Last updated:

August 14, 2023

What do I need to know?

To locate a criminal trial brief you can search on this page, however you will need to first find the following information

  • case number or criminal trial brief number
  • name of the accused
  • the year the accused was tried or was scheduled to be tried.

There is no register for 1905. Contact PROV for details on how to search for a 1905 brief.


How do I search?

  • A visual Step by Step guide is located at the bottom of the page
  • If you do not know the case number of the trial you are looking for you will first need to use Search Option 1 to search for the criminal trial register that covers the year of interest. The registers have been digitised and can be viewed online, which means that you can alternatively browse them by year.
  • For help on how to use Search Option 1, use the Step by Step guide at the bottom of the page for guidance on how to:
    • search and find the right register to view online
    • navigate through the register and find an entry for the trial of interest that gives you a case number
  • Once you have done those steps, use the details you've discovered in Search Option 2. This will enable you to locate the trial brief of interest, which you can order for viewing in the Reading Room. 

    About these records

    These records consists of the documentation created by the state, to prosecute individuals committed for trial on serious charges, known as indictable or capital offenses, from 1892-1932

    Indictable offences are the criminal offences that are prosecuted in the Supreme Court and the County Court (Prior to 1969 called the Court of General Sessions). Capital offences are those where the accused may be hanged.


    Next Steps

    Once you have ordered the trial brief file, you can view it in the North Melbourne Reading Room.

    What are in these records?

    Criminal trial briefs:

    • original depositions
    • witness statements (known as depositions) made during the committal hearing and signed by the witness
    • witness recognisances
    • statement of the accused (if made)
    • bail documentation (if granted)
    • evidence tendered, including documents, very small sized items and, increasingly from the 1920s, photographs
    • inquest deposition file for the victim (murder or manslaughter)
    • prosecutor’s brief (occassionally) Transcripts (rare until mid 20th century).

    Criminal trial brief registers (online):

    • criminal case number
    • offence
    • date of offence
    • witnesses
    • trial date
    • judge
    • verdict
    • sentence

    Although criminal trial briefs are records created to document the prosecution of individuals committed for trial on serious charges, there may also be details of the actual criminal trials (where these proceeded) in detailed newspaper reports of cases, especially from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which were the work of specialist newspaper court reporters who did not have access to court documents.

    1. STEP 1

      Use Search Option 1 to find registers covering years of interest. You can also just search for one year by only using the start year box. Once you have done this click the Search button:

      STEP 2

      In the result set that appears, you must first tick the 'online' box in the left hand column to see the digitised register in the result list:

      STEP 3

      After you have ticked the 'online' box, the digitised register should now be visible in the result list and you can select it for viewing by clicking on the Select digital copy button:

      STEP 4

      In the early pages of the register, you'll find an alphabetical index to surnames. Browse through the index until you find the name of interest.

      Next to the name you will find a page number (note that the page number will be found in the top right corner of each image from the register - it isn't the same as the image number you'll see in the left side margin; usually the image number is higher than the page number). 

      Now browse through the register until you come to the right page.

      STEP 5

      Once you've found the right page (see the page number at top right), note the following information:

      • The number of the case (22)
      • The year of the register (1912)

      STEP 6

      The final step to locate the trial brief of interest is to enter the details you've discovered into Search Option 2 (you only need to enter the year into the start date box) then click on the Search button:

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