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JUVENILE OFFENDERS IN SOUTH AFRICA

Although all criminal law matters are ultimately governed by the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA), special provision is made for child offenders and the CPA is to then be applied in conjunction with the Child Justice Act 75 of 2008 (the Act).

The Act provides for three different age categories of children:

  1. Children below 10 years at the time of the commission of the offence;
  2. Children aged 10 years and older but younger than 18 years at the time of arrest or when summons or written notice was served on them;
  3. Persons older than 18 years but under 21 years of age who committed an offence while under 18 years of age.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN A JUVENILE OFFENDER IS ARRESTED

In the case of a child offender below 10 years of age, the child is not to be arrested and is rather to be referred to his or her parents or an appropriate adult or a guardian; or if no parent, appropriate adult or a guardian is available or if it is not in the best interests of the child to be handed over to the parent/ appropriate adult/ guardian, to a suitable child and youth care centre. Thereafter the police official must notify a probation officer who will conduct an assessment to decide the way forward for the child.

JUVENILE OFFENDERS IN SOUTH AFRICA

In relation to children belonging to the remaining two age categories, arrest can be affected although it is preferred that police officials make use of other means to secure attendance at court. Nonetheless, once arrested, the Act prescribes that where there is an option to either detain or release the child, preference should always be given to the child’s release with due consideration given to the schedule of offence and the factors outlined in the CPA.

In relation to a schedule 1 offence in terms of the Act, a police official must release the child before the preliminary enquiry and on written notice into the care of a parent or appropriate adult or guardian. A prosecutor may also release a child on bail in respect of a schedule 1 offence but in relation to a schedule 2 offence, only a prosecutor may make the decision regarding the child’s release on bail.

The Court is the decision maker regarding the release of a child in terms of a schedule 3 offence in terms of the act. It is here where an application would need to be brought before court for the child’s release on bail. This is due to schedule 3 offences being serious offences such as murder, rape or exposure or display of child pornography.

DO YOU REQUIRE THE SERVICES OF EXPERIENCED JUVENILE ATTORNEYS IN SOUTH AFRICA? CONTACT OUR CRIMINAL LAW ATTORNEYS TODAY.

Choose Burger Huyser Attorneys as we have gained vast experience in dealing with criminal law matters involving minors over the years. Should you require assistance and or representation in relation to criminal charges being brought against a juvenile, do not hesitate to contact our specialist legal team of juvenile lawyers.

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