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Young people & the law


For most young people, dealing with the police and the courts can be a stressful and worrying experience.

How old must I be before I can be charged with an offence?

The age of criminal responsibility in WA is 10 years old. This means if you are 10 or older, and you commit a criminal offence, you can be charged by the police and convicted in court.

Between the ages of 10 and 14 years old, the police must prove in court that you understood you were doing the wrong thing. 

If you are over 14 years old, the law says you can be held responsible for your actions, even if you didn't actually know that you were doing the wrong thing or were breaking the law.

What can happen if I commit an offence?

The law understands that young people make mistakes and sometimes don't think through the consequences of their actions.

If you are under 18 years old and break the law, the police can sometimes choose to give you a caution, or refer you to a Juvenile Justice Team instead of charging you with a criminal offence.

If the police do charge you with a criminal offence for something you did when you were under 18, the charge will be dealt with in the Children's Court. The court will decide whether or not you are guilty and what the sentence or punishment should be if you are convicted. There are a range of sentencing options available to the court.