This publication presents statistics about defendants dealt with by the criminal jurisdiction of the Higher (Supreme and Intermediate), Magistrates' and Children's Courts of Australia, for the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013. Defendants include persons charged with criminal offences for each court level as well as organisations charged with criminal offences for the Higher and Magistrates' Courts. The statistics are based on data extracted from administrative records held by state and territory agencies responsible for courts administration. The statistics have been compiled according to national standards and classifications (see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 19–26).
Courts data presented in this publication exclude cases such as bail reviews and applications to amend sentences or penalties which do not require the adjudication of charges. Also excluded are breaches of community based orders, appeal cases, tribunal matters and defendants for whom a bench warrant is issued but not executed.
Policing and other law enforcement and regulatory agencies are responsible for the prevention, detection and investigation of crimes. When alleged offenders are detected by police, they can be proceeded against either through the use of a non-court action (such as a caution, fine or diversionary conference) or by charges being laid before a criminal court. When an offender appears before a court, they are referred to as the defendant. Their case may be comprised of one or more charges, which the court treats as one unit of work. With the assistance of the prosecution and the defence, the court determines whether the defendant is guilty. In some cases, some or all charges may be withdrawn by the prosecution or not proceed to trial. In cases where the defendant is proven guilty, the court may record a conviction and impose a penalty.