4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2016-17 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/02/2018   
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KEY FINDINGS

Australian state and territory criminal courts finalised 607,375 defendants in 2016–17, an increase of less than one per cent (or 4,616 defendants) on the previous year. (Table 1)

Graph Image for DEFENDANTS FINALISED AND PROVEN GUILTY, 2008-09 to 2016-17

Source(s): Criminal Courts, Australia


The rate of defendants finalised nationally was 2,834 per 100,000 persons aged 10 years and over. (Table 47)

Nine out of ten (89% or 538,410) defendants finalised had their matter(s) adjudicated. Most (98% or 527,013) of these defendants were proven guilty. (Table 1)

Most defendants finalised in the Magistrates’ Courts

In 2016–17, 92% of defendants (561,781) were finalised in the Magistrates’ Courts. The number of defendants finalised in the Magistrates’ Courts increased by less than one per cent (1,937) from 2015–16. (Table 1)

The number of defendants finalised in the Higher Courts increased by 10% (1,651) to reach a nine year high (17,622). (Table 1)

In 2016–17, 27,972 defendants were finalised in the Children’s Courts, an increase of 4% (1,028) on the previous year. This contrasts with a seven year decline in the number of defendants finalised in this court level between 2008–09 and 2015–16. (Table 1)

Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences the most common principal offence

Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences were the most common principal offence (36% or 217,622) amongst all defendants finalised nationally during 2016–17. The number of defendants finalised for these offences decreased by 3% (6,986) from 2015–16. (Table 1)

Between 2015–16 and 2016–17, defendants finalised for:
  • Offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations increased by 6% (2,791), largely due to a 14% (2,863) increase in Breach of violence and non-violence restraining orders;
  • Sexual assault and related offences increased by 9% (788); and
  • Acts intended to cause injury increased by 7% (4,883). (Table 1)

Breach of violence and non-violence restraining orders reach nine year high

There were 47,379 defendants finalised for Offences against justice, government security and government operations in 2016–17. This included 23,181 (49%) defendants with a principal offence of Breach of violence and non-violence restraining orders, the highest number recorded since the series began in 2008–09. (Table 1)

Almost all (99% or 22,908) defendants with a principal offence of Breach of violence and non-violence restraining orders had their matter(s) finalised in the Magistrates’ Courts. (Table 1)

Sexual assault and related offences increase for fourth consecutive year

The number of defendants finalised for Sexual assault and related offences increased for the fourth consecutive year to 9,433 defendants in 2016–17. Over a third (35% or 3,342) of these defendants were finalised in the Higher Courts, most of whom (98% or 3,274) were male. (Tables 1 and 4)

Assault offences increase to reach highest levels in nine years

There were 76,006 defendants finalised for Acts intended to cause injury in 2016–17, the majority of these defendants (92% or 69,902) had a principal offence of Assault. Defendants finalised for Assault increased by 7% (4,341) nationally in 2016–17, to reach their highest levels since the series began in 2008–09. (Table 1)

Of the 69,902 defendants finalised for Assault:
  • Most (88% or 61,233) were finalised in the Magistrates’ Courts.
  • Three-quarters (75% or 52,088) were proven guilty. (Tables 1 and 7)

EXPERIMENTAL FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (FDV) STATISTICS

In 2016–17, the proportion of defendants finalised for selected offences1 in the Magistrates’ Courts who were determined to have at least one Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) offence accounted for:
  • 59% (23,965) in New South Wales;
  • 53% (14,934) in Victoria;
  • 52% (13,415) in Queensland;
  • 32% (4,933) in Western Australia;
  • 46% (1,379) in Tasmania;
  • 68% (3,236) in the Northern Territory; and
  • 60% (669) in the Australian Capital Territory. (FDV Table 8)

The most common principal FDV offence for defendants finalised in the Magistrates’ Courts was Assault across all selected states and territories, with the exception of Queensland, where Breach of violence orders were more common. (FDV Table 1)

Footnotes

1 Selected offences include: 01 Homicide and related offences, 02 Acts intended to cause injury, 03 Sexual assault and related offences, 049 Other dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons, 05 Abduction, harassment and other offences against the person, 121 Property damage and 1531 Breach of violence order.