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In 2007-08, defendants charged were more likely to be male (86%) than female (12%). These proportions have remained relatively stable over time, with males accounting for around 87% of defendants since 2001-02.
The two most common offences that both males and females were charged with were acts intended to cause injury (23% and 22% respectively) and illicit drug offences (18% and 21% respectively). For males, this was followed by sexual assault (16%) and for females it was deception (17%). There was a similar pattern of offences for both sexes during 2006-07.
Those aged 25 to 34 years accounted for just under a third (31%) of defendants charged in the Higher Courts. This was followed by defendants aged under 25 years (30%), and those aged 35 to 44 years (22%). Defendants aged 45 years and over represented 17% of defendants.
Approximately one quarter of defendants aged under 25 years and 25 to 34 years were charged with acts intended to cause injury (27% and 25% respectively). While robbery and extortion accounted for 20% of defendants aged under 25 years, this offence type was less common for defendants over this age group. The largest proportion of defendants aged 45 years and over were charged with sexual assault (29%), followed by illicit drug offences (23%).
When comparing defendants by principal offence type, defendants aged under 25 years of age accounted for the largest proportions of the following offence types: robbery and extortion (53%); property damage (44%); unlawful entry with intent (42%); and acts intended to cause injury (35%). Of those charged with theft and illicit drug offences, the largest proportion of defendants were aged 25 to 34 years (both 34%). For sexual assault offences, just over a third (34%) of defendants with this principal offence type were aged 45 years and over.
Of the 2,506 defendants that had a trial outcome (acquitted or found guilty by the court), 45% were acquitted.
Two principal offences accounted for two-thirds of all defendants acquitted (1,138) in 2007-08: sexual assault (502 or 44%); and acts intended to cause injury (250 or 22%).
Defendants heard for sexual assault and homicide offences had the largest proportion of defendants acquitted (24% and 18% respectively).
Queensland had the smallest proportion of adjudicated defendants acquitted (5%) compared to the national average of 8%.
Defendants proven guilty
In 2007-08, the majority (92% or 13,203) of defendants heard in the Higher Courts were proven guilty. Of these defendants, a large proportion (81% or 11,652) pleaded guilty, rather than being found guilty at trial.
Almost all adjudicated defendants charged with unlawful entry with intent, illicit drug offences and weapons and explosives offences were proven guilty (all 98%).
Defendants charged with weapons and explosives offences (92%), unlawful entry with intent (90%), and illicit drug offences (90%) were more likely to have pleaded guilty than those charged with homicide (56%) and sexual assault (59%).