Our legal support services seek to ensure that the arrested youths receive the most fitting and appropriate treatment from the judiciary system, in a manner that comprehensively accounts for their unique backgrounds, experiences, past developments, and wellbeing-related considerations.
Our programme caters to two separate categories of youths arrested under the age of 25 and their family members. Participation in the program is voluntary, and family would only be involved with the consent of all parties.
Category 1-- – Arrested youths who may qualify for, and who are also willing to consider the following two arrangements that do not carry criminal records, namely, the Police Superintendent’s Discretion Scheme (PSDS) or Binding-Over. Subject to certain conditions (e.g., offences involved are minor, and offenders show remorse), the authorities may agree to these arrangements in lieu of prosecution .
Police Superintendent’s Discretion Scheme (PSDS)
In PSDS (which is designed to cover persons under 18), the offender is cautioned by a Police Superintendent instead of being brought to a court. From June 2019 to the 30th November 2020, there have been 19 cases resolved through PSDS.
A bind-over is neither a conviction nor a punishment; but is a preventive measure against future offence. The prosecution, with the permission of the court, agrees to withdraw the charge in return for a bind over -- a promise by the offender to engage in good behaviour for a period not exceeding 3 years.
From June 2019 to 31st December 2020, 10,200 individuals have been arrested, with 2,450 prosecuted. 940 individuals have completed the legal process, out of which an estimated 179 (19%) have been acquitted, 242 (26%) have been granted binding-over, 519 (55%) have been convicted, 190 (19%) have been sentenced to prison, and 329 (35%) were awaiting sentencing, or have received penalties not involving imprisonment, and 2 have received Care or Protection Orders (0.2%).
Category 2-- – Category 2 -- Other Arrested Youths who do not qualify for PSDS or O.N.E. Bind-Over may face prosecution. Once convicted, that person will carry a criminal record, However, under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Ordinance, if the convicted person had not previously committed another offence, and is not sentenced to imprisonment exceeding three months or a fine exceeding $10,000, the conviction record will be considered as "spent" if he/she has not re-offended within a period of three years. This means that, under most circumstances, he/she should be regarded as not having been convicted of the offence, and there is no need to reveal the criminal record to others.(See link to exceptions and details).
For youths who did not commit serious offences, penalties stress rehabilitation rather than punishment. The judge will consider a range of alternatives to imprisonment after investigating the personal background and unique circumstances of the youth.These alternatives to imprisonment include fine, community order, probation order, and penalties involving detention (Detention Centre, Training Centre, Rehabilitation Centre etc.)(See link for details).
After completing the above penalties, that person’s conviction record will be considered as "spent" if he/she has not re-offended within a period of three years (In case that person is fined, it is assumed that the fine did not exceed $10,000).
Psychosocial reports will be producedfor the above two categories of participants, compiling information on areas including but not limited to the states and wellbeing of the prospective participants, family members, and associates. These reports will be submitted to the authorities for their consideration, so as to ensure that the youths receive the most judicious and fitting treatment under the judicial system – e.g. PSDS and Binding-over Orders (for Category 1 participants), or mitigated sentences should the youth be convicted (for Category 2 participants).
Referrals to Legal Services
Should the participant require free legal consultation, Project Change will refer the participant to the HKU Faculty of Law Clinical Legal Education Programme or other free legal consultation services.
Please click into the following links to understand the various judicial processes discussed above:
- Community Legal Information Centre: Binding-over
- Community Legal Information Centre: PSDS
- Community Legal Information Centre: Consequences of Criminal Offences
- Hong Kong Police Force: PSDS
- Youth Community Legal Information Centre: PSDS
- Wong Yan-lung on the spirit of law and order