Court Support

Court Support- Checklist – click here to print

Section 72 of the Youth Justice Act 1992 requires that the young person and their parent/guardian understand “the nature of the alleged offence, the court’s procedures and the consequences of any Order made”.  It describes a number of steps that the court can take to ensure that the young person and their parent/guardian understand its processes and provides examples such as:

  • directly explaining these matters in court to the young person and parent.
  • having an appropriate person give an explanation.
  • having an interpreter or another person communicate effectively with the young person or the parent”.

A Youth Worker can play a vital role by effectively assisting and supporting young people in a number of ways through the court process.

Before Court

  • Assist the young person to seek legal advice prior to being interviewed by police.
  • Ensure the young person has a solicitor for court.
  • If the young person isn’t able to obtain legal advice and support prior to going to court – check there will be a duty lawyer at the court and assist the young person in seeing the duty lawyer on the day.
  • Ensure the young person knows where and when they are required to go to court.
  • Provide information about how to present at court (clean, tidy, on time).
  • Assist the young person to get to court by arranging transport.
  • Ensure the young person has had something to eat, has taken medication etc prior to court.
  • Check with the young person that they have all relevant information that is required for court (notices, references).
  • Ensure you have a notepad and pen to write down any relevant information that the young person may need at the end of court.
  • You may be waiting with the young person for a long time prior to getting into court.  Bring along some food and/or drink.

Explain the pre-court interview process

  • Ensure that the young person understands that their lawyer, including the duty lawyer, should act upon the young person’s instructions and wishes at all times.
  • Check with the young person whether they want you to be present in court.
  • If a young person has seen the duty lawyer, it is a good idea to check with the young person that they understand fully what will happen in court.   If not, ask the duty lawyer to explain again.
  • Ensure the young person’s solicitor/duty lawyer knows you are there to support the young person and has information about who you are, your role and the organisation you represent so that they are able to provide this information to the court.
  • With consent of the young person (including the level of detailed information you plan to provide), assist their solicitor/the duty lawyer with background information in making submissions to court and with bail applications.
  • If you have written a reference or court report for the young person, ensure you have three copies.  Provide these copies to the young person’s solicitor/duty lawyer.
  • If the young person is pleading guilty, explain the role of the court services officer interview process.
  • Provide information to the young person about who will be in court and the specific roles each person plays in the process (eg. Court Services Officer, Solicitor, Police Prosecutor, Magistrate).
  • Make sure that the young person understands what will happen in court, where to sit, when to stand and how to respond in court. (sit next to solicitor, no swinging on chairs, speak respectfully when spoken to, no smiling, treating the court process as serious).
  • Make sure your and the young person’s mobiles are switched off before you go into court.
  • Ensure caps, hats and sunglasses are removed before going into court.

In Court

  • Ensure that you present well in court and treat the process with respect.
  • If asked a question directly by the court, you should speak clearly and concisely and address the Magistrate/Judge as “Your Honour”.

After court

  • Confirm with the young person’s solicitor or court registry whether the young person is required to sign any documentation before leaving the court building.
  • Follow up support and referral options a few days after court.
  • Assist the young person to secure further legal representation (through a Community Legal Centre or Legal Aid) and offer support.

Provide further support and assistance to complete an order or comply with bail conditions.