4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2003-04  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/02/2005   
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February 11, 2005
Embargoed 11:30am (AEST)

Half a million defendants finalised in 2003-04:ABS

There were more than half a million defendants finalised in both the Higher Criminal Courts and Magistrates' Criminal Courts in 2003-04, according to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The Magistrates' Courts data are included for the first time in 2003-04.

Of all defendants finalised, the ABS found most defendants (97%) were finalised in the Magistrates' Courts.

Defendants were more likely to be adjudicated in the Magistrates' Courts for 'road traffic and motor vehicle regulatory offences' (44% of those adjudicated) and 'public order offences' (9% of those adjudicated).

However, defendants were more likely to be adjudicated in the Higher Courts for offences of 'acts intended to cause injury' (21% of those adjudicated) and 'unlawful entry with intent' (15% of those adjudicated).

Defendants proven guilty were more likely to receive a custodial sentence in the Higher Courts than the Magistrates' Courts (78% and 9% of those proven guilty respectively).

Other results from the publication include:
    • Almost 90% of defendants (481,664) were finalised by adjudication (proven guilty or acquitted).
    • Most defendants (461,813 or 85%) were proven guilty (guilty plea or declared guilty).
    • Defendants adjudicated for 'illicit drug offences' were most likely to be proven guilty (99% of those adjudicated). Other high rates were 'dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons', 'theft and related offences', 'deception and related offences' and 'weapons and explosives offences' (all 98% of those adjudicated).
    • Nearly four in five (78%) defendants were men and half were men aged less than 35 years.

Further information is in Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0).

Media Note: Magistrates' Criminal Courts data are new and therefore comparisons with previous years are not available.