Last updated:

May 15, 2019

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
  • location of the trial
  • month they were on trial
  • year the accused was or was to be tried.

 

How do I search?

If you do not have the case number or criminal trial brief number you can locate this number on Ancestry.com.au

See our Tips section for instructions. 

 

    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 1855-1891. 

    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 criminal may be hanged.

    Next Steps

    Order the file to view in the Reading Room

    What are in these records?

    For each case you will find an accumulation of documentation.  The range of specific documents found in and the consequent size of this accumulation will vary from case to case.  

    Criminal trial brief registers:

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

    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 (although these were culled from most of the documentation for cases currently available for public inspection) 

    Transcripts are rarely, if ever, found in 19th and early 20th Century trial briefs. These appear more frequently in cases from the middle of the 20th Century.

    TIPS! How to find the case number on Ancestry.com.au

    View the records via this link - use the drop down list at the right hand side of the page and select "Criminal Trial Brief Register 1".

     

    1. At the top of the page is Criminal Trial Brief Register 1, click on the date range to see a list
    2. there will be two links for each year, select the 'index' first (e.g. '1890 Index' )
    3. find the surname and write down the page number next to the name
    4. return to the date range and select the year only (e.g. '1890')
    5. locate the page number (top left or right) and write down the case number (left), month (top of page), court location (e.g. Melbourne) and year
    6. Return to this page to search with the case number and year

    To view these records for free within Public Record Office Victoria Reading Rooms: Reading Room Access Only