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Sentencing juveniles

Sentencing juveniles


Any decision by a Children's Court on what to do with a young person found guilty of an offence is limited by the sentencing options which are available to the court. Sentencing hierarchies have been established in most legislation, setting out the available penalties in order of severity with the aim of promoting the use of non-custodial options and to reinforce the use of detention as a sentence of last resort.

Sentencing options, by state and territory

Australian Capital Territory

Children and Young People Act 1999

  • Charge dismissed (s 99)
  • Impose fine (s101)
  • Community service order (s 106)
  • Attendance order (s110)
  • Residential order (s 114)
  • Compensation (s 113)
  • Remand

New South Wales

Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 (s 33)

  • Dismiss charge and administer caution
  • Release on good behaviour
  • Impose fine
  • Refer to conference
  • Release on probation
  • Community service work
  • Commit to detention centre

Northern Territory

Juvenile Justice Act 1983 (s 53)

  • Discharge without penalty
  • Adjourn matter for 6 months
  • Impose a fine
  • Release on good behaviour (subject to conditions)
  • Participation in program
  • Release on probation
  • Community service work
  • Disqualify driver's license
  • Order detention


Juvenile Justice Act 1993 (Part 5)

  • Refer to community conference
  • Refer to drug assessment and education session
  • Reprimand
  • Good behaviour
  • Fine
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Detention
  • Other orders - restitution or compensation

South Australia

Young Offenders Act 1993 (Division 3)

  • Same sentencing powers as Magistrates and District Court
  • Impose fine
  • Community service
  • Release under supervision
  • Participation in specified programs
  • Release on undertaking by guardian
  • Home detention
  • Detain to Training Centre


Youth Justice Act 1997 (Part 4)

  • Refer to community conference
  • Dismiss charge
  • Dismiss charge and reprimand
  • Dismiss charge on undertaking of good behaviour
  • Adjourn proceedings and release on conditions
  • Impose fine
  • Probation order
  • Community service order
  • Detention order
  • Other orders - restitution or compensation


Child and Young Persons Act 1989 (s 137)

  • Dismiss charge
  • Dismiss charge and order undertaking
  • Dismiss charge and release on good behaviour bond
  • Impose fine
  • Place on probation
  • Release on Youth Supervision order
  • Release and make a Youth Attendance order
  • Convict to residential or training centre
  • Restitution or compensation
  • Impose any other disqualification

Western Australia

Young Offenders Act 1994 (Part 7)

  • Compensation or restitution (s 56)
  • Court may refrain from imposing any punishment (s 66)
  • Release on undertaking (s 67)
  • Release on undertaking of good behaviour (s 69)
  • Release on security by guardian (s 70)
  • Impose fines (s 71)
  • Youth community based order (s 73), including attendance, community work and supervision condition orders
  • Intensive youth supervision order (s 98)
  • Custodial sentence (sentence of last resort) (s 120)

Sentencing principles

Detention as a last resort

Does the legislation provide for detention to be used as a last resort?
JurisdictionLast resort?Governing Act
ACT Yes Children and Young People Act 1999, s 68(d)
NSW Yes Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987, s 33(2)
NT Yes Youth Justice Act 1992, s 81(6)
QLD Yes Juvenile Justice Act 1992, Sch 1(17)
SA Yes Young Offenders Act 1993, s 23(4)
TAS Yes Youth Justice Act 1997, s 5(1)(g) and s 80
VIC Yes Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, s 410(1)(c)
WA Yes Young Offenders Act 1993, s 120

Other resources