4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2009-10 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/01/2011   
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27 January 2011
Embargoed: 11.30 am (AEDT)

Australia's Courts see a drop in finalised defendants

The number of defendants finalised in Australia's Criminal Courts decreased by 5% in 2009-10, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Defendants finalised in the Higher Courts decreased by 2%, in the Magistrates' Courts by 5%, and in the Children's Courts by 2%; the first time decreases have been recorded in all court levels since 2006-07. Over this same period, the length of time taken to finalise defendants remained stable, with approximately 70% of defendants finalised in under 13 weeks.

Decreases were recorded in all states and territories, except Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. The largest decreases were in Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia (29%, 9% and 8% respectively).

The majority of defendants were finalised in the Magistrates' Courts (603,604), followed by the Children's Courts (41,275) and the Higher Courts (16,834).

Traffic offences were the most prevalent offence type for defendants in the Magistrates' Courts (42%), followed by public order offences (11%) and acts intended to cause injury (10%). In the Children's Courts the most prevalent offence types were theft (20%) and acts intended to cause injury (19%).

The top three offence types accounted for in the Higher Courts level were: acts intended to cause injury (22%), illicit drugs (19%) and sexual assault (17%).

The figures showed that nine in ten defendants convicted of an offence in the Higher Courts were sentenced to a custodial order.

Further information is in Criminal Courts, Australia (cat. no. 4513.0), available for free download.

Media Note:
  • Offences relate to the most serious offence type with which the defendant was charged.
  • When reporting on ABS data, please attribute either the Australian Bureau of Statistics or ABS as the source.