Young people who are under the age of 18 and have been charged with a criminal offence can face a number of penalties.
Penalties for minors who are found guilty in the children’s court vary from a caution, to a custodial sentence.
The adult prison system isn’t considered appropriate for children, so if they are found guilty of a serious offence and custody is considered the appropriate course of action, they will be given a control order and will be sentenced to a specialist child facility known as a juvenile justice centre.
In some circumstances, children can also be placed on remand at a juvenile justice centre, where they will serve out the time between being charged with a criminal offence and their matter being finalised in court.
What is a juvenile justice centre?
A juvenile justice centre is a facility for young people who have been found guilty of serious criminal offences.
At juvenile justice centres, inmates are grouped according to age and gender and they undergo a variety of counselling and rehabilitative programs aimed at helping them reduce their likelihood of reoffending on release.
Some of the rehabilitation programs available at juvenile justice centres include counselling, drug and alcohol treatment, anger management and programs designed at helping young offenders develop life skills.
Young offenders will be given access to the most appropriate programs for their individual needs and circumstances.
How likely is it that a child will be given a control order?
Control orders and time in custody are considered to be the most extreme form of sentencing for young offenders, and will generally be given when other options have been exhausted, or for extremely severe offences.
The court can sentence a young offender to a maximum of two years in custody.
When determining what sentence is most appropriate in the children’s court, there are a number of factors that a judge or magistrate will keep in mind.
The main factors include the primary goal of rehabilitating the child, whether or not there is a likelihood that the child will reoffend if they are allowed to serve their sentence in the community, and the seriousness and prevalence of the offence.
Other factors include the health and personal circumstances of the child, and any additional needs they may have.
When sentencing children in general, magistrates are directed to keep in mind the impact of time spent away from home on a child’s education and schooling, as well as on their emotional development.
When they are being sentenced, children have a number of rights, which are recognised internationally.
Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, young offenders should have the right to have their voice heard in any matters relating to them, and they should only be deprived of liberty as a last resort and for the shortest possible period of time.
Can a control order be suspended?
In some cases, a magistrate may sentence a young offender to time in custody and then suspend the order and allow them to serve out the time in the community under the conditions of a good behaviour bond.
Suspension of a control order is at the discretion of the individual judge or magistrate.
If a child has been given a suspended sentence, they will be supervised by juvenile justice and will be required to abide by certain conditions.
These could include restrictions on their behaviour and a curfew.
It’s important that the child understands the terms of their good behaviour bond, as breaking them could mean they end up serving the rest of their sentence in a juvenile justice centre.
If your child has been charged with a criminal offence, it’s important to consult a criminal lawyer with experience in defending juvenile matters to help make sure your child gets the best possible outcome.
Whether or not your child will be sentenced to a control order if they are found guilty of a criminal offence depends on a number of factors, and your lawyer will be able to give you more detailed advice depending on the individual circumstances of the case.