Good Behaviour Orders under the Youth Justice Act (NT)
A young person being sentenced for offences under the Youth Justice Act 2005 may be sentenced to a number of different penalties. One of these is a Good Behaviour Order (GBO). A young person placed on a GBO must abide by certain conditions for a stipulated period. This article deals with Good Behaviour Orders in the NT.
How do Good Behaviour Orders work?
If a young person is sentenced to a Good Behaviour Order, they must not commit another offence and must abide by other specified conditions, for a period of up to two years.
If the young person obeys the conditions of the order and does not re-offend, there is no further penalty. If they breach the terms of the order, they may be resentenced for the original offence as well as being dealt with for the new offence.
Section 91 of the Youth Justice Act governs Good Behaviour Orders.
A GBO may specify the following:
- Where or with whom the young person must live;
- That the young person must follow the reasonable direction of a specified person, such as a parent;
- That the young person must refrain from certain activities or not have contact with certain people;
- That the young person be supervised by the Department of Corrections;
The order may also have any other conditions attached that the court considers appropriate.
The young person must sign the order to indicate that they accept its terms. A copy of the order must be given to the young person, their responsible adult (usually a parent or guardian who accompanies them to court) and to the Director of Corrections if supervision is required.
Breaches of good behaviour orders
If a young person commits another criminal offence while on a Good Behaviour Order, they must come back before the court in relation to the new offending and also be dealt with for the breach of the Good Behaviour Order.
If the young person is found to have breached the Good Behaviour Order, the court may resentence them in relation to the original offending. This may result in a harsher penalty being imposed, such as a fine, a Community Work Order or a term of detention.
Benefits of Good Behaviour Orders
Good Behaviour Orders are one of the most lenient penalties a court can impose. They often do not require the young person to do anything other than stay out of further trouble. They are commonly imposed when a young person has not been in previous trouble, when the level of offending is very low or when there are strong mitigating circumstances.
In the Youth Justice Court, mitigating circumstances may include factors like the young person was very young and committed the offence in company with older teenagers or that they played a minor role in the offending.
A young person’s lawyer will often advocate for their client to be sentenced to a good behaviour order as this avoids the need for the young person to comply with a more onerous penalty, such as a Community Work Order or a term of detention.
When will a good behaviour order not be imposed?
A Good Behaviour Order will not be imposed when the young person has been found guilty of an offence that carries a mandatory term of imprisonment. For example, if a young person is found guilty of an offence of breaching a DVO and has previously been found guilty of breaching a DVO, they must be ordered to serve at least seven days of detention unless this is not appropriate (section 122, Domestic and Family Violence Act 2007).
A good behaviour order is also unlikely to be imposed where a young person has been before the court on multiple previous occasions or where the offending is objectively serious or there are aggravating factors.
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