Children's Court of Western Australia

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Criminal Matters

Under the Young Offenders Act 1994, the Children's Court hears criminal matters involving young people (aged 10 to 17 years) who are accused of committing offences.

If a young person turns 18 after the date of the alleged offence, he or she will still appear before the Children's Court.

Visit the Interpreter Services page if you or your child have a hearing impairment or need help understanding English in Court.

Court forms for criminal matters are available from the Forms page.

As a parent, you have an important role when your child goes to court. You can support your child and give information to the court.

If you are not present and do not provide a good reason, the Court can order your attendance. If you fail to attend court when ordered, the Court may issue a warrant for you to be apprehended.

Your child should have a lawyer when going to Court. If you do not have a lawyer you should arrive at Court early and ask the Voluntary Court Welfare Service to arrange for your child to see the duty lawyer.

Magistrates sometimes will allow parents to give information to the Court which may be taken into account at the time of sentencing.

This usually happens if you tell your lawyer you have something you want to say.

You may want to tell the court how you are dealing with the situation and how your child has behaved since the offence occurred.

You may also want to bring character references from people including teachers, employers or sporting coaches for example, but it will be up to the magistrate whether they will be read.

If your child is required to attend an interview with a Youth Justice Officer to have a report written, you should also attend the interview so you know what is happening.

Your child may be brought to the Children's Court in three ways. He or she may be:

Arrested by the police and kept in Banksia Hill Detention Centre until going to court. Click on the name of the centre for information including locations, visits and contact details. If your child is remanded before court, let the court staff know that you are present on the day that your child appears in court.

Arrested and released on bail. Your child signs papers promising to attend court when asked. A responsible adult must also sign the papers to make sure the promise is kept. The Supervised bail program also known as Metropolitan Youth Bail Services is available for juveniles who do not have a responsible adult to sign their bail undertaking.

Given notice to attend court by a police officer. The notice states the date and time that your child must be in court. A copy of the notice should also be given to the child's guardian.

You will have to go to the Children's Court if you have be accused of committing an offence whilst under 18.

The President or magistrates at the court listen to evidence and decide if you are guilty or not guilty.

If you are found guilty, the President/magistrate will decide on your sentence.

More information about the President, magistrates and other people in the court can be found in the courtroom layout section.

Going to court

You should have a lawyer when you come to Court. If you do not have a lawyer you should arrive at court early and ask the Voluntary Court Welfare Service to arrange for you to see the duty lawyer.

Take your court papers and any other papers given to you by the police with you to court.

Make sure your mobile phone is switched off as you cannot use it while you are in court.

When you arrive, check with security staff to check your name is on the court list. The security counter is at the entrance of the Courthouse.

Your parents or guardian should come with you as their participation is important. They will sit at the back of the courtroom and may speak to the court via your lawyer.

  • When your name is called, you will go into court. You will be shown where to go, and where to stand
  • The magistrate will read the charge to you (this is what the police have accused you of)
  • If you do not understand the charge, or do not believe that what is being said is correct, you should say so
  • The magistrate will ask whether you are guilty or not guilty of the charge. Your lawyer will speak to the court for you.

If you plead not guilty

If you plead not guilty you will have to come back to court on another day for your trial.

At the trial, the facts of the matter will be discussed and the court will make a decision on the case against you.

If you plead guilty or are found guilty

If you plead guilty or are found guilty, the President or magistrate will consider the appropriate punishment or penalty. A decision may not be made the same day.

If a report is requested by the court you will be assigned a Youth Justice Officer (YJO) to prepare the report. Your parent or guardian should attend the interview with you. The report will contain a brief history about you. The YJO will explain the punishment being considered by the Court.

The court may impose one of the following penalties:

  • referral to a youth justice team
  • no punishment and no conditions
  • no punishment but with conditions
  • fines, costs, restitution (putting back or repairing something) and compensation (paying for the damages)
  • responsible adult bond
  • good behaviour bond
  • youth community-based order
  • intensive youth supervision order
  • adult community-based order or adult intensive supervision order
  • custodial sentence (imprisonment or detention)

The Department of Corrective Services website has more information on types of sentences.

LINKS - Youth Mental Health Support Program

Under a partnership between the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Outcare Incorporated, the LINKS service supports young people in the Perth Children’s Court who struggle with their feelings and behaviour. 

They are a specialised youth mental health team that offers a free service to help young people with their mental health and psychosocial needs.

Last updated: 15-Sep-2020

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