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CRIMINAL COURTS IN QUEENSLAND, 2007-08
SUMMARY CHARACTERISTICS OF DEFENDANTS, Queensland, 2007-08
(a) Defendants will be counted twice where they are transferred from one of the three court levels and then finalised within the same reference period.
(b) Also includes transfers to other courts. Non-adjudicated methods of finalisations include cases where a charge is withdrawn by the prosecution, where a defendant dies or is deemed unfit to plead.
In 2007-08, there were a total of 165,883 defendants finalised in Queensland's criminal courts. Across all court levels: 1,305 (0.8%) defendants were acquitted; 150,383 (91%) were proven guilty; and 9,820 (5.9%) had their charges withdrawn by the prosecution.
Of those defendants proven guilty, 12,633 (8.4%) were sentenced to a custodial order, and 137,750 (92%) were sentenced to a non-custodial order (includes community supervision or work orders, monetary orders, and other non-custodial orders).
Higher Courts in Queensland comprise the Supreme Courts and the District Courts. These courts try and sentence matters relating to indictable and serious criminal offences.
HIGHER COURTS: OUTCOMES, Queensland, 2001–02 to 2007–08
During 2007-08, Higher Courts in Queensland dealt with 6,070 defendants, of which 251 were acquitted and 1,108 had charges withdrawn. Males constituted 85% of defendants finalised and females 15%.
There were 4,698 defendants proven guilty (by finding of the court or guilty plea), 62% of whom were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution.
In 2007-08, 1,108 (18%) defendants finalised in the Higher Courts had charges withdrawn by the prosecution. Of these defendants whose charges were withdrawn by the prosecution, 41% received this finalisation at over 52 weeks.
The principal offence with the largest number of defendants with charges withdrawn by the prosecution in 2007-08 was acts intended to cause injury (337), followed by sexual assault and related offences (272). Principal offences with the largest proportions of defendants with charges withdrawn were: homicide and related offences (36%); abduction and related offences (32%), and sexual assault and related offences (29%). Withdrawal of charges is a non-adjudicated method of finalisation and allows the prosecution to charge the defendant on the same incident at a later time.
HIGHER COURTS: PROPORTION OF CHARGES WITHDRAWN, SELECTED PRINCIPAL OFFENCES, Queensland, 2007-08
There were 4,949 defendants adjudicated in Queensland Higher Courts in 2007-08, the most common charges were: acts intended to cause injury (1,418); illicit drug offences (829); and sexual assault and related offences (660).
In 2007-08, the proportion of defendants found guilty by the court (5.6%) and acquitted by the court (5.1%) were comparable. The majority (89%) of defendants adjudicated in the Higher Courts pleaded guilty.
HIGHER COURTS: PROPORTION OF DEFENDANTS PLEADING GUILTY BY DURATION, Queensland, 2007-08
Defendants Proven Guilty
During 2007-08, of those defendants found guilty: 13% received fully suspended sentences; 4% received custody in the community orders; and 62% were given prison sentences. Non-custodial orders (fines, community supervision/work orders, restitution, etc.) were given to 21% of defendants proven guilty.
Magistrates' Courts operate in all states and territories and try and sentence criminal matters relating to summary offences (such as traffic offences and disorderly behaviour) and hear indictable offences summarily.
Magistrates' Courts data presented here exclude matters 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 majority of all criminal cases are finalised in Magistrates' Courts. In Queensland in 2007-08, there were 152,368 defendants finalised, including 666 organisations. A total of 998 defendants were acquitted, 139,169 proven guilty and 8,181 had charges withdrawn by the prosecution, while 4,017 were transferred to other courts. Nearly two thirds of defendants had cases (100,279 or 66%) finalised in under 6 weeks with 82% finalised in under 13 weeks.
The largest proportion of the 140,167 defendants adjudicated in Magistrates' Courts were charged with road traffic and motor regulatory offences (35%) followed by public order offences (18%). Males in the younger age groups were more than four times as likely than females to appear before the court. For all age groups, 78% were males and 21% females (0.6% were organisations).
MAGISTRATES' COURTS DEFENDANTS ADJUDICATED, by sex and age, Queensland, 2007-08
Defendants Proven Guilty
During 2007-08, 139,169 defendants were proven guilty and 81% were given monetary orders. Community supervision/work orders were given to 5.6% of defendants proven guilty while another 5.6% received good behaviour bonds. Prison sentences were given to 3.6% and 2.3% received fully suspended custodial orders.
The majority of defendants adjudicated (99%) were proven guilty. The sexual assault and related offences group was notably different from other principal offence categories in that 85% of defendants adjudicated were proven guilty.
The principal offence groups with the highest proportion of custodial sentences were unlawful entry with intent (36%), sexual assault and related offences (32%) and acts intended to cause injury (25%).
DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Type of sentence by selected principal offence , Queensland, 2007-08
In all states and territories, children under 10 years of age cannot be charged with a criminal offence. In Queensland, defendants aged 17 years at the time of the offence are considered adults and do not appear in Children's Courts. In all other states and territories the age at which an offender is considered adult is 18 years.
There were 7,448 defendants finalised in 2007-08. The most common charges laid were theft and related offences (1,424), followed by unlawful entry with intent (1,378) and public order offences (1,102).
Charges were withdrawn for 531 defendants, while 56 were acquitted and 342 were transferred to other courts.
Of the 6,572 defendants adjudicated in Children's Courts in 2007-08, the largest proportion of defendants were charged with theft and related offences (20%), followed by unlawful entry with intent (19%) and public order offences (16%).
CHILDREN'S COURTS DEFENDANTS ADJUDICATED, Selected principal offence, Queensland, 2006-07 and 2007-08
Of the 6,516 defendants proven guilty in Children's Courts in 2007-08, 5.7% received a custodial order, 44% were given community supervision/work orders, 14% received good behaviour bonds and 5.6% received a monetary order and 30% received other non-custodial orders (licence disqualification/suspension/amendment, forfeiture of property and nominal penalties).
Further information, including treatment of defendants charged with multiple offences or receiving multiple sentences, the Method of Finalisation Classification, the Australian Standard Offence Classification (1997), the National Offence Index and the Sentence Type Classification and comparable information for other states and territories is available in Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0).
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