Your child may become involved in the criminal justice system by:
If the crime is sexual or physical abuse, once your child has disclosed to you or another adult they will be asked to attend what is known as a Child First Interview and Assessment where they will be interviewed by police and Department for Child Protection workers. This interview will be recorded and this becomes your child’s Visually Recorded Interview (VRI). You should be given a pamphlet which explains what happens after the interview.
If your child does not record a VRI, they may complete a written statement with the police. Learn more about police procedures.
Learn more about reporting a crime.
If your child has completed a Visually Recorded Interview, they will still need to be cross examined if the matter goes to trial.
For children who have been victims of abuse, following an interview, the police working with your family will let you know if criminal charges will be laid against the accused person. Your child may need to attend Princess Margaret Hospital for a medical examination. A social worker from the Child Protection Unit at PMH can assist you.
Your child may be referred to the Department for Child Protection for counselling or other welfare matters.
For other crimes the police will need to undertake an investigation which may take several weeks before it can be determined whether or not charges will be laid. If your child has received physical injuries they may need to attend hospital or see your GP.
If your child has been the victim of abuse, you can access counselling for your child by contacting the Department for Child Protection, Princess Margaret Hospital Child Protection Unit or your medical practitioner. If your child has been the victim of an assault or robbery, or has witnessed a crime you can speak with a counsellor from the Victim Support Service, phone (08) 9425 2850 or Freecall 1800 818 988.
The link below provides information about other counselling services.
Once police lay charges against an accused person, criminal court proceedings will begin.
Your child can be referred to the Child Witness Service (CWS) for court preparation and support for matters proceeding through the Magistrates, Children's, District or Supreme Court. Referrals are normally made by the police but you can ask for assistance by phoning 9425 2850 and asking to speak to the Coordinator.
Once your child has been referred to CWS, a child witness worker will contact you to discuss how the service can assist you and your child. The CWS will keep you informed about every court date.
There are different courts for various types of offences.
Less serious offences will be listed in the Magistrates Court for a first listing and then proceed through a number of court appearances until a trial date is set. Your child will not be required to attend court until the trial date before a magistrate. Your child will be summonsed to give evidence by the police.
Serious offences will proceed from the Magistrates court to the District court after a committal mention. At this time the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will become involved and will be responsible for the court proceedings. After a number of court dates to make sure that everything is ready to go to a trial, a trial date before a Judge and Jury will be set. Your child will then be summonsed by the police to give evidence at the trial.
If the accused person is a juvenile (under 18 years of age) the charges will be heard in the Children's Court.
If the accused person maintains a plea of not guilty then your child may be required to give evidence. Your child witness worker will complete an assessment of your child's needs for giving evidence in court and will prepare your child to give their evidence.
Your child may be eligible for Special Witness Status. If this is granted they will be able to give their evidence by closed circuit television from a remote room and to have a support person with them. They will not have to go into a court room.
Your child will meet with a prosecutor from the DPP who will go through your child's evidence with them. This may include watching their Visually Recorded Interview.
On the day your child gives evidence, they will be supported by the Child Witness worker who will make sure that they are in a safe and secure location and do not come into contact with the accused or the accused supporters. The Visually Recorded Interview will be your child’s evidence in chief and then they will be cross examined.
If the accused person pleads guilty or is found guilty a sentencing date will be set. If you do not want to attend the sentencing, the DPP or the Child Witness Service can tell you the sentencing outcome.
If the accused person pleads guilty at any time during the court process, your child will not be required to give evidence and the matter will proceed to sentencing.
Your child may want to write a Victim Impact Statement which will be considered by the Judge or Magistrate when sentencing or you may want to write one on their behalf. You can be supported to write a victim impact statement by the Child Witness Service, Victim Support Service, your child's counsellor or anyone else you may choose.
Last updated: 18-Feb-2013
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