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In 2008-09, 87% of defendants charged were male and 13% were female. These proportions have remained relatively stable over time, with males accounting for around 87% of defendants since 2001-02.
The two most common offences that both males and females were charged with were acts intended to cause injury (both 22%) and illicit drug offences (19% and 26% respectively). For males, this was followed by sexual assault (18%) and for females it was fraud and deception (14%).
Those aged 25 to 34 years accounted for just under a third (31%) of defendants charged in the Higher Courts. This was followed by defendants aged under 25 years (29%), and those aged 35 to 44 years (22%). Defendants aged 45 years and over represented 17% of defendants. These proportions were relatively unchanged from 2007-08.
Approximately one-quarter of defendants aged under 25 years and 25 to 34 years were charged with acts intended to cause injury (26% and 24% respectively). While robbery and extortion accounted for 18% of defendants aged under 25 years, this offence type was less common for defendants over this age group. The largest proportion of defendants aged 45 years and over were charged with sexual assault (33%), followed by illicit drug offences (24%).
When comparing defendants by principal offence type, defendants aged under 25 years of age accounted for the largest proportions of the following offence types: robbery and extortion (51%); unlawful entry with intent (42%); property damage (41%); and acts intended to cause injury (34%). Of those charged with dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons and illicit drug offences, the largest proportion of defendants were aged 25 to 34 years (36% and 33% respectively). For sexual assault offences, just over a third (35%) of defendants with this principal offence type were aged 45 years and over.
Of the 2,547 defendants that had a trial outcome (acquitted or found guilty by the court), 45% (1,142) were acquitted; no change from the proportion in 2007-08.
Two principal offences accounted for two-thirds of all defendants acquitted in 2008-09: sexual assault (466 or 41%); and acts intended to cause injury (290 or 25%).
Defendants heard for sexual assault and homicide offences had the largest proportion of defendants acquitted (19% and 18% respectively).
Queensland had the lowest proportion of adjudicated defendants acquitted (5%) compared to the national average of 8%.
Defendants proven guilty
In 2008-09, the majority (92% or 13,526) of defendants heard in the Higher Courts were proven guilty. Of these defendants, a large proportion (81% or 11,822) pleaded guilty, while 10% had a guilty finding at trial.
The proportion of defendants pleading guilty varies by offence type ranging from 54% for homicide to 90% for unlawful entry with intent.