About the Youth Courts

The Youth Court is a specialist division of the District Court.

Young people aged between 14 and 17 who commit offences (and sometimes 12 and 13 if their offending is particularly serious) will be directed to a Youth Court rather than the District or High Court. Youth Courts deal with all offending committed by young people other than murder, manslaughter and traffic offending. 17-year olds who commit serious offences (called “Schedule 1A” offences) will first appear in the Youth Court before being transferred to the District Court or High Court. The Youth Court operates in a less formal manner than the adult courts.

Most children and young people who offend will not come to the Youth Court but will be subject to police alternative action and diversion. Where offending is particularly serious or repetitive, children and young people will first appear in the physical court, at which time a Family Group Conference will be directed. In a Family Group Conference, the young person, their family, the victim, a youth justice co-ordinator, member/s of the police and any other relevant professionals meet to discuss the offending, the effect this has had on all involved and a possible plan to address it. The young person will then report back to the Youth Court with the plan. The Youth Court Judge will nearly always approve the plan and the Court will then oversee that the young person carries it out properly.

In cases of serious offending, the Youth Court can direct an offender to custody in a youth justice residence, or be transferred to the District Court to consider a prison sentence.

For more information about the Youth Court — including the Family Group Conference process — please visit the Youth Court website.

Please note that Youth Court hearings are closed to the public, except for media organisations. No Youth Court decision may be published without the permission of the Judge, and no identifying details of the young person may ever be made public.