The Children's Court has powers regarding parole that are similar to those of the State Parole Authority. It can deal with breaches of parole by most young people. It can also decide when to release a person who is serving a sentence of greater than three years in a detention centre. These powers can only be exercised by commissioned children's magistrates and not by other magistrates.
For certain offences, a child or young person can be sentenced to time in custody (a control order). This sentence usually consists of some time in custody (non-parole period) and some time out of custody (parole period).
When a young person is released to parole he or she has a number of obligations called parole conditions. Some of them are standard and are conditions of every parole order. Others are imposed by the Court at the time of sentence.
A standard condition is that the young person is to be of good behaviour, which means that no further offences are to be committed. A condition often imposed by the Court is that the young person is to accept supervision of either Juvenile Justice or the Community Offender Service.
For sentences of a total length of three years or less the young person is released to parole on a date decided by the court at the time of sentencing.
For sentences of a total length of greater than three years the young person is not automatically released to parole on the date decided by the court.
If the young person does not keep one or more of the conditions of parole he or she is said to have breached his or her parole.The breach may be reported by either:
When a children's magistrate becomes aware of the reported breach of parole, the children’s magistrate will decide whether to either:
The children’s magistrate will have documents including a report from Juvenile Justice or the Community Offender Service about the young person, including how they have behaved during their parole period, and information about any fresh charge that is said to breach parole.
A lawyer appears on behalf of Juvenile Justice. This lawyer presents the evidence regarding the breach as well as recommendations concerning the parole order.
A lawyer can appear for the young person and present the young person's case about:
The lawyer may ask the magistrate to release the young person on a further parole order rather than requiring the young person to serve the remaining time in custody.
The children’s magistrate can deal with the case on the first day or adjourn the matter to another date so that more information can be gained. If the magistrate confirms that the young person has breached their parole the magistrate may decide to either:
When a young person serving a sentence in a detention centre is near the end of their non-parole period, a children’s magistrate will decide whether and when they will be released on parole. The magistrate receives reports prepared by Juvenile Justice including:
Lawyers from the Children’s Legal Service or Aboriginal Legal Service will appear on behalf of any child or young person who is not privately represented. This is provided free of charge.
All matters in the Children's Court, including parole matters, are dealt with in a closed court. Only lawyers, Juvenile Justice officers and family or other people supporting the young person are able to attend the court.
Parole matters are only dealt with at the Parramatta Children's Court, 2 George Street, Parramatta.
Children's Legal Service (CLS) can represent all children and young people before the Children’s Court who are not privately represented.
CLS is part of NSW Legal Aid. The Youth Hotline number is 1800 101 810. The general enquiry line is 1300 888 529.
Aboriginal Legal Service operates similarly to the CLS but appear on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. To contact this service, phone 1800 765 76.
Juvenile Justice officers are social welfare workers who guide and supervise young people who are required to be supervised as a result of a sentence, including a parole order. Their adult counterpart is the Probation and Parole Service (which includes the Community Offender Service). Both agencies prepare reports for court regarding the background and circumstances of the young person, possible reasons for them committing certain offences and plans aimed at assisting the young person and preventing reoffending.