4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2017-18 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/02/2019   
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QUEENSLAND

DEFENDANTS FINALISED

During 2017–18, the number of defendants finalised in Queensland’s criminal courts decreased by 8% (13,182) to 155,317 defendants. This equated to a rate of 3,592 defendants per 100,000 persons (aged 10 years and over).

Much of the decrease in the number of defendants finalised in Queensland is attributable to ‘low level’ offences (e.g. traffic or public order offences) no longer being handled in the court system.1

Defendants finalised in Queensland accounted for just over a quarter (26%) of all defendants finalised nationally, the second highest contributor following New South Wales. (Tables 2, 24 and 51)

The median age of defendants was 31 years. Three-quarters (75%) of all defendants were male. (Table 2)

DEFENDANTS FINALISED, Queensland, 2010–11 to 2017–18
DEFENDANTS FINALISED, Queensland, 2010–11 to 2017–18

Australian Bureau of Statistics
Commonwealth of Australia 2019.



COURT LEVEL

During 2017–18, the majority (90%, 139,627) of defendants were finalised in the Magistrates' Courts.

The number of defendants finalised in the Magistrates' Courts decreased by 10% (15,815) from 2016–17. In contrast, there were increases in both the Higher Courts (18%, 1,012) and Children's Courts (22%, 1,623) which can be largely attributed to the inclusion of additional data on transfers for 2017–18.2 (Table 24)


PRINCIPAL OFFENCE

During 2017–18, nearly two-thirds of all defendants had one of the following principal offences – all of which decreased from 2016–17:

  • Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences (27%, 41,472) – down 21%
  • Illicit drug offences (15%, 23,586) – down 2%
  • Offences against justice (11%, 17,849) – down 7%
  • Theft (11%, 16,910) – down 3%.

Contrasting the overall decrease in defendants finalised in Queensland, Acts intended to cause injury increased by 19% (1,967) to 12,325 defendants, and Robbery/extortion increased by 32% (396) to 1,639 defendants, reaching their highest levels since 2010–11. However, both these increases in the 2017–18 data can largely be attributed to the inclusion of additional data for defendants transferred that were not previously supplied.2 (Table 24)


METHOD OF FINALISATION

The majority of defendants (87%, 134,934) were adjudicated, of which nearly all (133,496) were proven guilty. Of those proven guilty, 88% had entered a guilty plea.

During 2017–18 there were nearly twice as many defendants in Queensland whose matter(s) was transferred to another court level for finalisation (up from 4,534 to 8,743). This resulted from the inclusion of additional transfer types in the data for the first time.2 (Table 24)


PRINCIPAL SENTENCE AND SENTENCE LENGTH

Of the 133,496 defendants proven guilty during 2017–18:
  • 86% (114,643) received a non-custodial order, the most common being a fine (83,780), with a median amount of $400
  • 14% (18,852) received a custodial order, of which 12,938 (69%) were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution, with a median sentence length3 of 9 months. (Tables 8, 58d and 60)


INDIGENOUS STATUS

During 2017–18, nearly a quarter of all defendants finalised in Queensland (23%, 24,595) identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander4, an increase of one per cent (271) on the previous year. (Table 12)

The most common principal offence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants was Offences against justice offences (18%, 4,347), while for non-Indigenous defendants it was Illicit drug offences (26%, 20,436).

Approximately one in five (18%, 3,635) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants who were proven guilty were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution. (Table 13)

Footnotes
1 See Explanatory Note 91.
2 See Explanatory Notes 89 and 90.
3 Excluding life and indeterminate imprisonment (see Explanatory Note 48).
4 Excludes defendants with a principal offence of Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences (ANZSOC Division 14) or Dangerous or negligent operation of a vehicle (ANZSOC Subdivision 041). See Explanatory Note 56.