What could happen if a young person breaks the law?
When a young person breaks the law and admits to or is found guilty of an offence, the court or police will tell the young person what they must do. This includes cautions, referrals to a Youth Justice Conference, community orders and custodial sentences.
When a young person breaks the law
When a young person breaks the law, they will talk to the police.
If the police charge the young person:
- the young person will go to court
- the court will hold a hearing
- the young person may be sentenced to a community order or control order.
Learn more about what happens when a young person becomes involved with the police.
Types of orders
The type of sentence outcome is different for every young person and offence. Depending on the seriousness of the crime, the young person may be given one or multiple orders that will take place in the community or in custody. The outcome may or may not be supervised by Youth Justice.
Possible outcomes for young people facing court
Once the young person is charged, they may receive bail. A young person may also be granted bail at any point in the proceedings.
The court will hold a hearing and if the young person pleads guilty or is found guilty, the court will sentence the young person. Once the young person is sentenced, the order may be served in the community, or in custody if the crime is more serious. If the court order is to be served in the community, it may or may not be supervised by Youth Justice.
Some outcomes include:
referral to a Youth Justice Conference
sending a young person to a Youth Justice Centre - this is a control order.
Learn more about types of orders below.
A control order is the most serious type of order. It means that the young person will have to spend time in custody in a Youth Justice Centre.
The court will decide how long the young person must stay in custody. While the young person is in custody, they will go to school, training courses, counselling, and other programs.
If the young person is over 18 when they are sentenced, the young person may be able to stay in Youth Justice custody rather than going to adult custody. The young person’s lawyer can help the young person with this if they meet the requirements to stay in Youth Justice under section 19 of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987.
Community orders are a type of order served in the community. Community orders are issued by a magistrate or judge if they determine that a crime has been committed. Youth Justice supervise the following community orders:
Good Behaviour Bonds
Community Service Order
Community Clean Up Order
Suspended Control Order
The police or court can also refer a young person to a Youth Justice Conference.
The following outcomes are types of community orders. Orders vary according to the seriousness of the crime and the young offender’s background.
A Good Behaviour Bond is an order from the court requiring the young person to stay out of trouble. The young person may or may not be required to be supervised by Youth Justice.
The court can also give the young person conditions to comply with. These could include things like:
being of good behaviour
turning up to court when asked
living at an agreed place
going to school
going to rehab or counselling
not seeing co-offenders
not going to specific places.
To learn about Good Behaviour Bonds, contact a caseworker or a local Youth Justice Community Office.
Probation is like a Good Behaviour Bond and can have the same types of conditions. The young person may or may not be required to be supervised by Youth Justice.
To learn more about probation, contact a caseworker or a local Youth Justice Community Office.
A Community Service Order is a requirement to complete a certain number of hours of work and programs in the community.
Youth Justice will tell the young person what kind of work or programs they will have to do. They could include gardening and programs such as counselling.
Read more about Youth Justice Community services.
A Community Clean Up Order is given to a young person guilty of a graffiti offence. The court will issue the young person with a fine. The young person can pay off the fine debt at any time or participate in community clean-up work.
The young person will have 12 months to complete the community clean-up work. Each hour of work will count as $30 off the fine debt. The young person may also be required to attend a graffiti prevention education program.
Learn more about Youth Justice prevention education programs.
If the young person receives a Suspended Control Order, the court is giving the young person a chance to stay in the community if they do not get in any more trouble and they are of good behaviour. If the young person does not follow the directions of the order or if they get in more trouble, the young person could go to custody.
As with other court orders, the young person can have conditions such as a Good Behaviour Bond (see above) and may be required to be supervised by Youth Justice.
Young people can find out more about their case by contacting their caseworker or local Youth Justice Community Office.
A Control Order will include two parts:
The non-parole period is the time that the young person must remain in custody. Being in custody is not a community order.
When a young person is given a control order, there is a set period of time - a non-parole period - where the young person must stay in custody.
After the young person’s non-parole period, and if the young person is eligible, the young person may be allowed to serve the rest of their sentence in the community. This part of the sentence is called a Parole Order.
The young person must be of good behaviour and not commit any further offence while on parole, or they will be returned to custody.
The young person may also have additional supervision conditions they must comply with. These include things like:
being supervised by Youth Justice
living at an agreed place
going to school or attending a job or training course
going to rehab or counselling
not seeing co-offenders
not going to specific places
not leaving NSW without permission.
Other types of outcomes
Youth Justice Conference
Young people and victims can be referred to a Youth Justice Conference by police or court.
The young person and victim can refuse the conference.
If the young person refuses the conference, they may be charged with the offence by police and it may result in a more serious sentence outcome.
If the young person attends the conference, the participants will agree on an outcome plan for the young person. The young person must complete the tasks in the plan.
See how Conferencing can help young people and victims.
Bail is an agreement young people make with the police or court so that they can stay out of custody while the matter goes through court.
If the young person does not stick to the agreement, the police can arrest the young person and they can go into custody which means they get sent to a Youth Justice Centre.
Police and courts can grant bail.
Police bail is determined by police at the time of charge.
If bail is refused by police, then the young person is admitted into custody. The young person will then apply to the Court for release on bail. Attendance is either in-person at court, or via audio-visual link from the centre they are detained within. If bail is granted, the young person is released.
If the police refuse bail, the young person will be held in custody on remand in a Youth Justice Centre. During this time, the young person can apply for bail through the court ahead of the hearing date of the offence. If the young person is then refused bail by the court, they will remain on remand. In most cases, a young person can continue to apply for bail while on remand as they approach their hearing date for the offence.
When bail is granted by police or court
Bail can be supervised or unsupervised. If bail is to be supervised, it will be supervised by Youth Justice.
Learn more about the conditions and types of bail.
Other outcomes not managed by youth justice
A warning can be given by the police to a young person who has committed minor non-violent offences, except for any graffiti offences. A warning will not go on a young person’s criminal history. Youth Justice is not involved in the warning process.
A caution is like a formal warning. It can be given by police or court. A caution will be recorded by police or the court but will not go on a young person’s criminal history. Youth Justice is not involved in the caution process.
Fines are issued by the court or police. A court can issue a young person with a fine and order them to do community clean-up work to pay off the amount of the fine. The young person can:
pay off fines over time
sign up to a Work and Development Order.
A Work and Development Order allows the young person to work off the amount in different ways, like going to counselling or signing up for a training course.
Find out how to apply for a Work and Development Order.
Fines are not managed by Youth Justice.