Juvenile Detention – Youth Justice Centres

The role of the Children’s Court is to hear and determine certain criminal matters involving children who are accused of committing crimes. All charges will start in the Children’s Court, and most will be finalised there. However ‘serious children’s indictable offences’ will be finalised in adult courts, following certain procedures pertaining to children’s matters.

 Much like adults, a child will only be sentenced for a crime where they have either plead guilty or be found guilty. The sentencing regime and the types of penalties that can be imposed are different from adult courts. While there are some similarities between the types of sentences that can be imposed, there is a much higher focus on educating, rehabilitating and supporting young offenders than there is in the adult courts.  

 While many children who are sentenced serve their sentence in the community, unfortunately, some are taken into custody to serve their sentence. This sentence is known in legal terms as a ‘control order’ and otherwise known as juvenile detention. Such a penalty is not imposed lightly and by law, can only be imposed if the court “is satisfied that it would be wholly inappropriate to deal with the person by the imposition of any other available penalty”. This is because of the seriousness that comes with the deprivation or removal of any person’s liberty, as is the case with a control order, as well as the detrimental impact it can have on a child’s life and future is so significant.

 Juvenile detention centres are called Youth Justice Centres. There are six in New South Wales.

 The impact that can flow from a child being taken into custody and being subject to a control order are significant and in some cases, devastating. It is important to get legal advice if you, or a child you know, is facing criminal allegations or criminal charges.

 The Children’s Legal Service Hotline is open seven days a week, and you can contact them on 1800 10 18 10 for advice. Armstrong Legal often acts for children whose parents are seeking private legal representation. We are always available to provide advice at short notice, and you can contact them on 1300 038 223.

 BY: Trudie Cameron, Senior Associate, Criminal Law, Sydney

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