Legal Services

Children’s Court in Victoria

Children’s Court Lawyers in Melbourne

If your child has been charged with a criminal offence in Victoria, our expert lawyers are here to help. We have years of experience advising and representing clients in the Children’s Court and can help you secure the best possible outcome for your child.

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The Children’s Court of Melbourne, Victoria

The criminal division of the Children’s Court in Melbourne deals with offences committed by children between the ages of 10 and 17. However, if the child turns 18 before the charges are dealt with, the Children’s Court can hear the case up until the offender’s 19th birthday. Once the child turns 19, the matter must be heard in an adult court.

The Children’s Court can deal with all criminal charges, except for the most serious indictable offences, which must be tried in either the County Court or Supreme Court. Indictable charges that cannot be tried in the Children’s Court include:

  • Murder
  • Attempted murder;
  • Manslaughter;
  • Child homicide;
  • Arson causing death; and
  • Culpable driving causing death.

There are numerous Children’s Court locations throughout metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.

The Melbourne Children’s Court differs from the adult courts of Victoria in regard to sentencing principles. In adult courts, there is a focus on punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation. However, in the Children’s Court, the key focus is rehabilitation (under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic)).

For this reason, the Children’s Court has many options when it comes to sentencing a child found guilty of committing a criminal offence. The Court does not wish to negatively affect the child’s education, potential to find future work, or family life.

It is important to obtain expert legal advice in any criminal matter before the Children’s Court. An experienced criminal lawyer is key to achieving the best possible outcome. In many cases, it is possible to achieve a non-conviction if the right legal strategy is implemented.

If your child has been charged with a criminal offence, please contact Sher Criminal Lawyers immediately. Our expert lawyers specialise in criminal matters before the Children’s Court. We use proven legal strategies to secure the best possible outcome in each case. Years of experience in the Children’s Court means that we have an extensive understanding of the specific principles that apply in these complex matters. We pride ourselves on securing outstanding results and giving children a second chance in life.

Procedure in the Children’s Court of Victoria

If your child has been charged with a criminal offence, it is important to understand the legal process that they may face. The Children’s Court is unique and there are many things your family must consider before the matter is heard.

Our specialist team at Sher Criminal Lawyers is extensively experienced in matters before the Children’s Court. If your child needs help, please contact us immediately. One of our experienced Children’s Court criminal lawyers will expertly guide their case through every stage of proceedings. Our expert knowledge and experience are vital in securing the best possible outcome for your child.

There may be several complex stages of case preparation and legal procedure in regard to matters before the Children’s Court, including:

  • Police Questioning and Interview
  • Mention
  • Contest Mention
  • Contested Hearing
  • Committal Hearing (for the most serious criminal charges)

If your child pleads guilty to criminal charges before the Melbourne Children’s Court, their matter may be heard and finalised in one day. In this case, the Court will impose the penalty that it deems appropriate upon your child during the first mention.

However, if your child pleads not guilty, the prosecution must prove each element of the relevant offence beyond a reasonable doubt during the contested hearing. The prosecutions failure to do so will result in the defendant being found not guilty of that charge.

Sentencing Principles in the Children’s Court of Victoria

The Melbourne Children’s Court differs from the adult courts of Victoria in regard to sentencing principles. In adult courts, there is a focus on punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation. However, in the Children’s Court, the key focus is just rehabilitation (under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic)).

Therefore, the Children’s Court has many options when it comes to sentencing a child found guilty of committing a criminal offence. The Court does not wish to negatively impact upon the child’s education, potential to find future work or family life.

If the Children’s Court finds a child guilty of a criminal offence, the Court may:

  • Dismiss the charge without conviction;
  • Dismiss the charge without conviction and order the child to give an undertaking;
  • Order the child to give an accountable undertaking without conviction;
  • Place the child on a good behaviour bond without conviction;
  • Impose a fine with or without conviction;
  • Place the child on probation with or without conviction;
  • Release the child on a youth supervision order with or without conviction;
  • Convict the child and make a youth attendance order;
  • Convict the child and order that the child be detained in a youth residential centre, or
  • Convict the child and order that the child be detained in a youth justice centre.

When deciding upon an appropriate sentence, the Children’s Court takes the following considerations into account:

  • Any of the child’s previous convictions;
  • Any report, submission or evidence given on behalf of the child;
  • Any victim impact statements;
  • The child’s family relationship;
  • The contents of any report requested by the Court;
  • The suitability of the sentence to the child; and
  • The need to protect the community.

Sentencing in the Children’s Court of Victoria

The Children’s Court has many options when it comes to sentencing a child found guilty of committing a criminal offence.

 

 

 

The child participates in a diversion plan which includes a range of activities designed to reduce the likelihood of further offending. Upon successful completion of the diversion plan, the charges against the child are dismissed. Youth diversion is targeted toward children and young people who:

  • Are charged with a low-level offence/s;
  • Have little or no criminal history; and
  • Would otherwise be sentenced to an outcome that does not require supervision by the youth justice service.

The child is required to complete a program with the informant police officer. This takes place at a challenge ropes or rock-climbing facility and promotes teamwork, encouragement and trust. Once the program is complete, the matter is discharged and no conviction is recorded. The program is only available to children who live in the catchment area of a participating court, are recommended for the course by the police, and:

  • Have committed a summary offence;
  • Have no prior convictions; and
  • Admit to their offending.

An undertaking made by the child or the parent, usually lasting 6 months, to refrain from act or acts specified by the Court.

An undertaking made by the child or the parent, usually lasting 6 months, to refrain from act or acts specified by the Court. If the undertaking is breached, the Court will require that the defendant is brought back before the Court. The Court may then cancel, vary or continue the undertaking. The Court may also revoke the undertaking.
The child is released on the promise that they will be of good behaviour. The bond may also include certain conditions that the child must abide by.

Children under the age of 15 are liable for a fine of up to approximately $165. Children 15 years or older are liable for a fine of up to approximately $825.

 

The Court may impose certain conditions upon the child such as residing at a specific address or attending school. The child is assigned to a Youth Justice Officer who manages the supervision and support of the child for the duration of the order.

A more intensive form of probation that may require the child to undertake unpaid community work.

A more intensive form of a Youth Supervision Order. It is a direct alternative to a custodial order and requires up to 10 hours a week of regular and highly structured support and supervision from a Youth Justice Officer. It also mandates up to 4 hours a week of unpaid community work.

If a child has been given previous opportunities and breached probation, supervision orders or attendance orders, the Children’s Court may resort to imposing a term of imprisonment. The type of custody order that the Court makes will depend on the age of the child:

  • Children aged 10-14 years: liable to a Youth Residential Centre Order for a maximum term of 2 years if sentenced by the Children’s Court; or 3 years if sentenced by the County or Supreme Court.
  • Young people aged 15-20 years: liable to a Youth Justice Centre Order for a maximum term of 3 years if sentenced by the County or Supreme Court.

Whilst detained, children or young people must attend schooling and participate in programs that are aimed at reducing the risk of reoffending. If good behaviour is demonstrated, the child or young person may become eligible for Youth Parole.

What to Do if Your Child is Charged With a Crime in Melbourne or Victoria

The legal procedure in the Children’s Court is unique. This is why it is important to obtain expert advice from a criminal lawyer who is extensively experienced and understands the sentencing principles that apply to children within the Children’s Court.

Our expert team at Sher Criminal Lawyers has years of experience advising and representing children before the Children’s Court of Victoria. We are here to help you protect your child’s rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your family.

If your child has been charged or is under investigation for a criminal offence, please contact Sher Criminal Lawyers immediately. Our specialist Children’s Court lawyers are available 24/7 and offer free consultations by way of Zoom, Facetime or in person at our Melbourne and Moorabbin offices.

 

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