In the past four years, 46 alleged offenders have had their cases thrown out of court due to delays - including people on charges for rape, assaults with weapons, burglary, fraud and driving causing death.
Figures obtained by the Herald under the Official Information Act show the majority of the cases were dismissed from courts in the wider Auckland area.
But only 15 cases were dropped due to delays arising from the "action or inaction" of the court system. The remaining cases failed to reach a conclusion in court because of delays caused by the prosecution - the Crown or police - or a mixture of the two.
The Herald requested the information after assault victim Paul Barry went public about his case. Mr Barry had almost every bone on the right side of his face broken in an assault at a West Auckland birthday party in 2011.
He underwent multiple facial reconstruction operations and now has titanium plates in his skull. He has ongoing complications and permanent damage.
In November last year, the case against Mr Barry's alleged attacker, Dion Read, was thrown out by a judge who deemed it "unfair" to try him because of a delay in proceedings, which meant his trial would not go ahead until May 2015 at the earliest.
Judge Michael Crosbie ruled that the stay was the "only appropriate remedy".
The Crown reviewed the case at Mr Barry's request, but decided not to appeal against Judge Crosbie's decision and the "serious charge will go unanswered".
Mr Barry's case was one of 16 where stays of proceedings were granted in the Auckland District Court between 2010 and 2014. A further six were granted in the Manukau District Court, five in the Waitakere District Court, two in the North Shore District Court and one in the Papakura District Court.
The remaining stays were granted in district courts across New Zealand.
The most serious charges that were not heard due to stays being granted included rape, child sex offending, assault with a blunt instrument, driving causing death and injuring with intent to injure.
The Ministry of Justice district courts general manager Tony Fisher pointed out that the number of stays granted was tiny compared with the number of cases resolved by the courts.
From the 2010/11 to the 2013/14 financial year, 645,733 criminal cases were "disposed" of and 46, 0.007 per cent, were stayed.
"Section 25(b) of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 provides that every person charged with an offence has the right to have that charge determined without undue delay," he said.
If a defendant believes there has been an undue delay, he or she can apply for a stay of proceedings. A judge may also order a stay on his or her own volition if he or she deems there has been an undue delay.
Mr Fisher said court proceedings may be stayed for "systemic" or "prosecutorial" reasons, or a combination of both.
Sensible Sentencing Trust spokeswoman Ruth Money was angry many crimes were going unanswered.
"The democratic right of access to 'justice' is being commandeered by legal process as opposed to a fair and balanced court of law.
"Victims' rights are being completely abused by avoiding court proceedings.
"Stays only benefit the alleged offenders - yet another example of how the so called justice system sides with offenders over victims."
What is a stay of proceedings?
A ruling by the court in civil and criminal procedure, stopping further legal process in a trial. The court can subsequently lift the stay and resume proceedings. However, a stay is usually granted to postpone proceedings indefinitely.
Who can apply for a stay?
Section 25(b) of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 provides that every person charged with an offence has the right to have that charge determined without undue delay. If they feel there has been an undue delay they can apply for a stay.
By year: stays granted vs cases disposed of in court
• 2010/11 - 8 vs 186,041
• 2011/12 - 11 vs 169,423
• 2012/13 - 17 vs 153,826
• 2013/14 - 10 vs 136,443