The number of defendants finalised in South Australia decreased by 8% (3,768) from 47,350 defendants in 2013–14 to 43,582 defendants in 2014–15.
South Australia was one of the few states, along with Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, to record a decrease in finalised defendants. This compared with a national increase of 2%. (Tables 2 and 26)
Decreases in the number of defendants in South Australia may be partially due to the transfer of responsibility of the collection and enforcement of fines from the Courts Administration Authority to the new Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit managed by the South Australian Attorney-General's Department. For more information refer to Explanatory Notes paragraph 87.
In 2014–15, of all defendants finalised in South Australia:
- 79% (34,544) were male;
- 20% (8,860) were female; and
- Less than 1% (175) were organisations. (Table 2)
Of the 43,582 defendants finalised in South Australia:
- 90% (39,398) were finalised in the Magistrates' Courts;
- 6% (2,472) were finalised in the Children's Courts; and
- 4% (1,704) were finalised in the Higher Courts.
Compared with the previous year, the number of defendants finalised in the:
- Magistrates' Courts decreased by 8% (3,439);
- Children's Courts decreased by 11% (304); and
- Higher Courts decreased by 2% (37). (Table 26)
South Australia, along with the Australian Capital Territory, were the only two states and territories where the number of finalised defendants decreased at every court level in 2014–15.
In 2014–15, the median age of finalised defendants in South Australia was 33 years, the oldest median age of any state or territory.
Young defendants (aged 10–19 years) comprised 10% (4,129) of finalised defendants. (Table 2)
In 2014–15, defendants who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander represented 18% (4,813) of all finalised defendants in South Australia (excluding traffic offences and organisations).
The most common principal offence amongst both defendants who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous defendants was Acts intended to cause injury (30% or 1,433 and 23% or 4,662 respectively).
In 2014–15, 16% (532) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants proven guilty received a principal sentence of custody in a correctional institution, compared with 9% (1,076) of non-Indigenous defendants. (Table 11)
In 2014–15, the three most common principal offences for all finalised defendants were:
- Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences (28% or 12,092);
- Acts intended to cause injury (15% or 6,373); and
- Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons (9% or 3,963). (Table 2)
The greatest decrease in the number of finalised defendants in South Australia in 2014–15 occurred amongst those with a principal offence of:
- Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences (17% or 2,501); followed by
- Public order offences (21% or 855).
Defendants with a principal offence of Acts intended to cause injury and Offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations experienced the largest increases in 2014–15 (up 8% or 465 and 8% or 199 respectively). (Table 26)
METHOD OF FINALISATION
Of the 43,582 defendants finalised in South Australia in 2014–15:
DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY
- 72% (31,550) were proven guilty;
- 21% (8,945) had their charges withdrawn by the prosecution;
- 6% (2,497) were transferred to other court levels, the highest proportion of any state or territory; and
- 1% (272) were acquitted. (Table 2)
Of the 31,550 defendants proven guilty in 2014–15:
- 89% (27,959) pleaded guilty;
- 10% (3,231) were found guilty ex-parte; and
- 1% (358) were found guilty by the court. (Table 26)
Of those defendants proven guilty:
- More than four in five (83% or 26,107) were sentenced to a non-custodial order; and
- Less than one in five (17% or 5,443) were sentenced to a custodial order.
There were 2,136 defendants sentenced to custody in a correctional institution in South Australia in 2014–15. This represented 7% of all finalised defendants proven guilty. (Table 7)
The most common principal offences amongst these defendants, excluding life and indeterminate imprisonment, were:
- Acts intended to cause injury (26% or 558), with a median sentence length of 6 months;
- Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences (13% or 267), with a median sentence length of 1 month; and
- Theft and related offences (11% or 229), with a median sentence length of 3 months. (Table 47d)
The median sentence length or fine amount for those who were found guilty and sentenced to:
- Custody in a correctional institution was 6 months; (Table 47d)
- A community service order was 60 hours; and (Table 48)
- A fine was $860, the highest of any state or territory. (Table 49)