The statistics presents information on the characteristics of defendants dealt with by NSW criminal courts. This includes information on the offences, case outcomes and sentences associated with those defendants.
Every six months BOCSAR released updated Criminal Court statistics. The latest file shows the characteristics of NSW Criminal Court finalisations over five years to June 2020, across a large range of variables including: court outcomes, bail/remand status, offence demographics, sentencing patterns, court delay and District Court appeals.
Finalised court appearances
• 2019/20 recorded 120,656 finalised criminal court appearances, down 13.6% from the previous year (139,636 in 2018/19). The significant decline is largely due to changes to court operations to protect the safety of court users during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Finalisations were lower in each jurisdiction. In the Local Court the number of finalised court appearances was down 14.0%, from 128,623 in 2018/19 to 110,622 in 2019/20.
• The offence type with the largest decline was Traffic and vehicle regulatory offences, down 27.3% (11,833 finalisations) from 43,270 in 2018/19 to 31,437 in 2019/20. This reduction is largely due to the drink and drug driving reform implemented in May 2019, which moved first time low level drink driving and drug-presence offences from court to an Infringement Notices (fine) process.
• COVID-19 measures introduced in the Local Court included postponement of defended hearings, sentencing matters likely to result in a custodial penalty and first listing of summary matters involving no bail considerations.
• COVID related changes in the higher courts included suspension of new jury trials, and specifically in the District Court, of new judge alone trials, sentencing hearings, arraignments and readiness hearings for defendants awaiting their court appearance in the community,
The proportion of defendants bail refused at finalisation increased in the District Court and Local Court over the past two years.
• In the District Court 32.6% of defendants were bail refused at finalisation (up from 27.4% in 2018/19).
• In the Local Court 7.6% of defendants were bail refused at finalisation (up from 6.6% in 2018/19).
The proportion of proven offenders sentenced to imprisonment increased from 2018/19 to 2019/20 from 11.1% to 11.3%.
• In the District Court 70.4% of proven offenders were sentence to imprisonment in 2019/20 (up from 63.0% in 2018/19).
• In the Local Court 9.1% of proven offenders were sentence to imprisonment in 2019/20 (up from 8.0% in 2018/19).
The rise in imprisonment is partly due to the changing case mix of matters finalised in the second quarter of 2020.
The median trial time from committal to outcome in the District Court in 2019/20 was 371 days and stable in the 24 months to June 2020.
The median time taken to finalise defended criminal matters in the Local Court increased in 2019/20, up from 198 days in 2018/19 to 213 days. It appears likely that the COVID-related postponement of Local Court matters has contributed to the observed increase in time to justice in that jurisdiction.