Last updated:

December 23, 2021

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.

How do I search?

  • A visual Step by Step guide is located at the bottom of the page
  • Use Search Option 1 to locate a register of criminal trial briefs covering the year of interest. The registers have not been digitised, so they will need to be viewed in PROV's North Melbourne Reading Room.
  • Use the Step by Step instructions at the bottom of the page to navigate through the register and find an entry for the trial of interest (note that these are the same instructions provided on the 1892-1932 criminal trial briefs page - the only difference is that the registers have not been digitised).
  • Return here and 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. Indictable offences are the criminal offences that are prosecuted in the Supreme Court and the County Court. Capital cases are those where the accused could face hanging. Criminal trial briefs are closed to public inspection for a period of 75 years under the Public Records Act. 

Next Steps

Come into the Victorian Archives Centre Reading Room to view the records you've ordered.

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 (occasionally) 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. The registers have not been digitised, so you will need to order them for viewing them in the North Melbourne Reading Room.

    STEP 2

    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.
    To the left of the name you will find one or more case numbers (in this case, 423), and to the right a page number (110). The case number and the year are all that you need to place the order, so if you are confident that this is the correct case, you can go to Step 4.

    If you're interested in the case details, browse through the register until you come to the right page.



    STEP 3

    Once you've found the right page (see the page number at top right), you'll see details about the case, including the case number:


    STEP 4

    The final step to locate the trial brief of interest is to enter the details you've discovered into Search Option 2 - enter the year in both the start year and end year boxes:


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples.