Young Adult List

Supporting young adults through court and toward pathways out of the justice system

The Young Adult List is an approach to the District Court for 18 to 25 year olds. The List makes some changes to standard court processes and connects young adults with community supports who can help them through court and possibly beyond.

The goal is for everyone to understand what is happening and feel understood by those making decisions about them, so they can fully participate in the court process.

How did the Young Adult List come about?

In 2019, His Honour Judge John Walker suggested the idea for the Young Adult List. He noticed that young adults don’t suddenly grow out of the challenges that bring young people to the Youth Court. Judge Walker suggested that the District Court can better support young adults and prevent reoffending by using what works in the Youth Court and other Therapeutic Courts.

What happens in the Young Adult List?

The Judge and the Young Adult List court team work together to make sure all people (young adults, victims, their whānau and support people) feel acknowledged, welcomed, respected, and treated fairly.

•           Understanding what is happening

Everyone working in the court makes an effort to speak in plain language. This isn’t just about using simple words instead of big legal words. It’s about taking time to explain things and check people understand what has been said and what is expected of them. It’s also about supporting people who might need a little extra help to understand, e.g. helping young adults access Communication Assistants if needed.

•           Feeling heard and understood

Young adults, victims, their whānau and support people are given the opportunity to speak and be included in proceedings. The court team has a good understanding of young adults and the challenges and needs that often bring them to court.

•           Support for positive change

As part of the court process, young adults may be connected with community services and programmes (such as counselling and training courses) to help them rehabilitate, grow and address their offending. When the young adult has had an opportunity to make positive changes, the Judge will make a decision about their sentence.

If you are a defendant aged 18 to 25

We have created a handbook to explain the List to you. It has answers to common questions and says what some words used at court mean. It is available in standard [PDF, 536 KB] font and dyslexic [PDF, 21 MB] font.

If you want to know more about the court process, you can view the information here [PDF, 6.8 MB].

Your lawyer may suggest some actions you can take to make positive changes in your life. If you agree, these actions will be included in an Intervention Plan. Actions may include getting your driver’s licence, attending counselling or connecting with your whakapapa.

If you are a victim

If you are a victim of someone appearing in the Young Adult List, you, and your support people, are acknowledged, treated with respect, and given a voice. A Court Victim Advisor(external link)(external link) will generally contact you after the young adult’s first appearance. You can:

  • attend any court hearing, where everyone in court will speak in a way which is easier for everyone to understand
  • apply to read your Victim Impact Statement at sentencing
  • choose to be involved in a restorative justice conference
  • be informed about the young adult’s progress through their court case
  • be informed about what support is available.

The Young Adult List recognises that victims have a right to feel safe and supported during court proceedings. If you want more information, you can view this factsheet here [PDF, 124 KB] or go to the victims info website(external link)(external link).

If you are working in the Young Adult List

You may need to adjust how you usually work. Some changes you will see at court are:

  • Everyone, including the Judge, speaking in plain language. If you need to use legal terms, you will be expected explain what the term means.
  • Registry providing reports to the Judge, Prosecution and Defence if the young adult has Youth or Family Court history.
  • Duty Lawyers recording information about the young adult in the Duty Lawyer Checklist at first appearance. This will be given to the assigned lawyer at the second appearance.
  • Alternative courtroom layouts with Defence Lawyers standing next to the young adult they are representing.
  • Judges acknowledging and speaking directly to young adults and their whānau.

If you are a Lawyer, you should seek the Police Prosecutor’s views on an Intervention Plan before it is provided to the Judicial Officer for approval. The Judicial Officer may take the young adult’s progress on their plan into account at sentencing. 

The following templates are available to support you:

Intervention Plan form (Defence Lawyer [PDF, 1 MB]) (Duty Lawyer [PDF, 169 KB]) – use these forms to create an Intervention Plan.

Intervention Plan report form [PDF, 712 KB] – you can use this form to report back to the court on completion of a young adult’s Intervention Plan.  

Progress Summary [PDF, 634 KB]– you may need to provide this to a community service provider, so they can update the court as to the young adult’s progress on their plan.

Education Package

Before you begin working in the List, you should complete the education package. It has been developed to provide information to help you feel informed and prepared. The education package includes training modules on important elements of the Young Adult List, such as plain language and supporting resources.

You can view this education package here(external link)(external link).

Operating Guidelines

The Ministry have also developed Operating Guidelines to provide a central point of information about the List. This document provides the national approach for the List, but some local variances may apply to reflect the court and community needs. This is a living document which will be updated as the List develops. You can view these Guidelines here [PDF, 6.8 MB].

Where is the Young Adult List happening?

The Young Adult List is currently in three courts:

The List was piloted in the Porirua District Court. You may also be interested in reading the evaluation of the Young Adult List in Porirua. You can find this document here.

The aim is that over time all District Courts will have the Young Adult List. Each court will adapt the List in ways that work for the court and the community it serves.

The Young Adult List is working alongside other important changes taking place in the justice system, such as Whakaorangia te Mana Tangata and Bail Support Services(external link)(external link). Together, these changes will help us move toward Te Ao Mārama.

For general enquiries:

Please email DesignandCommissioning@justice.govt.nz