4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2011-12 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/02/2013   
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Contents >> Higher Courts >> Introduction - Higher Courts


This chapter presents information about defendants finalised in the criminal jurisdiction of the Higher Courts in 2011-12. The Higher Courts refers to the grouping of the Intermediate (the District or County Court) and Supreme Court levels.

Higher Courts operate in all states and territories of Australia. These courts try and sentence matters relating to indictable and serious criminal offences.

Higher Courts data presented here exclude cases such as bail reviews and applications to amend sentences or penalties which do not require the adjudication of charges. Also excluded are breach of bail or parole cases, appeal cases, tribunal matters and defendants for whom a bench warrant is issued but not executed.

The offence categories referred to relate to the principal offence - that is, the most serious offence type for the defendant's case. For more information about principal offence see Explanatory Notes paragraphs 40-44.

National data for the Higher Courts are available from 1995.

The data in this chapter are drawn from the Higher Courts data cube. Indigenous Status data are drawn from the Criminal Courts, Indigenous Status data cube.


  • The number of defendants finalised in the Higher Courts decreased by 5%, from 16,298 in 2010-11 to 15,479 in 2011-12. This is the lowest number of finalisations since 2005-06.
  • Of those defendants finalised in the Higher Courts, 86% (13,324) were finalised by an adjudicated outcome (guilty plea or a court determination of their guilt or innocence). Withdrawal of charges by the prosecution accounted for 13% of finalisations.
  • Defendants finalised for charges of sexual assault had the lowest proportion (62%) proven guilty of all principal offences. This offence also had the largest proportion of charges acquitted (18%).
  • Almost 9 in 10 defendants proven guilty were sentenced to custodial orders.
  • Indigenous Status data are available for three states and territories: New South Wales (for the first time), Queensland and the Northern Territory.

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