4513.0 - Higher Criminal Courts, Australia, 1995  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/08/1997   
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August 28, 1997
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Statistical look at Australia's criminal courts

The Australian Bureau of Statistics today released statistics about defendants who had cases in the higher (Supreme and Intermediate) courts of Australia during the period 1 January to 31 December 1995.

The statistics measure workflow on the more serious matters heard by Australia's criminal courts and include figures on defendants who had new cases initiated in the courts, cases that were finalised and cases that were pending. There is also information on the elapsed time from initiation to finalisation for defendants with completed cases.

Data in the publication Australian Criminal Courts, 1995, show that:
  • During 1995 there were 17,295 defendants who had criminal cases finalised in the Supreme and Intermediate courts, representing a national rate of 126.2 defendants finalised per 100,000 persons aged 17 years and over in Australia during 1995.
  • Of the 17,295 defendants with criminal cases finalised during 1995, the majority (14,408 or 83 per cent) resulted in the defendants being proven guilty or proven not guilty. A further 333 defendants (2 per cent) had their cases transferred to another court level while the remaining 2,554 defendants finalised (15 per cent) involved the defendant absconding or their case being withdrawn.
  • Of the 14,408 defendants that were finalised as a result of the charges being adjudicated, 89 per cent had at least one charge with a proven outcome (guilty verdict or guilty plea) whereas 11 per cent were acquitted.
  • Where information was available about the process of determining whether or not the defendant was guilty, the data showed that three-quarters of these defendants (74 per cent) pleaded guilty, while one in every four (26 per cent) went through trial and the court decided whether or not the defendant was guilty.
  • The median duration from initiation to finalisation for defendants finalised during 1995 was longest in the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales at 29.0 weeks and 27.0 weeks respectively, and shortest in Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia at 12.1 weeks, 16.0 weeks, and 16.1 weeks respectively. (Queensland data was unavailable.)
  • In Tasmania, 90 per cent of defendants finalised during 1995 had their cases completed in less than 30 weeks, which was the fastest processing time for any State/Territory to finalise 90 per cent of their defendants. Victoria had the slowest processing time to finalise 90 per cent of defendants, taking almost 95 weeks. (Queensland data was unavailable.)
  • For defendants found guilty through a trial, median duration figures for the time taken from case commencement to the handing down of the guilty verdict showed that half of these cases took under a year, with the longest median duration (49.8 weeks) occurring in New South Wales. (Queensland and Western Australia data was unavailable.)
  • The median duration from the date of a guilty verdict being delivered to the date of sentencing, was less than a month for all States and Territories. (Queensland and Western Australia data was unavailable).

Australian Criminal Courts, 1995, (cat. no. 4513.0) is available from the ABS.

(Please note: the statistics do not cover cases relating to appeals and breaches of bonds. Initiation details for defendants are currently not available for Queensland and pending, initiated and duration data cannot be provided for this State.)