This chapter presents information about defendants finalised in the criminal jurisdiction of the Magistrates' Courts in 2009-10.
Magistrates' Courts (known as Local Courts in New South Wales) are in operation in all states and territories of Australia. These courts try and sentence criminal matters relating to summary offences (such as traffic offences and disorderly behaviour) and also may hear 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 40-44).
National data for the Magistrates' Courts are available from 2003-04.
- The number of defendants finalised in the Magistrates' Courts decreased by 5%, from 635,926 in 2008-09 to 603,604 in 2009-10. This is the first annual decrease since the Magistrates' Courts collection commenced in 2003-04.
- Most defendants (42% or 254,633) were finalised for traffic and vehicle regulatory offences, followed by public order offences (11% or 64,179).
- The proportion of male to female defendants has remained relatively stable since 2003-04 with males accounting for 77% (464,935) of the total.
- During 2009-10, 545,658 or 90% 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 Other methods of finalisation included: charges withdrawn by the prosecution (7% or 43,975) and transfers to other courts (2% or 13,147)
- The majority (96% or 525,275) of defendants whose cases were adjudicated in the Magistrates' Courts in 2009-10 were proven guilty.
- Approximately 9 in 10 convicted defendants were sentenced to non-custodial orders.