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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Charges against a defendant can be finalised via different methods (see Appendix 2). The main categories of finalisation are: adjudicated finalisations, where there is a guilty plea or the court has made a finding as to the guilt or otherwise of the defendant; transfer between court levels; withdrawal by the prosecution; and other methods such as the defendant being deceased or considered unfit to plead.
Following a low in 2006-07, the number of defendants finalised in the Higher Courts peaked in 2008-09. The number of defendants finalised has been decreasing since 2009-10.
Six states and territories had decreases in the numbers of defendants finalised in the Higher Courts in 2011-12: Queensland (14%), Tasmania (13%), Western Australia (11%), South Australia (10%), the Australian Capital Territory (6%) and Victoria (less than 1%). The remaining two states and territories had increases, the largest being the Northern Territory (44%) while New South Wales increased by 9% .
In 2011-12, 88% of defendants finalised were male and 12% were female. These ratios have remained stable over the time series commencing in 2005-06. However, the number of males and females has decreased over this time - from 14,313 to 13,661 for males and from 2,027 to 1,795 for females.
The proportion of males and females was similar across the states and territories. Western Australia (87%), Queensland (86%) and Tasmania (84%) had a smaller proportion of males than the national average while the Northern Territory (92%), New South Wales (91%), Victoria (90%) and South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (both 89%) had a larger proportion than the national average.
Over half of all defendants finalised in the Higher Courts were aged between 20 and 39 years old - 20 to 24 year olds accounted for 20% of defendants, 25 to 29 year olds accounted for 16%, 30 to 34 year olds accounted for 14% and 35 to 39 year olds accounted for 11%.
By offence, defendants finalised were highest for acts intended to cause injury (21% or 3,285 defendants), illicit drug offences (20% or 3,143 defendants) and sexual assault (19% or 2,879 defendants).
Of defendants adjudicated in the Higher Courts in 2011-12, more than half were finalised for one of three offences (Table 4):
Examining these broad offence categories in more detail, more than 45% of defendants had their charges adjudicated in the following three sub categories:
Sex, age and principal offence
Though the most common offences for males and females in the Higher Courts were similar, the distribution of defendants varied with sex and age.
Overall, acts intended to cause injury was the most common offence for men (21% of finalised defendants) and the second most common offence for women (23% of finalised defendants). The most common offence for female defendants was illicit drug offences (28% of all female defendants).
Robbery, extortion and related offences was the most common offence for males aged under 20 years (34%), acts intended to cause injury was the most common offence for males aged 20 to 24 years (26%) and 25 to 29 years (25%), while sexual assault was the most common offences for older males - 31% of 45 to 49 year olds, 34% of 50 to 54 year olds and 54% of those aged 55 years and over.
Acts intended to cause injury and robbery and extortion were the most common offences for women aged under 20 years (both 30% of this age group), acts intended to cause injury was the most common offence for female defendants aged 20 to 24 (24%) while illicit drug offences were the most common offences for female defendants in all other age categories.