Youth Diversion (Qld)

In Queensland, when a young person commits an offence, they can be charged and required to attend the Children’s Court. Alternatively, where it is appropriate, the matter can be dealt with through a diversionary program. These are ways for a young person to be held accountable for their actions without having to go through the formal justice system. This page deals with youth diversion in Queensland.

Legislation

Criminal offences committed by juveniles in Queensland are dealt with under the Youth Justice Act 1992. The Youth Justice Act 1992 contains the procedures for prosecuting a young person. It also requires the police to consider alternatives to prosecution such as restorative justice processes, cautions and drug diversion programs, and sets out the procedures for these alternatives.

Cautions

If a young person commits an offence and admits the offence, the police may issue a caution rather than prosecuting them. If practicable, the police must arrange for a parent or another adult to be present when the young person is cautioned.

If appropriate, a young person who is given a caution may be required to apologise to the victim of the offence.

Graffiti removal program

Under section 379A of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000, when a young person over 12 is investigated for a graffiti offence and admits the offence during the interview, the police may offer them the opportunity to take part in a graffiti removal program instead of going to court. If the program is not completed satisfactorily, the young person may be charged with an offence.

Restorative justice processes

If a young person admits committing an offence, the police may refer the matter for a restorative justice process. This may occur only if the young person is willing to comply and the police consider that the matter is not suitable for a caution or for prosecution, and the referral is a more appropriate way of dealing with the matter.   

A restorative justice process involves the young person meeting with victims of the offence to discuss what happened and the effects of the offence and to repair harm done to the victim. The meeting may also be attended by counsellors, police and legal representatives.

The convenor helps the participants to decide on an outcome that is acceptable to all of them and that helps to repair the harm caused by the child’s actions. Once an agreement has been reached, it must be signed by all parties.

If a child does not comply with a restorative justice agreement, the police may administer a caution, refer the young person to another restorative justice process, take no action, or start proceedings for the offence.

Drug diversion for youth

In Queensland, an adult or a young person who is guilty of a minor drug offence may be eligible for a drug diversion program. There are both court-ordered drug diversion and police drug diversion programs in Queensland. These are ways for an offender to receive some education about drug use and avoid going through the formal sentencing process and getting a criminal record.

Court diversion

A young person who is charged with minor offences involving drug possession may be eligible to participate in court diversion if they admit the offence. A young person who attends court for a minor drug possession offence may speak to a court diversion officer about the drug diversion program. If they are found to be eligible, their court matter will be adjourned for a period during which they must be of good behaviour and attend a drug education and information session.

If the young person completed the program and does not commit an offence, the order ends and no conviction is recorded against them. If they do complete the program or if they commit another offence, they may be brough back before the court for the original offence and resentenced.

Police diversion

A young person who is investigated for a minor drug offence may be eligible for drug diversion depending on their prior history.

If a young person is accepted in police drug diversion, they will be required to attend a combined assessment, education and counselling session about the effects of illicit drugs.

Police can only offer drug diversion once. If the person is apprehended again for a minor drug offence, they will not be offered police drug diversion.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

Author

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
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