4513.0 - Traffic offences make-up half of Magistrates' Courts workload, 2004-05  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2006   
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January 25, 2006
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

Traffic offences make-up half of Magistrates' Courts workload

Almost half the cases before the Magistrates' Courts in 2004-05 were for traffic offences, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

There were close to half a million people (493,297) who fronted the Magistrates' Criminal Courts with almost a quarter of a million people (224,676) facing traffic offences.

Of those appearing before the Magistrates' Courts, people aged in their mid-forties or older were more likely (53%) to be facing road traffic offences than any other offence. In comparison, 40% of people aged 24 years and under who appeared in these courts faced these offences.

One in five (20%) people facing the Higher Courts were there for assault charges while 16% of people were facing illicit drug offences.

The types of offences heard for men and women differed in the Higher Courts, with 14% of men facing sexual assault and related offences compared to 2% of women. Almost one in five (18%) women faced deception and related offences compared to 6% of men.

More than nine out of ten people (96%) facing charges in the courts in 2004-05 were found guilty.

People proven guilty in the Higher Courts were more likely to receive a jail term than those in the Magistrates' Courts (57% and 5% respectively).

Other results from the publication include:

  • Illicit drug offences were most likely to be proven guilty (97% in the Higher Courts and 99% in the Magistrates' Courts).
  • In the Higher Courts 'homicide and related offences' had an acquittal rate of 18%, and the acquittal rate for 'sexual assault and related offences' was 24%.
  • In the Higher Courts, men were more likely than women to receive a jail term (59% of men, 41% of women).

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