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Crimes committed by children

Information for victims of youth crime

Police and the courts must consider many things in deciding how to deal with a young person who has committed a crime.

The Young Offenders Act makes available a number of options, such as:

  • issuing a warning
  • cautioning the young person in the presence of their parent(s)/guardian(s),
  • referring the young person to a young justice conference at which victims are invited to attend to talk about how the crime has affected them

For more information please refer to
Information for victims of youth crime (PDF, 156Kb)
Information for victims of youth crime (PDF, 121Kb)
(A4 version)

Statements of harm

Where a young offender is to be cautioned, the victim may prepare a written 'statement of harm' to be read to the young offender.

For more information please refer to
Statements of Harm (Young Offenders Act 1997) Information guide (PDF, 106Kb)
(A4 sheet)

Very young offenders and the law

Children aged under 10 years

By legislation, no child aged under 10 years of age can be charged for a criminal offence.

Children aged under 14 years

Under common law, the presumption of doli incapax ("incapable of wrong") applies to children aged under 14. The prosecution must establish beyond reasonable doubt that the child understood that their act was "seriously wrong". For example, it was criminal as opposed to merely 'naughty'.

See also
Children's Court website