When using NSW Criminal Court data it is important to know what specific words and phrases mean and what the counting unit is. Below are definitions and explanations of the criminal court terms used in BOCSAR's
NSW Adult Criminal Sentencing Tool and publications. For further information, please
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Whether a defendant has ever identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. The status is determined by self-identification. This data is sourced from the latest version of BOCSAR's Reoffending Database (ROD) and applied to all years. ROD contains "Aboriginality ever recorded" which is set to 'Aboriginal' for any person who had identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in their contact with Police in relation to any charges finalised since 1994. Note that separate figures are not available for Aboriginal defendants and Torres Strait Islander defendants.
A defendant's age is measured at the date of finalisation. Juveniles are aged 10 to 17 years at the time of finalisation; adults are aged 18 years and over at the time of finalisation.
AVOs are legal orders which aim to protect individuals from violence, threats and harassment. There are two types of AVOs: domestic and personal AVOs (ADVOs and APVOs respectively). ADVOs are made by the court to protect individuals from violence, threats and harassment from a spouse, de facto partner, ex-partner, family member, carer or person living in the same household. APVOs are orders made by the court to protect individuals from violence, threats and harassment from anyone who they are not in a domestic or family relationship with. BOCSAR's NSW Criminal Court report only counts final orders issued by the courts, not interim or provisional orders. AVO data are sourced from the NSW Police Computerised Operational Policing System (COPS).
A person who has been charged with an offence might be placed on bail conditions by the police or the Court. Not everyone charged is placed on bail conditions. The decision whether to place people on bail involves an assessment about risk that the person will:
A person may be released by police without bail, or have their bail 'dispensed with' by the Court. This means a decision has been made that the person does not need to be subject to any bail conditions in order to manage these risks. If a person is granted bail they have to attend court on a certain date. They might also have to comply with other conditions such as living at a certain address or reporting to the police. These conditions are imposed as a means of managing risk to an acceptable level. If a person is bail refused it means that the police or Court has determined that there is unacceptable risk in the person being in the community (or, put another way, that there are no conditions which could be put in place to mitigate that risk). They are held in custody (on 'remand') as their matter goes through the court process
If a person is 'granted bail', they are released into the community on the condition that they return to court on a certain date, alongside certain other conditions (for example, reporting to police intermittently).
Refers to the bail status of the defendant at their final court appearance. Those remanded in custody are separated into 'bail refused', 'in custody for a prior offence' or 'Warrant executed – Police custody'. Corrective Services NSW and Juvenile Justice NSW custody data have been merged with court data to identify those persons who were 'bail refused', 'in custody for a prior offence' or 'Warrant executed – Police custody'. Those not in these groups were 'on bail' or 'bail dispensed with'.
In 2016 the bail category of 'Warrant executed – Police custody' was implemented. These are persons in Police custody prior to finalisation after having been arrested on a warrant. Generally these persons are in police custody for less than 24 hours before their court matter is finalised. Previously these persons were included in the 'Bail refused' category. This change affected Local and Children's Court data only as any instance of an arrest warrant being executed in the District or Supreme courts is followed by a bail determination prior to the finalising appearance. This change has been made to BOCSAR's criminal court data back to 2010. Prior to 2010, the 'Bail refused' data includes both persons refused bail by the court and persons in Police custody prior to finalisation after having been arrested on a warrant. The 'Bail refused' data in these tables is not directly comparable with 'Bail refused' data released in previous years.
If an accused person contravenes with the requirements of the bail acknowledgement, their bail could be revoked. The failure to comply with the bail conditions imposed by the court is referred to as a 'breach of bail'. It is important to note that breach of bail is not of itself a criminal offence (unless the breach of bail condition otherwise constitutes a new criminal offence). The bail tool captures bail breaches established in any NSW court, including the Local, Children's, District or Supreme Courts.
A charge refers to an instance of a particular type of offence being charged against a defendant. A finalised charge is one which has been fully determined by the court and for which no further court proceedings are required.
An outcome of criminal proceedings in which a court accepts that a charge is proven through a guilty plea entered by a defendant, found guilty by the court, and Higher Court outcomes where the court finds the act proven but the defendant not criminally responsible due to mental health or cognitive impairment. Proven charges also includes proven outcomes where no conviction is recorded.
A determination by the court that a defendant is not guilty of the charge (or charges) on the grounds that the charge has not been proven. This includes: (a) dismissal of charge(s) by a court on the grounds that the defendant is found not guilty, (b) dismissal by the lower courts by reason of mental health or cognitive impairment at the time the defendant committed the offence.
These are specific offences relating to offences against children under 16 years of age. Sexual offences against children is not a category within ANZSOC. These offences are also counted in the appropriate ANZSOC categories - sexual assault and non-assaultive sexual offence.
Cases normally appear before the Higher Courts following a committal process in the Local or Children's Courts. The committal process involves the prosecution certifying the charge against the accused, and a mandatory case conferencing between prosecution and defence. If the accused pleads guilty during the committal process, they may be committed for sentencing to a Higher Court. Alternatively, if the accused pleads not guilty, or reserves their defence, he or she is committed for trial. Cases which commence by ex officio indictment are included. Cases which do not proceed beyond committal are not included in BOCSAR's NSW Criminal Court report.
Commonwealth charges finalised in NSW criminal courts are included in BOCSAR reporting.
Where companies have been excluded, it is noted below the data table along with the number of excluded companies for each year.
Refers to the time taken to dispose of a group of charges against a person by defended and undefended hearings, and by bail status at final appearance. Court delay is usually shown as the median number of days taken at each stage of proceedings. For Higher Courts, the number and median delay for arrest to committal, committal to outcome, and outcome to sentence, are provided. For the Local and Children's Courts, the number and median delay for arrest to first appearance and first appearance to finalisation (determination), is provided. Note, medians cannot be added.
Sentences imposed on a defendant requiring a person to have restricted liberty for a specified period of time either through detainment in an institution/home. This includes the penalties of 'Imprisonment', 'Control order' and 'Periodic detention'.
A defendant against whom one or more criminal charges have been laid and which are heard together as one court appearance. Data in JusticeLink are case-based, with each case containing one or more charges against a single individual. When different charges within the same case are finalised on either the same or different dates in the same jurisdiction these are counted by BOCSAR as one finalised court appearance and therefore reported as one person. An individual may also be involved in multiple JusticeLink cases. "Individuals" are not identified in JusticeLink; they are identified by BOCSAR using Central Names Index (a Police-assigned identifier) and name matching algorithms. Only when multiple cases for an individual are finalised on the same date in the same jurisdiction are they counted by BOCSAR as one finalised court appearance and so reported as one person.
Those who, for at least one offence charged, either pleaded guilty, were found guilty ex parte, were found guilty after a defended hearing/trial or were found by the Higher Court to have a committed the act constituting the offence but were not criminally responsible due to mental health or cognitive impairment. Defendants with proven charges includes those with proven outcomes where no conviction is recorded.
Domestic violence offences are defined in the
Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 and identified in three ways:
A finalised appearance is where all charges against a defendant that is being dealt with at the same time have been processed to completion within a court level. Where the defendant was proven guilty for at least one charge, a finalised appearance will also involve an imposition of penalty.
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This indicates the level of the court in which a defendant's case is heard. Court levels can be distinguished from one another on the basis of the extent of their legal powers. The court levels are Higher Court (District and Supreme Court), Local Court and Children's Court.
Sentences imposed on a defendant that do not involve being held in custody. This category includes: suspended sentences, intensive corrections orders, community supervision or work orders, fines, and other non-custodial orders.
Offence groups are based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC), 2011 (Third edition) (cat. no. 1234.0). The tables in BOCSAR's NSW Criminal Court report show offences classified at ANZSOC division, subdivision and group levels. In this report, the ANZSOC group 'Breach of bond - probation' contains breaches of supervised bonds and as such is entitled 'Breach of bond - supervised'. The ANZSOC group 'Breach of bond - other' contains breaches of unsupervised bonds so is called 'Breach of bond - unsupervised'. 'Child sex offences' and 'Domestic violence offences' are not categories within ANZSOC. These offences are also counted in the appropriate ANZSOC categories. In addition, the ANZSOC group 'Exceed the prescribed content of alcohol or other substance limit' has been split into two categories 'Exceed the prescribed content of alcohol' and 'Exceed the prescribed content of illicit drugs'.
The way in which a defendant is completed as an item of business in a particular court level. A defendant is considered finalised when all charges against that defendant have been processed to completion within a court level. These are the possible outcomes:
Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999,
Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987,
Young Offenders Act 1997 and
Commonwealth Crimes Act 1914 cover the penalties which may be imposed in NSW criminal courts.
POIs are suspected offenders recorded by police in connection with a criminal incident. The POIs included in the Apprehended Violence Order table have all been proceeded against to court. POIs are not a count of unique offenders. Where an individual is involved in AVO incidents throughout the year they will appear as a POI multiple times. POIs are categorised as at the date they were legally proceeded against; not the date the incident occurred.
The formal statement by, or on behalf of, the defendant in response to a criminal charge that has been laid in a court. The nature of this response indicates whether or not the defendant intends to contest that charge.
The principal offence is defined as the offence charged which received the most serious penalty according to the following rules:
For rate calculations, specialised population data were prepared and provided to BOCSAR by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. For 12 month periods which are not a calendar year (e.g. a financial year), population is based on the later calendar year within range of the reference.
This refers to the residential Statistical Area (SA) of the Person of Interest (POI). Please see the maps in the Appendix of our latest recorded crime report for information on the location of each SA as well as lists of the Local Government Areas (LGAs using 2016 boundaries) within each of the SAs. Note that LGA boundaries change from time to time.
Where a defendant enters a not guilty plea or other defended plea in the committal proceedings, they are committed to a Higher Court for trial. In the Higher Courts, trials are usually conducted before a judge and jury whereby the judge rules on questions of law, and the jury is responsible for determining whether or not the defendant is guilty. In NSW a trial can also be conducted before a judge alone.