Last updated:

October 13, 2020

What do I need to know?

This is a multi-step search. First you must identify the criminal trial brief number (or case number) online and return to this page to search.

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

You will need to visit reading room staff for year 1905.

How do I search?

To locate the above information go to our Tips section on this page 

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. Capital cases are those where the accused could face hanging.


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

TIPS! How to find the case number on

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 2".


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

  1. at the top of the page click on the year
  2. select a year of interest (Note: 1905 is missing.)
  3. the first 20 or so pages of the volume for each year contain a list of the prisoners, alphabetically by surname 
  4. find the surname and write down the number next to the name (it's a page number)
  5. scroll beyond the name index to the prison register pages
  6. locate the page number, find name, note “No of case”
  7. if the number includes a backslash e.g. 85/123, this is also a case number, with the first number indicating a previous or subsequent year when a hearing took place.
  8. return to this page and enter case number and year

Watch this video instruction for further help.