About the Youth Courts

The Youth Courts are a division of the District Courts.

Young people aged between 14 and 16 who commit offences (and sometimes 12 and 13 if their offending is particularly serious) will be directed to a Youth Court rather than a District or High Court. Youth Courts deal with all offending committed by young people other than murder, manslaughter and traffic offending. The Youth Courts operate in a less formal manner than the adult courts.

While young people will first appear in the physical court, most important decisions are made at a Family Group Conference. 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 sentence an offender to custody in a youth justice residence, or be transferred to a 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.