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The Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 ('the Act') governs criminal and traffic law proceedings for individuals under 18 years old in New South Wales.   According to Section 5 of the Act, individuals under 10 years old cannot be held accountable for offences. This is known as the age of criminal responsibility.   Under Section 28(1) of the Act, the Children's Court has jurisdiction over the following issues if the defendant was under 18 at the time of the alleged offence and under 21 at the time of being charged: 1. Proceedings for most offences, except for 'serious children’s indictable offences.' 2. Committal proceedings for any offence.   A 'serious children’s indictable offence' includes:

  • Homicide.
  • Aggravated sexual assault under section 61J of the Crimes Act, or an attempt to commit such an offence, unless the complainant was under 16.
  • Assault with intent to engage in sexual intercourse under section 61K of the Crimes Act, or an attempt to commit such an offence.
  • Manufacturing or selling firearms under the Firearms Act 1996, with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
  • Offences punishable by 25 years or life imprisonment.
  • Other offences specified as 'serious children’s indictable offences' by regulations.
  Cases involving these offences are heard in adult courts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the options below to learn the answers to frequently asked questions about Children's Court Jurisdiction

The Children’s Court has jurisdiction over traffic offences involving individuals below the legal driving age or when linked to criminal charges. Other traffic violations by individuals under 18 years old are under the authority of the Local Court.

However, according to subsection 28(2), the Children’s Court can handle traffic offences if:

  • They are connected to another offence being tried, or
  • The person was underage for obtaining a license or permit during the alleged offence.

Various legislations encompass traffic offences such as:

  •  Road transport laws;
  •  The Roads Act 1993;
  •  Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999;
  •  Motor Vehicles (Third Party Insurance) Act 1942; and Recreation Vehicles Act 1983

These cover actions like drunk driving, driving with prohibited substances, driving while disqualified, and reckless or aggressive driving.

Section 29 of the Act outlines procedures when a minor faces charges alongside an adult outside the Children’s Court’s jurisdiction. The court can either delay the minor’s case until the co-defendant’s trial concludes or proceed independently, considering factors like the minor’s preference, bail status, justice principles, and expected adjournment duration.

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