Use this procedure when arranging legal representation for a young person due to appear before a court in a criminal proceeding.


When to use this procedure

When a young person needs help to access legal representation.


Practice context and legislation

  • A young person charged with a criminal offence is entitled to be legally represented by a solicitor or barrister as per s. 524 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.
  • The role of the legal representative is to:
    • communicate the young person's interests and wishes to the court
    • protect the young person's legal rights
    • ensure the young person receives due process
    • make recommendations to the court in relation to the sentencing of the young person.
  • The legal representative takes instructions from the young person and advises them of their responsibilities. As per s. 524(10) of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, the legal representative must 'act in accordance with any instructions given or wishes expressed by the child in so far as it is practicable to do so having regard to the maturity of the child.'
  • Youth justice ensures a young person has legal representation and relevant information.
  • If the court orders a pre-sentence report from youth justice, this must be provided to the legal representative.
  • Youth justice workers are bound by confidentiality rules when providing information to legal representatives. Refer to the procedure for 'Privacy and information exchange' for more information.

Roles and key tasks

Youth justice court advice worker

  • Ensure that a young person defending a criminal proceeding has legal representation and encourage them to consult with their legal representative.
  • Share relevant information with the legal representative, with the young person’s permission.

Team leader / Team manager

Consult with and supervise the youth justice court advice worker, particularly in relation to young people exhibiting high-risk behaviour.


The procedure in detail

Arranging legal representation for a young person

Ensure a young person defending a criminal justice proceeding knows they are entitled to receive legal representation.

If a young person does not have a privately funded lawyer, tell them they can apply for legal aid and help them access this if required.

You should maintain a current list of local legal aid telephone numbers, service providers and addresses for this purpose.

Tell the young person that the court may adjourn their hearing so that legal representation can be organised.

Where possible, help the young person to meet with their lawyer before attending court.

Encourage the young person to consult with their legal representative, and to raise any questions they have.

Where a young person must have legal representation

A young person must have legal representation in matters which:

  • will require them to advocate for their release on bail or defend against an application to remand
  • relate to a charge punishable by imprisonment
  • relate to the review of a monetary penalty for an offence punishable, in the case of an adult (magistrates’ court), by imprisonment
  • will require them to defend a breach of an order imposed by the court for an offence punishable, in the case of an adult (magistrates’ court), by imprisonment.

Communication between youth justice and the legal representative

The youth justice worker can provide a young person's legal representative with information relevant to the young person's case.

Youth justice must forward a copy of the pre-sentence report to the young person and their legal representative three working days before the court hearing.

Discuss with the legal representative any potential diversionary options available to the young person and any recommendations youth justice will submit to the court.

Do not disclose confidential information about a young person to the legal representative.

The young person's right to confidentiality is a critical part of case practice.

If you are unsure whether information should be given or withheld, talk to your line manager before disclosing the information.

Information sharing with legal representatives

The legal representative will gather information to support their client’s case in court.

Be mindful of the information you give to the young person’s legal representative before entering the court. No information is provided ‘off the record’.

The legal representative may refer to, or relay, any information to the magistrate, and youth justice may be examined in relation to it.

Attendance at court – young person

If a young person is in a youth justice precinct and is given leave to attend court, the youth justice worker must tell the legal representative.

If the young person is being transported to court by the prisoner transport service, it is the role of youth justice precinct staff to organise this transport and ensure that relevant documentation has been provided.

Refer to the 'Youth justice custodial practice manual' for further information.

It is important to provide outreach support, where practicable, to the young person if they require assistance to attend court.

Attendance at court – young person’s family/other supports

Youth justice can provide support to a young person’s family at court by explaining court processes and implications of sentencing outcomes.

There are youth justice fact sheets for all statutory orders that can be provided to a young person’s family or other supports.

Youth justice is not expected to transport family members to or from court but may negotiate to assist in certain circumstances.

Attendance at court – youth justice

It is expected that a youth justice worker will attend court to support a young person they are case managing.

If the case manager cannot attend court, another worker from the team should attend.

While Youth Justice Court Advice Service (YJCAS) staff may be able to provide support in these circumstances, their primary role is to provide advice to the court.

Arrive at court with enough time to allow the young person to talk to their lawyer before the hearing starts.

Take to court any reports or other documents which may be required at the hearing.

Notes relating to information contained in hardcopy files can be taken to court, but hardcopy files should not be taken to court.

Obligations of the legal representative

It is the duty of the legal representative to ensure that the young person's instructions and wishes are conveyed to the court.

It is important that the young person knows and understands the information the legal representative intends to submit to the court.

After court

If a young person has attended court escorted by a youth justice worker, the worker must obtain a record of the court order and check that the record is correct.

Make sure the young person understands the order that has been made, the effect of the order and their obligations under the order.

Explain any comments made by the court during the hearing (for example, reasons for ordering a particular sentence or special condition on an order), or any rehabilitative programs in which the young person is expected to participate.

The young person's legal representative will also discuss the order and its consequences with the young person after court.