If you are under 18 years old (between 10 – 17yrs old) and find yourself in trouble with the police for something, you may not have to go to court. The law recognises the importance of protecting young people and keeping them out of the court system where it’s appropriate. This is because young people who don’t go through the court system are often more accountable for their actions and less likely to commit other crimes in the future.
The laws which explains all the options in South Australia is the Young Offenders Act 1993 . The Act establishes a system of warnings, formal cautions and family conferences. Generally, you are required to attend court only as a last resort and for very serious crimes or if you have been in trouble with the police before.
No matter what, always keep in mind that your punishment will fit the crime – you’re not going to be sent to jail for getting a parking ticket!
The Act covers young people aged between who are at least 10 and under 18 at the time of the alleged crime.
The police can give you a informal caution, a formal caution or refer you to a family conference for a minor offence. Whether the offence is minor depends on what the police officers thinks, as well as:
- how likely you are to commit another crime
- the damage your actions have done
For example, if you have committed a violent crime, then it is not very likely you will be able to get a caution or go to conference. You will probably have to go to court for that.
This page was last updated 28 June 2015.