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Appearing in the Children's Court

If a young person, aged from 10-17 years, has been charged with an offence, they will typically appear in the Children's Court.

When the young person is charged with an offence or arrested by police, they may:

  • be given a notice by a police officer to go to court at a specific date and time
  • be arrested and released on bail
  • be arrested and transferred to Banksia Hill Detention Centre until they appear in court.

If a young person receives a notice to go to court, it is very important they appear at the right time, date and place or they may be arrested by police. It is also important the young person gets legal advice before their court appearance from either an independent lawyer, Legal Aid, the Aboriginal Legal Services or Youth Legal Services.

Young people should only be placed in custody as a last option, so in most cases, it is recommended the magistrates give a young person bail.

Bail is a written promise a person makes to attend court on a certain day and at a particular time. This means a young person does not have to be held in a detention centre while they wait to go to court.

Three types of bail are available to young people:

  • Surety - which requires the young person or their parents to pay an amount of money as security that the young person will return to appear in court.
  • Personal bail - available only to people aged 17 years and above who hold a full-time job and do not have a history of offending.
  • Bail undertaking by a responsible person - a responsible adult, (usually the parent) takes responsibility for the young person. The responsible adult should give the young person somewhere to live, encourage them to attend school and make sure they go to court. If the young person fails to attend court, the adult can be arrested. Most young people are released on this form of bail.

Supervised bail

In many cases, the Department cannot find an adult to take responsibility for the young person. This may be because of a broken family life, families being 'fed up' with the behaviour of the young person, or welfare issues. In these cases, the Department may recommend Supervised Bail (PDF 122 KB).

In a Supervised Bail arrangement, the Department takes responsibility for the young person but does not keep them in custody. The young person may return to their family, live in a youth hostel or go to a home-treatment program while they are waiting to go to court.

The Department will develop a set of rules the young person must follow if they want to stay out of a detention centre. This is known as a behavioural contract. The contract may include the young person promising to go to school regularly, avoiding certain places or looking seriously for a job. If the young person goes back to their family, the Department can also provide services and support to the family.

In 2008, some 608 young people were released on Supervised Bail which saved them from spending a total of 17,501 days in custody.

Children's Court Drug Court

Young people whose offending behaviour is linked to drug use and who are willing to confront their drug use and make a positive choice, can apply to be a participant in the Children’s Court Drug Court.

The Department's Youth Justice Court Assessment and Treatment Services (CATS) Officers assess applicants on their suitability to take part in a Children's Court Drug Court program.

If the court accepts that advice, a Youth Justice CATS Officer then helps the young person get their treatment, supports them through the process and keeps in touch to see how they are going.

The programs available through the court are the Youth Supervised Treatment Intervention Regime (YSTIR) and Drug Court Regime (DCR).

Rights and responsibilities of parents

Parents and guardians have an important job when a young person goes to court. They can support the young person and give information to the court.

The parent or guardian should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. If the parent or guardian wants to say something in court, they should tell court staff before the session starts.

The court may ask for a report from a youth justice officer so that they have more information about the young person's situation and their history of offending. Parents can also attend this interview with the youth justice officer.

Page last updated: 17-Oct-2016