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World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems: Australia

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 1993
This report provides information and statistics on Australia's criminal justice system, including its police, courts, and corrections.

The Commonwealth of Australia is a federalist government composed of a national government and six State governments. The government of the Commonwealth is responsible for the enforcement of its own laws. The most frequently prosecuted Commonwealth offenses are those related to the importation of drugs and the violation of social security laws. Offenses against a person or against property that occur in Commonwealth facilities are also regarded as offenses against the Commonwealth. The States are primarily responsible for the development of criminal law. The structure of the Australian legal system is derived from, and still closely follows, that of the United Kingdom. In addition to Parliament-made law, there is the common law inherited from the English courts, which has since been developed and refined by Australian courts. Since 1963, however, Australian courts have ceased to regard English decisions as superior or even equal in authority to those made by Australian courts. The legal system is adversarial and places high priority on the presumption of innocence. Due to the federalist system of government, there are nine separate legal systems operating. Although there are some significant differences among these systems, they are similar in structure and operation. In this report, a section on crime discusses the classification of crimes and crime statistics. A section on crime victims addresses the groups most victimized by crime, victims' assistance agencies, the role of victims in prosecution and sentencing, and victims' rights legislation. A discussion of the police considers administration, resources, technology, training and qualifications, discretion, and accountability. A section on prosecutorial and judicial process considers rights of the accused and criminal procedures. Other sections describe the judicial system, penalties and sentencing, prisons, and extradition and treaties. 14 references

Date Published: June 1, 1993