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Young People and Intimate Image Laws - Western Australia

Young people are not exempt from the new offence.

Any person over the age of 10 can be charged if they commit a criminal offence in WA, including the new intimate image offence. There are also many other offences under WA and Commonwealth law relating to intimate images of young people.

The key messages for young people are simply:

  • It is against the law to take, keep, send or ask for an intimate image of a person under 18
  • It is against the law to share an intimate image of a person of any age without their consent.

Sentencing young people for intimate image abuse.

The new laws avoid unduly criminalising young offenders (i.e. those who offend before reaching the age of 18) by preserving the diversionary options available under the Young Offenders Act 1994 (WA) including the use of cautions and referral to a Juvenile Justice Team where appropriate.

For example:

Cautioning

  • Police will be able to issue cautions in relation to the new offences – either verbally or in writing.
  • A caution is to be preferred against laying a charge, unless there is a history of previous offences and the seriousness of the offence would make it inappropriate to issue a caution.
  • A police officer may retain property relating to the offence, such as a mobile phone, for up to 48 hours.

Juvenile Justice Team

  • Police may also refer a young person who is alleged to have committed one of the new offences to the Juvenile Justice Team, rather than laying a charge.
  • The Juvenile Justice Team process is focussed on a restorative justice model, and a referral can only be made if the young person accepts responsibility for what has happened.
  • The Juvenile Justice Team process involves the family, the victim and professional support in the development of an 'action plan' for the young person which is then monitored. This might involve an apology to the victim, repairing or replacing damaged property, attending counselling, or providing some form of compensation to the victim.
  • Child Exploitation Material offences between young people are currently handled in this manner.
  • If a charge has proceeded to court, the court may also refer the matter to the Juvenile Justice Team.
  • There is a presumption that a first time offender should be referred to the Juvenile Justice Team.

Court sentencing and related matters

A court sentencing a juvenile offender for any offence must have regard to:

  • The general principles of juvenile justice described in section 7 of the Young Offenders Act 1994 (WA)
  • The age of the offender (with younger age providing greater mitigation)
  • The fact that rehabilitation is aided by the involvement and support of family, and opportunities to engage in employment and education.

Last updated: 16-May-2019

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