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4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2008-09 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/03/2010   
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Contents >> Higher Courts >> 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.

The number of defendants finalised in the Higher Courts was the lowest in 2006-07 (16,287 defendants). In the last two years this decline had been reversed with the number of defendants finalised in 2007-08 increasing by 3% to 16,735 and in 2008-09 to 17,207 (3%).

DEFENDANTS FINALISED, 2001-2002 to 2008-2009
Graph: DEFENDANTS FINALISED, 2001–2002 to 2008–2009

The majority of states and territories had increases in the numbers of defendants finalised in the Higher Courts in 2008-09. Tasmania (39%), the Northern Territory (29%), the Australian Capital Territory (15%) and South Australia (12%) had the largest increases, while Victoria and Queensland were the only states where the number of defendants finalised decreased (down 10% and 4% respectively).

Charges withdrawn by the prosecution

Of the 2,347 defendants whose charges were withdrawn by the prosecution in 2008-09, the greatest number of these defendants had charges for sexual assault (670) and acts intended to cause injury (603).

Principal offences with the largest proportion of defendants finalised by charges withdrawn were sexual assault (22%) and abduction, harassment and other offences against the person (21%). In contrast, 7% of defendants facing charges of illicit drug offences, and 4% of defendants facing charges of miscellaneous offences, had their charges withdrawn.

Tasmania (28%) and South Australia (26%) had larger proportions of defendants finalised by charges withdrawn than the national average of 14%. New South Wales and Victoria had the smallest proportion of defendants finalised by this method (both 5%).

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