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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SOUTH AUSTRALIA

DEFENDANTS FINALISED

During 2017–18, there were 35,851 defendants finalised in South Australia’s criminal courts, representing a 12% decrease on the previous year. This was the lowest number of defendants finalised in the state since 2010–11.

Most of the decrease during 2017–18 occurred in the Magistrates’ Courts (down 12%, 4,494), and was partly due to some low level offences no longer being dealt with by the courts.1

The median age of defendants was 34 years. Around four in five (79%) defendants were male. (Tables 2 and 28)

The rate of defendants finalised was 2,349 per 100,000 persons (aged 10 years and over). (Table 52)

DEFENDANTS FINALISED, South Australia, 2010–11 to 2017–18
DEFENDANTS FINALISED, South Australia, 2010–11 to 2017–18

Australian Bureau of Statistics
Commonwealth of Australia 2019.



COURT LEVEL

During 2017–18, the majority (90%, 32,243) of defendants were finalised in the Magistrates' Courts.

From the previous year, the number of defendants finalised in each court level decreased by:

  • 6% (104) in the Higher Courts
  • 12% (4,494) in the Magistrates’ Courts
  • 12% (268) in the Children’s Courts. (Table 28)


PRINCIPAL OFFENCE

During 2017–18, the most common principal offences were:
  • Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences (28%, 9,955 defendants) which decreased by 14% (1,669) from 2016–17
  • Acts intended to cause injury (17%, 5,924 defendants) which decreased by 8% (513) over the same period.

During 2017–18, decreases occurred across all offence types, with the exception of Sexual assault and related offences which increased marginally (up 3%, 35) to 1,093 defendants. (Table 28)


METHOD OF FINALISATION

The majority (71%) of defendants had their matter(s) adjudicated, most of whom (25,335) were proven guilty.

Just over one-fifth (22%, 7,943) of all defendants finalised in South Australia had their matter(s) withdrawn by the prosecution, which has been consistently higher than the national average (around 8%) over the time series. (Tables 1 and 28)


PRINCIPAL SENTENCE AND SENTENCE LENGTH

Of the 25,335 defendants proven guilty during 2017–18:
  • Most (78%, 19,759) received a non-custodial order, of which the most common were monetary orders (64%, 12,639). The majority of these were fines issued for Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences (56%, 7,036).
  • 22% (5,577) were sentenced to a custodial order, of which 42% (2,324) were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution, with a median sentence length2 of 5 months. (Tables 8, 58d and 60)


INDIGENOUS STATUS

During 2017–18, nearly one-fifth of defendants finalised in South Australia (19%, 4,635) identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander3, a decrease of 7% (375) on the previous year. (Table 12)

The most common principal offence for both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous defendants was Acts intended to cause injury (32% or 1,482 and 24% or 4,247, respectively).

Approximately one in five (18%, 564) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defendants who were proven guilty were sentenced to custody in a correctional institution. (Table 13)

Footnotes

1 See Explanatory Notes 93 and 95.
2 Excluding life and indeterminate imprisonment (see Explanatory Note 48).
3 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.