Sentenced and unsentenced detention

Young people might be in detention while they are:

  • unsentenced – that is, awaiting their initial court appearance, or awaiting sentencing after being found or pleading guilty
  • sentenced – when they have been found guilty in court and have received a legal order to serve a period of detention.

Whether a young person is unsentenced or sentenced is known as their 'legal status'.

Most young people in unsentenced detention have been remanded in custody by a court until their next court appearance. In 2021–22, the vast majority (98%) of young people in unsentenced detention on an average day were on remand (AIHW 2023). The remainder were in police‑referred detention, that is, they were detained before their first court appearance (which is possible in most states and territories). However, more than one-third (37%) of those who were in unsentenced detention during 2021–22 experienced police-referred detention at some time during the year (AIHW 2023).

In this report, young people who are both sentenced and unsentenced at the same time (for example, for 2 different matters) are counted as sentenced.

From 2017–18 onwards, Queensland’s detention data include sentenced and unsentenced young people in detention centres and other custodial settings. In Queensland, 'other custodial settings' includes young people held in police watch houses under remand and sentenced detention, which is unique compared with other jurisdictions.