentence
    • transfer from a Magistrates' Court to a Higher Court n.e.c.
    • other transfer between court levels n.e.c.
    • transfer to non-court agency
    • withdrawn by the prosecution
    • other non-adjudicated finalisation n.e.c.
    • unknown/not stated.
Children's Courts

36
Where a defendant finalised in a Children's Court has multiple charges and these have different methods of finalisation, the defendant method of finalisation code is determined by the following order of precedence:
    • defendant deceased
    • unfit to plead
    • not guilty by reason of mental illness/condition
    • guilty finding by court
    • charge proven n.f.d.
    • guilty plea by defendant
    • guilty ex-parte
    • acquitted by court
    • charge unproven n.f.d.
    • no case to answer at committal
    • charge unproven n.e.c.
    • committed for trial
    • transfer from a Children's Court to a Higher court n.f.d.
    • committed for sentence
    • transfer from a Children's Court to a Higher court n.e.c.
    • transfer from a Children's Court to a Magistrates' Court
    • other transfer between court levels n.e.c.
    • transfer to non-court agency
    • withdrawn by the prosecution
    • other non-adjudicated finalisation n.e.c.
    • unknown/not stated.
PRINCIPAL FEDERAL OFFENCE37 Where a finalised defendant has multiple charges the principal federal offence is determined by:
    • the type of finalisation and/or
    • the highest ranked ANZSOC using the NOI.
38 The type of finalisation is considered in the following order:
    • defendant deceased, unfit to plead, or not guilty by reason of mental illness
    • charges proven
    • charges not proven
    • transfer of charges
    • charges withdrawn
    • other non-adjudicated finalisation
    • unknown/not stated.
39 Where a defendant has a single charge within the type of finalisation (e.g. charges proven, charges not proven, transfer of charges etc.), the principal federal offence is the relevant ANZSOC code (refer to paragraph 20) associated with that charge.

40
Where a defendant has multiple charges, each with the same type of finalisation - for example, the defendant has been found guilty of all charges - the NOI is used to determine the principal federal offence. The principal federal offence is determined as the charge with the highest ranked ANZSOC Group in the NOI. Where the defendant has an offence that is unable to be determined via the NOI (due to missing offence information or the offence being mapped to an ANZSOC code that is not included in the NOI), and this offence cannot be determined as more or less serious than another offence within the same type of finalisation, the principal federal offence is coded to 'not able to be determined'. For more information about the NOI refer to paragraphs 21–23.

41
There is presently no similar hierarchy for classification of the detailed Act and Section level information from which the federal offence groups are derived. As such, whilst defendant level information in this publication can be presented by ANZSOC, it is not possible to represent defendants by a single federal offence group. Data presented by federal offence groups are therefore only available at the offence level. PRINCIPAL SENTENCE

42
Federal defendants who are proven guilty have sentence information reported against them at the offence level. This enables the presentation of two views of sentencing data: the sentence for an offence and the principal sentence for the defendant.

43
A defendant can receive a single sentence for a single offence proven guilty, a single sentence for multiple offences proven guilty, multiple sentences for multiple offences proven guilty and/or multiple sentences assigned to the one offence proven guilty. Where a defendant has multiple sentences, the principal sentence is selected by applying the hierarchy of the Sentence Type Classification (see Appendix 3). This is usually, though not necessarily, the sentence associated with the principal federal offence.

44
It should be noted that not all sentence types are available to magistrates and judges in all jurisdictions. For example, in the Higher Courts, all states and territories with the exception of Western Australia have provision for the use of partially suspended imprisonment sentences. Whether a sentencing option is available in a particular state or territory and court level should be considered when making comparisons.

45
Defendants with a method of finalisation of 'not guilty by reason of mental illness/condition' (an acquitted outcome) may have a specific kind of sentence or order imposed on them by the court. However, these sentences are not within the scope of this collection as the definition of principal sentence, for the purpose of this collection, is that it only applies to defendants with a method of finalisation of proven guilty.FEDERAL OFFENCES

46
The secondary counting unit for the Federal Defendants collection is the federal offence. Rather than apply an order of precedence to the offences for each defendant case to enable the defendant to be represented by one principal federal offence, the Federal Defendants collection allows for the counting of all federal offences finalised. Note that some federal offences may be counted more than once for a proven guilty offence if more than one sentence is handed down. Therefore the count of federal offences may be overstated. These counts are presented in Tables 1, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 14 in the data cubes. FEDERAL OFFENCE SENTENCES

47
The third counting unit for the Federal Defendants collection is federal offence sentences. This is an extension of the federal offence counting unit for federal offences that are proven guilty. A proven guilty offence may have more than one sentence type. When this occurs the offence will be counted for each sentence type handed down. These counts are presented in Table 15 in the data cubes.REVISIONS

48
A number of revisions have been applied to data published for previous years. These are outlined below. The revised data are contained in time comparable tables for this 2012–13 release. Care should be taken when using published data for 2010–11 and 2011–12 that pertain to the issues outlined in paragraphs 49–52.

49 Data for New South Wales have been revised for 2011–12. The revised data addresses issues with method of finalisation coding and minor revisions to a number of other data items.

50 For the Northern Territory, two revisions have been made:
    • fully and partially suspended sentence data have been revised for 2010–11 and 2011–12. The revisions affected principal sentence for a number of defendants. For the years prior to 2010–11, some principal sentences may be over or understated, and the number of offences may be overstated.
    • method of finalisation data for 2010–11 have been updated to reflect changes that were made to the main Criminal Courts data but not subsequently made to Federal Defendants data.
51 For Queensland 2010–11 federal offence data, some offences were mistakenly coded to Communications instead of Commonwealth sexual offences. This error has now been corrected, and data for 2010–11 have been revised. The impact on the data was minimal.

52 Additional revisions to 2010–11 and 2011–12 data have been applied across all states and territories, with a particular impact for Victoria and South Australia. The nature of the revisions are:
    • refinement of data treatment so that a person or organisation who has offences finalised at different court levels on the same day will be counted as multiple defendants. This is consistent with the counting rules of the collection. The revision has resulted in small increases in the number of finalised defendants across most states and territories for both 2010–11 and 2011–12.
    • amendment of the treatment of dual sentencing for Victoria and South Australia for 2010–11 (ie. when a defendant receives a sentence of custody in the community, or fully or partially suspended sentence along with an associated imprisonment sentence). This has resulted in minor changes across sentence type for these two states.
    • an update of Victorian data for 2010–11 as a result of issues identified during processing of the sentence length component of the data. These changes have now been incorporated into the main Criminal Courts data and consequentially, the Federal Defendants data.
STATE AND TERRITORY SPECIFIC ISSUES53 The Australian Capital Territory has a higher proportion of defendants with a principal federal offence of traffic offences than other states and territories. This is due to parking offences charged under the Australian National University Parking and Traffic Statute 2007.

54 Tasmanian data were not available for the 2008–09 and 2009–10 Federal Defendant collections. The 2010–11 Federal Defendant collection included data for Tasmanian Magistrates' and Children's Courts only. From 2011–12, data for all court levels are included for Tasmania.

55 For other state and territory specific issues that have impacted on the Criminal Courts collection more generally, refer to paragraphs 71–108 of the Explanatory Notes of the publication Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0).COMPARISONS TO OTHER ABS DATA

Criminal Courts collection


56
Federal defendants are a subset of all criminal courts defendants. Information relating to all defendants finalised in the criminal courts is available in the publication Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0). However, as a federal defendant may also be charged with state or territory offences, the difference between all finalised defendants in the criminal courts and finalised federal defendants does not equal the count of defendants charged with state or territory offences.COMPARISONS TO NON-ABS SOURCES

57
Due to differing scope and counting rules the data in this publication may not be comparable to data published in other national and state and territory publications.CONFIDENTIALITY OF TABULAR DATA

58
Table cells containing small values have been randomly adjusted to avoid releasing confidential information. Due to this randomisation process, totals may vary slightly across and within tables.RELATED PUBLICATIONS

ABS publications


59
Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed on the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details products to be released in the week ahead. For a listing of ABS publications relating to crime and justice statistics, refer to the Related Information tab.

Non-ABS publications


60
Non-ABS sources of criminal court statistics which may be of interest include:

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