Penalties given by a court

Most criminal matters against a young person under 18 are dealt with in the Youth Court.  Only very serious crimes (like murder) are dealt with in the District or Supreme Court.

Below, we list the different penalties that may be given by the Youth Court.

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Referral to police or family conference

The Youth Court might decide to refer you back to the police to get a formal police caution or to family conference, if they think this will be more appropriate than a different penalty.


A fine is when the Court orders you to pay a certain amount of money because you have committed an offence. The maximum fine the Youth Court can give you is $2500 per offence.

Before making you pay any money, the Court will normally look at whether you have a job, how much money you have and what amount you can afford to pay.

Give money to the victim

The Youth Court might also order you to pay money to your victim. These sorts of orders might include:

  • Costs – this is when the victim has been hurt in some way and you need to pay for what they have had to do to get better (an example is if they have had any medical expenses)
  • Restitution – when you pay to get someone back into the position they were in before your actions (for example if you graffiti a wall you will need to pay someone to paint over it)
  • Compensation – when you give some money for the trouble you have caused someone (for example giving them money for the time they lost being hurt by your actions)

Community service order

A community service order involves the young person doing unpaid work for the community. This will normally be for a local charity or community organisation, if these organisations have a place for you. Community service work might involve helping sick, elderly or physically disabled people.

The Youth Court can order you to do community service for a period of up to 500 hours, for no longer than 18 months.

If you don’t do the work the court has told you to do, then you will have to go back to Court where they may increase the number of hours of community service you have to do. Alternatively, the court may cancel your community service and give you a fine or something more serious such as detention.


Court ordered obligations

The Court may decide that requiring you to complete certain obligations is most appropriate. This is basically an agreement between you and the Court that you will follow certain conditions made by the Court. This agreement can be for up to 3 years. Some examples of conditions that the court might require you to follow are that you have to be home every night by 7pm (curfew), go to school for a certain number of days a year or live where the Court tells you to live. The court may also get you to participate in different courses, such as anger management or drug and alcohol counselling.

If you don’t follow all of the conditions or are brought back before the Court for getting in trouble, you could be fined up to $2500 or sentenced to detention for 6 months, or both.

Delayed detention

Sometimes the Court will sentence you to a ‘suspended’ detention order. This means that although the Court has ordered you to spend time in a youth training centre, the Court has delayed this from happening in order to allow you to show the Court that you are capable of good behaviour and staying out of trouble. You will be able to live within the community and won’t have to live in detention. If this happens you will have to follow court ordered obligations (talked about above). This means you may have to follow conditions on going to school, not drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs, being home every night by a certain time (curfew), or attending medical, mental or drug counselling.

To get a delayed detention order is a very serious thing and the police will strictly enforce and monitor your order. If you break any of the conditions of your agreement or are caught doing something else by the police, the Court might decide to send you to detention for the entire time they were originally going to send you for.


To get a detention order you must have done something very serious or had many chances with the Court to stay out of trouble. If the Court decides that you’ve done something so serious that none of the other penalties should apply, the Court can detain you in a youth training centre for a maximum period of three years. Alternatively, the Court can give you home detention for a maximum period of six months.

While in detention at home or at a youth training centre, you may be required to attend school, play sports or attend programs on alcohol, drugs, or anger management.

Licence Disqualification

The Court might also disqualify your drivers’ licence. If you do not hold a current drivers licence, then this may mean you are prevented from getting one for a period of time.

If you’re under 25 and you’ve been accused of a crime and want to know what could happen, please contact us here and we can give you free advice and information. Everything you tell us will be kept confidential.

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