Sentences for children aim to help them rehabilitate.
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According to the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, in sentencing young offenders, the main goal is their rehabilitation. It’s different to sentencing adults. In sentencing adults, Victorian courts need to focus on punishment and deterrence as well as rehabilitation.
Types of sentences
If the court finds a young person guilty of an offence, the court may:
- without conviction, dismiss the charge
- without conviction, dismiss the charge and order the young person give an accountable or non-accountable undertaking
- without conviction, place the child on a good behaviour bond
- with or without conviction, impose a fine
- with or without conviction, place the child on probation
- with or without conviction, make a youth supervision order
- convict the child and make a youth attendance order
- convict the child and make a youth control order
- convict the child and order that the child be detained in a youth residential centre
- convict the child and order that the child be detained in a youth justice centre.
In deciding what an appropriate sentence is, the magistrate must consider things like:
- the child’s relationship with their family
- any reports requested by the court
- how the sentence suits the child
- the need to protect the community.
The magistrate may also consider a range of other factors, such as:
- whether the child has been found guilty of any offence in the past
- any report, submission or evidence given on behalf of the child
- any victim impact statement.
Young people on community-based orders or in custody are supervised by the Youth Justice staff from the Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS).
Deferral of sentencing
The magistrate may consider not giving a sentence immediately. This is called deferring a sentence.
This is usually done in the best interests of the young person. It allows them to take steps to address the issues that led to the offending behaviour. It may also be done to allow the person to participate in a group conference.
If the magistrate decides to defer sentencing, they may do so for up to four months. The case will be adjourned to another date, and there may be an order for a pre-sentence report to be done.
At the end of the deferral period, the magistrate will give a sentencing order. The sentence will take into account any progress the person may have made during the deferral period.