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SENTENCES AND PENALTIES FOR CHILDREN IN COURT IN NSW
Youth Justice Conferences
There are other ways that the justice system deals with children. Juvenile Justice organises youth justice conferencing under the Young Offenders Act 1997. The Children’s Court can use the provisions of this act to refer young people for conferences when they have committed eligible offences. Youth justice conference is a round table experience where young offenders and support persons meet face to face with victims and police to discuss their offence and how it affects people and the community. An outcome plan can be reached that could include an apology, reasonable reparation or other plans to reconnect the young person with their community to help them stop further offending.
Convictions, non convictions and criminal records
Generally, a sentence handed down by a court will either be with conviction or without conviction. If a matter is handed down without conviction it allows you to say that you have not been convicted of the offence. This can be important for employment and visa applications. A non conviction order reflects that the offence was not serious and/or the court considered your character worthy of a non conviction order. It is important to note that the finding of guilt will still be recorded on your criminal history.
In Children’s Court matters non conviction orders are specifically legislated. This is because what we do as a child is not necessarily what we will do as an adult. It is an important aspect of the Children’s Court sentencing regime – that people can change once they mature into adulthood. Even when conviction orders are handed down in the Children’s Court they are not admissible in any other criminal proceedings, including bail applications, if you have not committed any other offences within 2 years. This gives young adults the chance of a clean record.
Section 14 of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act provides that if you are under the age of 16 the court must not record a conviction. If you are over the age of 16 the court has a discretion not to record a conviction.
There are many more issues surrounding the sentencing of children in the Children’s Court. It is important that legal mechanisms are activated to ensure that convictions are not recorded where appropriate and the criminal history reports do not show criminal histories when a child becomes an adult. Having legal representation in these matters ensures that the mistakes made as a child do not follow you when you become an adult.
If you are required to attend Children’s Court for an offence then the Local Court Lawyers will use their experience and knowledge to guide you through the process and protect your rights so that you can achieve the best possible result.