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Penalties given by a Court


What matters are heard by the Children’s Court?

What are the penalties of the Children’s Court?

Dismissal

Release and adjournment order

Compensation Levy

Fine

Probation order

Community service order

Suspended detention order

Detention order




What matters are heard by the Children’s Court?


If you are under 18, and you have committed a crime that is less serious, you will most likely be sent to the Children’s Court.

The Children’s Court deals with the following types of matters:

  • any crime that has allegedly been committed by a person under the age of 18;  and
  • applications for restraining orders.  

If you have committed a very serious crime, such as murder, the case may be heard in the Supreme Court. Also, if you are over 15 years old, you can choose to have the case heard in a Court with a jury.  

If you have been charged with a crime and have been asked to attend Court, we strongly suggest that you seek legal advice to discuss your options. For further information about appropriate legal advice, please send us a Lawmail to: www.lawstuff.org.au/lawmail   


 

What are the penalties of the Children’s Court?


If you are under 18 years old and have been found guilty of a crime by the Children’s Court, you should know about all the different types of penalties (sometimes called ‘sentences’) you could be facing.

Remember that when choosing a penalty, the Court will usually consider the seriousness of your actions and any previous criminal record you have.  They will also take into account things like your age, level of maturity, family relationship and where you live, work or go to school.

Below is an overview of the Children’s Court penalties. The Court might choose one penalty or a combination of many.

 

Dismissal


If the Court finds you guilty of a crime, the Court might decide to dismiss your matter. This means that you will have no punishment, and the matter will not show up on your criminal record.  This usually only happens when you’re in trouble for doing something less serious, such as littering. There are three ways the Court can dismiss you.

  1.  The Court may dismiss your matter without a penalty.
  2. The Court may dismiss your matter, without a penalty, but will also talk to you about the seriousness of your crime.
  3. The Court may dismiss your matter, but will require you to be on ‘good behaviour’ for a maximum period of 6 months.  

If you give are on good behaviour, you have restrictions on the things you can and can’t do, such as committing another crime, or having a curfew.  

 

Release and adjournment order


The Court may make a release and adjournment order for up to 12 months.  This means that the Court has decided to give you some more time before telling you what your penalty is. The Court will sometimes do this if they are thinking of imposing a serious penalty, but want to give you a chance to show that you can stay out of trouble.

Usually the Court will order an adjournment with conditions, such as reporting to police regularly or attending a drug and alcohol program. If you break these conditions, the Court can decide to change the conditions of the order,   or give you another, harsher, punishment.  

If, when the adjournment is over, and you go back to the Court to be sentenced, you can show the Court that you followed all the conditions and stayed out of trouble, the Court may give you a less serious punishment.

 

Compensation Levy


A compensation levy (which is a financial penalty) is charged to a person who is convicted of an serious offence.   This is not related to the offence itself but rather for the fact that you have been convicted in a court.

However, you will not need to pay the levy if:

  • you are convicted in the Children’s Court; or
  • convicted by the Supreme Court but you were under 18 when you committed the offence.


The levy is usually $20 to $50 but can sometimes be higher.

 

Fine


If you are under the age of 17, the Court can order you to pay a fine up to a maximum of $1400.  If you are 17 years old or over, the Court can order you to pay a larger amount. How much you will have to pay depends on things like your age, what you have done, and whether you have a job or can afford to pay the fine.  

 

Probation order


If the Court finds you guilty of committing a crime, the Court might make you follow a probation order.  

This means that you have to be on good behaviour and not commit any crimes during the time of the order.  You will also be required to have visits with a youth justice worker, who will be responsible for supervising your order and will help you work through any problems you are having.  You have to notify this worker of any changes to your employment, school, or living arrangements and any travel outside of Victoria.    

The Court might also make you follow ‘special conditions’, such as giving you a curfew, going to school or attending medical, psychological or drug counselling.

The probation order is usually less than 12 months long; however, if you have committed a serious crime, it may be 2 years.

If, at the end of your probation order, you have followed all of the orders, you will have served your sentence. But if you don’t follow all of the conditions of the order, you might be brought back to Court and sentenced again. The Court may then make you follow more conditions or even cancel the order and sentence you to a more serious punishment.

 

Community service order


If you are over 13 years old, and you agree,  the Court may order you to do community service work.  Before the Court makes this order, they will have to receive a pre-sentence report which states that you are a suitable person for community work, and that there is work available.

If you between 13-15 years old, the maximum number of hours of community service the Court can assign you to do is 70.  If you are over 16 years old, the maximum is 210 hours.

If you don’t do the work as specified in the order, it is likely that you will have to go back to Court where they may increase the number of hours you have to do, or may cancel the order and sentence you to a more serious penalty.

 

Suspended detention order


Sometimes the Court will sentence you to a ‘suspended’ detention order.  This means that although the Court has ordered you to spend time in a detention centre, the Court has delayed this from happening so you can show the Court that you are capable of good behaviour and staying out of trouble.

You will be able to live at home, but will have to follow strict conditions such as regularly reporting to your youth justice worker, going to school, not drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs, having a curfew, or attending medical, psychological or drug counselling.  If you break any of these conditions or commit another crime, the Court might decide to send you to detention for the entire time originally set down.

 

Detention order


As a last resort, if the Court decides that the crime you have committed is so serious that none of the other penalties are suitable, the Court can imprison you in a detention place, such as a youth justice centre, for up to 2 years.  

This generally only happens if you have failed to follow previous orders, or have committed crimes in the past.

While in detention, you may be required to attend school, play sports and attend programs to address any issues you may have with alcohol, drugs, or anger management.

Click on the links to your right to find out more information on this topic. Also see our Lawstuff pages on “When can I be convicted of a criminal offence




This page was last updated 28 June 2015.

 

 

   
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