Youth Justice System
In Queensland, the Youth Justice Act 1992 (‘the Act’) provides an alternative to court proceedings for young people who commit certain offences. The Act establishes a scheme of warnings, formal cautions, early intervention boot camps and youth justice conferences. A detention order (prison) should only be given as a last resort.
The law emphasises the importance of the involvement of parents and guardians, the importance of offenders accepting responsibility for their actions, and the importance of community based solutions.
The Act covers young people aged between 10 and 16 years at the time of the alleged offence. It does not cover you once you are 17 years of age.
Not all criminal offences are covered by the Act. Some examples of offences that you may receive a warning, caution or referral to a youth justice conference for include:
- Offensive language;
- Driving dangerously;
- Causing damage to property
- Drinking alcohol with friends at a park
- Drink spiking
- Breaking and entering into a house and stealing
- sexual offences,
- stalking/intimidation offences, or breaches of an apprehended violence order,
- if someone has died as a result of the offence,
- most drug offences, except for possession of very small amounts.
These offences will be dealt with through regular legal processes, including going to court and may also involve referral to a Youth Justice Conference. See our Lawstuff pages on “When can I be convicted of a criminal offence” for more information.
If the crime is not very serious, the police officer must first consider it’s appropriate to :
- to take no action; or
- to give you a caution; or
- to refer the offence to a Youth Justice Conference; or
- if your offence is a minor drugs offence, to offer you the opportunity to attend a drug diversion assessment program.
When making this decision, the police have to think about:
- whether you have previously broken the law
- whether you have broken the law in the same way before
- if you’ve ever been given a caution before.
In very serious cases, a police officer can obtain a warrant for your arrest or, in some circumstances, arrest you for an offence without a warrant. But this is quite unlikely.
If you’re under 25 and you’ve been accused of a crime and want to know what could happen, please send us a Lawmail and we can give you free advice and information. Everything you tell us will be kept confidential.
This page was last updated 28 June 2015.