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Penalties given by a Court


What are the penalties of the Children’s Court?

No punishment



Youth community based order

Intensive youth supervision order

Custodial sentence

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 must consider options that will best promote your rehabilitation and help you get back on track.  They 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 and cultural background.

Below is an overview of the Children’s Court penalties. The Children’s Court will usually only issue you with one penalty each time you find yourself in trouble.


No punishment

The Court may decide to not punish you. This means they will give you a very stern warning and talk about your behaviour.

If you are given this order, it means the Court has decided to let you off without a conviction.  So even though you were found guilty of something, the matter will not show up on your criminal record. This usually happens when you’re in trouble for doing something less serious, such as littering.

There are three types of ‘no punishment’ orders the Court can make:

  1.  ‘No punishment and no conditions’.  This means you will not be punished or penalised, in addition to not being convicted.
  2. ‘No punishment but conditions’.  This order will be given to you if you, or your parents, agree to give the Court an undertaking. If you give an undertaking, you are agreeing not to do something, like commit another crime. This order means you will not be penalised or convicted, but you will have to keep your promise.
  3. ‘No punishment but security or recognisance’., This is similar to a good behaviour bond.  It means that you must not commit any crimes and ‘keep the peace’ for the period of the order, usually a maximum period of one year. You might also have to agree to other conditions such as:

  •  Having a curfew,
  • Going to school
  • Providing monetary amounts to assure the Court that you will keep your promise. This is also called a ‘surety’ or ‘security’

If, at the end of the term of your agreement, you have kept up your good behaviour and the Court is happy with you, the Court will return your surety payment and you will be free to go. But, if you have breached your order the Court may decide that you lose the amount of money you paid as a surety.



The Court may order an adjournment for a certain period of time.  This means that the Court has decided to wait for a while 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 another 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.

When the adjournment is over and you have to go back to Court to be sentenced, if you can show the Court that you’ve met all the conditions and have stayed out of trouble, the Court might give you a less serious sentence.



The Court might order you to pay a monetary amount in the form of a fine, costs, restitution or compensation.

A fine will only be ordered if you are being sentenced for an offence which carries a penalty of imprisonment.  If this is the case the Court may, instead of detaining you, order you to pay a fine up to a maximum of $2,000.

The Court might also or instead make you pay to compensate for the damage that you have done.

Before making you pay anything, the Court will consider whether you are able to pay, like checking if you have a job, how much money you have or whether you have a parent or guardian who can afford to pay the monetary amount.


Youth community based order

The Court may make a youth community based order, if you consent to it and the Court determines that you are suitable for it.  These orders are pretty strict and you will be required to follow a lot of conditions. These might be attendance conditions, community work conditions or supervision conditions, or a combination of all three.

  • Attendance conditions: may require you to attend school, or rehabilitative courses for up to 6 months.  
  • Community work conditions: if you are over 12 years old,  the Court can order you to perform unpaid work, usually with a charity or community organisation. The Court will order you to do up to 100 hours of work within a 3 month period.  
  • Supervision conditions: you will be required to report regularly to your youth justice officer, and follow their instructions, for a period of up to 12 months.

Other conditions you will have to follow as part of a community based order are that you cannot commit another offence and have to inform your supervising officer if you change addresses.

If you don’t do the work as specified in the order or break any of the conditions, you will have to go back to Court where they may increase the number of hours of community work you have to do, or sentence you to a more serious penalty.


Intensive youth supervision order

An intensive youth supervision order is similar to a youth community based order but it is a much more serious penalty. Most young people who are given this sentence have already had to follow a youth community based order before. If this is you, you will probably find that the conditions are a lot stricter.  The Court can also require you to report more regularly to your youth justice officer – up to three times per week.

An intensive youth supervision order can be made with or without detention.   If you are made to follow this order with detention, it is known as a conditional release order.  This means that although you’ve been sentenced to spend time in custody, you have been released into the community on the condition that you follow all the conditions under an intensive youth supervision order. Remember that these conditions are managed intensively and if they are not followed, it may mean a return to detention.


Custodial sentence

As a last resort, if the Court decides that you’ve  committed a very serious crime, and that none of the other penalties are suitable, the Court can imprison you in a youth detention centre.

Most young people who are given this sentence have committed crimes before, and may have had to follow orders.

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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