About court reports
About court reports pamphlets [PDF 219KB]
When you’ve been arrested by the police for an offence, you will usually be charged and given a notice to appear in the Childrens Court at a certain time and day. Depending on your situation, this might be the next day or in a few weeks time. The Magistrate (or Judge) can ask for a report to be written about you and your circumstances. The report will help them to understand you and to make decisions about you.
Court reports for young people
Reports may be requested by the court at any stage of the court process. Some of these reports are written by the Child and Youth Protection Service (this is where your case manager works). The reports are called:
- progress reports that give the court an idea of how you have been going while you’ve been on bail or in custody
- background reports that give the court information about your family history and personal circumstances
- pre-sentence reports that give the court information about you to help it to decide what type of sentence is the best for you and your situation.
The court will only ask your case manager for a pre-sentence report when you have indicated to the court you will plead guilty, or you have been found guilty of a crime. If you are over 18 when the court asks for a pre-sentence report, you might need to go to Community Corrections (ACT Corrective Services) and someone there will write the report.
Other kinds of court reports
Sometimes the court will ask for other reports about you, to help them decide how best to respond to your situation.
Other reports could be:
- psychiatric, psychological or medical reports
- care and protection reports
- drug and alcohol assessments.
If the court asks for one of these reports, you will be given instructions about where you need to go and who to talk to about your report.
Who does your case manager talk to when they write a report?
Your case manager will write their report after talking to you, and to others who know you. People that they might talk to before writing a report include:
- your parents or carers
- other members of your family
- your school teacher
- someone from an education or support service who knows you.
If writing a report, your case manager can also ask for copies of your school reports, medical records, criminal history or care and protection history.
Remember: Your case manager does not work for anyone involved in your court case (like the prosecution or the defence). Their job is to write a fair and balanced report based on the information they collect from you and about you.
What happens when the court asks for a report?
When the court asks for a report, the Magistrate will delay your matters (this is called an ‘adjournment’), usually for about 4 to 6 weeks. This gives your case manager enough time to talk to you and to other people to prepare your report.
If your matters have been adjourned, you will need to go to the Child and Youth Protection Service to make a time for an interview (there’s a map on the back).
If your charges are serious or you have a history of court involvement, you might have to go to the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre (Bimberi) while your report is being written. This is called being ‘remanded in custody’. If this happens, your case manager will visit you at Bimberi to prepare your report.
Having your say in a report
It is usually in your best interests for the court to have as much information as possible about you and your situation. That’s why it’s important that you talk to your case manager so they can write a detailed report for the court. If you are worried about giving information for a report, you can talk to your lawyer and get advice from them.
Remember: If your bail order says that you must report for ‘supervision’, you can be breached for not going to an appointment and you may be arrested.
Sentencing options in a pre-sentence report
There are a lot of different sentencing options available to the court.
For this reason, your case manager will usually comment on your suitability for a few different sentencing options in your pre-sentence report.
Information that your case manager considers when making sentencing recommendations in your
pre-sentence report include:
- your age and level of maturity
- your past and current family circumstances
- your personal circumstances (including things like school attendance, medical history, income, whether you have a job, or any special needs you might have)
- your attitude (that’s how you feel) about your crime
- any rehabilitation options available to you
- the likelihood that you might commit further crime (this is called
Sentencing options and recommendations will be discussed with you at the time of writing the pre-sentence report.
For questions about your legal matters, call*:
Aboriginal Legal Service 6249 8488
Legal Aid 6243 3411
Youth Law Centre 6173 5410
Child and Youth 6207 1069
(*available weekdays, 9am to 5pm)
For help or advice after hours, call:
After-hours crisis and Bail Service 1300 556 279
(available weekdays, 5pm to 2am or weekends and
public holidays, 4pm to 2am)
Freecall 1800 178 277