Juvenile Justice Law in NSW

Juvenile Justice Law in NSW

Juvenile Justice Law in NSW

Juvenile justice law deals with young people charged with a criminal offence in NSW. Youth Justice NSW provides support services and information to help young people and their families.

Find out more about the youth justice system in NSW, options for young offenders, bail and the relevant legislation.

Let’s take a closer look.

What Is The Youth Justice Act?

Legislation in the Juvenile Justice Act provides the framework to deal with young people and the criminal justice system. It states the procedures the court and police must follow when dealing with the youth justice system.

Youth justice is the responsibility of each state and territory in Australia, and each has its policies and procedures when dealing with young people.

What Is The Age Of Criminal Liability In NSW?

As stated in the Crimes Act, the minimum age of criminal liability for a young person in Australia is ten. If a child under this age commits an offence, the matter is managed via parental discipline or counselling.

The Children’s Criminal Proceedings Act 1987 states that an offender under 21 may be tried as a juvenile to avoid adult prison, as they may be better suited to youth detention due to vulnerability or illness.

Police And Young Offenders

When a young person is arrested and charged with an offence in NSW, the process is similar to adults, but there are additional precautions that are required when dealing with young people, such as the following:

  • When taking fingerprints or photos of young people under 14 years old, the police must have a court order.
  • When interviewing a young person, an independent support person must be present, such as a lawyer or relative.
  • Before interviewing a young person, they must be given a caution and explained their rights.

Young Offenders Act

Legislation contained within the Young Offenders Act may allow young people an option to avoid court proceedings by receiving a warning from the police instead of being charged with an offence. 

Warning Or Caution

A warning or formal caution may be given to young people when they admit to the offence. Police will consider the circumstances of the offence, harm to the victim and degree of violence involved when making a decision.

Details of the decision are recorded in their police file, as well as a caution notice that explains the nature and effect of the warning. A warning is only applicable for minor non violent offences and is an option for first time offenders.

Youth Justice Conference

When a young person admits to an offence, the court or police may refer the young offender to a youth justice conference. The conference is an opportunity for the young person to meet with the victims and their families to discuss the offence and potential resolutions and agree on a suitable outcome. A youth justice conference allows the young person to move forward, restore relationships and begin rehabilitation.

Bail For Young Offenders

When a child is charged with an offence, the court or police may grant the young person bail, or if refused bail they will be held in a youth detention centre until their legal matter is finalised in court. In most cases, when the young person is not a risk to the community, they will be granted bail. Additional conditions may be included, such as a requirement that the young person attend school or adhere to a curfew. In some cases, they must avoid contact with co-offenders.

The court may also impose an accommodation requirement, which ensures that the young person has suitable accommodation arrangements before being released on bail. Unfortunately, this has a negative impact on homeless young people, as they will generally be denied bail.

A bail and accommodation support service (BASS) helps young people gain access to bail by utilising a bail support coordinator who can help police locate relatives, arrange transport and meet their bail. conditions The youth justice BASS team provides after-hours support and helps youths secure suitable accommodation. 

Which Court Do Young Offenders Attend?

Children aged between 10-18 charged with an offence will generally attend the Children’s Court to have their matter heard. Young offenders between the age of 10-18 will proceed to a District or Supreme Court for serious indictable offences.

Youth Justice Centre

In NSW, the Department of Communities and Justice have established youth justice centres and programs that help support and care for young people who have committed or are at risk of committing an offence. Legislation contained in the Children’s Act states how to treat young people held in youth justice centres.

Numerous youth justice community offices across the state provide intervention programs and services to help young offenders make better life choices.

A youth detention or youth justice centre houses young people who have been sentenced and refused bail. In New South Wales, there are six youth justice centres where young people serve sentences in detention across the state.

Statistics reflect that the number of young people sentenced to detention who identify as Torres Strait Islander or Aboriginal in recent years has been at least 50 percent.

There are several services for young people available at the youth justice centres including, the following:

  • Health, education and spiritual guidance
  • Individual case management
  • Employment training
  • Counselling
  • Day to day living skills
  • Intervention programs
  • Correction orders
  • Programs to help rehabilitate young offenders
  • Custodial services

Youth On Track

The Youth on Track program is run by Youth Justice NSW and service providers throughout the state. The program is designed to help reduce the risk of young people reoffending or committing more serious crimes. Eligibility criteria must be met and youths can be referred to the program by various organisations working with young people.  

What Are The Alternatives To Youth Detention?

When sentencing a juvenile offender, rehabilitation is the preferred option to detention. A young person will only be sentenced to detention if it is appropriate in the circumstances. Other alternatives include the following:

  • Good behaviour bonds
  • Fines
  • Community Service
  • Bail

Summary

Legislation in the Juvenile Justice Act provides the framework to deal with young people and the criminal justice system. It states procedures the court and police must follow when dealing with the youth justice system.

As stated in the Crimes Act, the minimum age of criminal liability for a young person in Australia is ten. If a child under this age commits a criminal offence, the matter is managed by their parents or through counselling.

When a young person is arrested and charged with an offence in NSW, the process is similar to adults. There are additional precautions that are required when dealing with young people, such as having a support person present when conducting an interview.

Legislation contained within the Young Offenders Act may allow young offenders an opportunity to avoid court proceedings by receiving a warning from the police instead of being charged with an offence. They may also be referred to a youth justice conference.

When a child is charged with an offence, the court or police may grant the young person bail, or if refused bail, they will be held in a youth detention centre until their legal matter is finalised in court.

In New South Wales, the Department of Communities and Justice have established youth justice centres and programs that help support and care for young people who have committed or are at risk of committing an offence. Youth detention centres house young people who have been sentenced and refused bail. Several services for young people are available at the youth justice centres including, health, education and spiritual guidance, case management and counselling.

When sentencing a juvenile offender, rehabilitation is the preferred option to detention. A young person will only be sentenced to detention if it is appropriate in the circumstances. 

FAQs

What Is The Juvenile Justice Act In Australia?

Legislation in the Juvenile Justice Act provides the framework to deal with young people and criminal justice. It states procedures the court and police must follow when dealing with the youth justice system.

Youth justice is the responsibility of each state and territory in Australia, and each has its policies and procedures when dealing with young people.

Legislation contained within the Young Offenders Act may allow a young offender an option to avoid court proceedings by receiving a warning from the police instead of being charged with an offence. 

What Age Is Juvenile Detention In NSW?

As stated in the Crimes Act, the minimum age of criminal liability for a young person in Australia is ten. If a child under this age commits a criminal offence, the matter is managed by their parents or through counselling, avoiding the criminal justice system.

The Children’s Criminal Proceedings Act 1987 states that a young offender under 21 may be tried as a juvenile to avoid adult prison, as they may be better suited to youth detention due to vulnerability or illness.

What Is The Sentence For Youth In NSW?

When a child is charged with an offence, the court or police may grant the young person bail, or if refused bail, they will be held in a youth detention centre until their legal matter is finalised in court.

A warning or formal caution may be given to a young offender when they admit to the offence. A warning is only applicable for minor non violent offences and is an option for first time offenders.

When a young person admits to an offence, the Children’s court or police may refer the young offender to a youth justice conference.

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