If you are a parent or guardian of an under-age child who has been charged with an offence in the Children’s Court, we can help your child get a second chance.
Our Extensive Experience Working with Young Persons
Peter O’Brien has been recognised as a leader in representing children and young people. He has received an Australian Award from the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre for excellence in representing people in the Children’s Court. He represented former youth detainee Dylan Voller and many other children in the Royal Commission into Children in Juvenile Detention in the Northern Territory.
O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors provide outstanding legal advice and representation to ensure our juvenile clients get the best result in court. Our criminal defence lawyers have extensive experience in Children’s Court matters and have assisted many young people charged with criminal offences. Read more about our successful case studies involving young persons here.
Our lawyers also participated in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse. Our commitment to the protection of the rights of under-age children and those who were offended against as children is unparalleled.
What is the Children’s Court?
The Children’s Court deals with criminal offences committed by children aged over 10 and under 18 years. The age of criminal responsibility is the same across all states and territories in Australia.
The Children’s Court also deals with:
- traffic cases where the defendant is not old enough to hold a driver’s licence or permit,
- applications for Apprehended Violence Orders on a child,
- applications for Compulsory Schooling Orders where a child or young person has not been attending school, and
- breaches of parole and the eligibility of children and young people for release on parole.
The Children’s Court also deals with family law matters relating to children. We do not handle these, as we are a specialist criminal defence law firm. However, we can refer you to lawyers who have family law as their practice area.
Doli Incapax – Rebuttal Presumption
Doli incapax acts as a rebuttal presumption for children aged at least 10 but less than 14 in all jurisdictions across Australia. Doli incapax refers to a presumption that a child is “incapable of crime” under legislation or common law. This presumption means the child did not have a sufficient understanding between “right and wrong.”
To rebut the presumption, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the child knew their act was seriously wrong “as distinct from an act of mere naughtiness or childish mischief.”
Principles relating to Criminal Proceedings of Children
Under section 6 of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987, the principles relating to the criminal proceedings of children include:
- Children have rights and freedoms before the law equal to those enjoyed by adults, and in particular, a right to be heard, and a right to participate, in the processes that lead to decisions that affect them
- Children who commit offences bear responsibility for their actions, but, because of their state of dependency and immaturity, require guidance and assistance
- It is desirable, wherever possible, to allow the education or employment of a child to proceed without interruption
- It is desirable, wherever possible, to allow a child to reside in his or her own home
- The penalty imposed on a child for an offence should be no greater than that imposed on an adult who commits an offence of the same kind
- It is desirable that children who commit offences be assisted with their reintegration into the community so as to sustain family and community ties
- It is desirable that children who commit offences accept responsibility for their actions and, wherever possible, make reparation for their actions
- Subject to the other principles described, consideration should be given to the effect of any crime on the victim.
Our seasoned criminal defence solicitors understand how to assist children caught up in the law and treat every case with confidentiality and sensitivity. We make an intimidating process easier for everyone. We have particular experience with members of marginalised communities, such as indigenous peoples and refugees, and are aware of their unique circumstances.
Please contact us on (02) 9261 4281 if you are in need of legal advice or representation from a lawyer experienced in dealing with young persons. Alternatively, you can leave us a message through our online contact form.