This chapter presents information about defendants finalised in the criminal jurisdiction of the Magistrates' Courts in 2007-08.
Magistrates' Courts (known as Local Courts in New South Wales) are in operation in all states and territories of Australia. The court tries and sentences criminal matters relating to summary offences (such as traffic offences and disorderly behaviour) and hears indictable offences summarily.
Magistrates' 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 40-45.
- The number of defendants finalised in the Magistrates' Courts increased by 6%, from 583,543 in 2006-07 to 619,542 in 2007-08.
- Most defendants (44% or 270,409) were finalised for road traffic and motor vehicle regulatory offences, followed by public order offences (10% or 64,400).
- The proportion of male to female defendants has remained relatively stable since 2003-04 with males accounting for approximately 77% (476,146) of the total.
- During 2007-08, 565,833 or 91% of defendants finalised in the Magistrates' Courts in Australia had their cases adjudicated. Other methods of finalisation included: charges withdrawn by the prosecution (7% or 40,459); transfers to other courts (2% or 12,789); and other methods, such as defendants unfit to plead, defendants deceased, transfers to non-court agencies, etc., (less than 1% or 444).
- The majority (96% or 541,500) of defendants whose cases were adjudicated in the Magistrates' Courts in 2007-08 were proven guilty.
- Approximately 9 in 10 convicted defendants were sentenced to non-custodial orders.