1. What are the possible penalties for bringing dangerous drugs to Hong Kong?
Severe penalties are imposed upon those who bring drugs into Hong Kong, particularly where they are brought in for sale or transfer to others. The maximum punishment is life imprisonment. Prison sentences can be expected even for relatively small amounts of drug. Young age and a previous clear record will count for very little, particularly where the trafficking involves a commercial element.
As an example of likely sentences, a person who traffics between 10 to 50 grammes of ketamine can expect a prison sentence of between 4 to 6 years upon conviction after trial. A person who traffics between 300 to 600 grammes can expect a prison sentence of between 9 to 12 years imprisonment upon conviction after trial.
There will normally be a one-third discount in the term of imprisonment if the defendant pleads guilty. Where a defendant is young a Training Centre, Rehabilitation Centre or Detention Centre order could be made depending upon the nature, quantity and value of the drugs and the defendant’s suitability for one or other of those orders. However the courts have made it clear that youth and/or a clear record will not normally shelter a young offender from imprisonment for trafficking in drugs. This is because of the danger that organised drug traffickers will use young persons to bring drugs into Hong Kong unless appropriately severe sentences are imposed.
For more details, please go to Child and Youth Affairs > Crimes commonly committed by young people > Drug cases > B. Trafficking in dangerous drugs .
2. Have I committed any offences by accessing another’s emails/Facebook without permission?
If you know that the other person would not have consented your accessing of his/her email/Facebook account, you commit the offence of “unauthorized access to a computer by telecommunications” contrary to section 27A of the Telecommunications Ordinance ( Chapter 106 ). The maximum penalty for the offence is a fine of $20,000. You may also commit the offence of “accessing to computer with criminal or dishonest intent” contrary to section 161(1)(c) of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200) with you accessed the computer with a view to dishonest gain for yourself or another, or with a dishonest intent to cause loss to another. The maximum penalty for the offence is 5 years’ imprisonment.
To know more about these two offences, please visit Child and Youth Affairs > Crimes commonly committed by young people > Intellectual property offences and crimes on the Internet .
3. A girl claimed that she was 17 years old. I genuinely believed her and had sexual intercourse with her. In fact, her actual age was 15. Have I committed any offence?
You have committed the offence of “unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 16” contrary to section 124 of the Crimes Ordinance ( Chapter 200 ). The maximum penalty for the offence is 5 years imprisonment.
Once it is proved that you had sexual intercourse with the girl and she was under 16 years of age at that time, you are guilty of the offence. The girl’s factual consent is irrelevant because she is under 16. Your belief that she was 17 is similarly irrelevant. The offence is having sexual intercourse with a girl under 16 years of age and that is what you have done.
For more about the offence, please visit Child and Youth Affairs > Crimes commonly committed by young people > Unlawful sexual activities > B. Unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 16 years’ of age .
4. Under what circumstances my conviction can be “spent”?
Under the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Ordinance (“RHO”) (Cap. 297), a person’s first-time conviction record for a relatively minor offence can be spent (i.e. can practically be ignored, subject to some exceptions, after three years. Subject to certain exceptions, Subject to certain exceptions, the conviction of a person who is not sentenced to imprisonment exceeding three months, whether that sentence takes effect immediately or is suspended, or to a fine exceeding $10,000, and who has not previously been convicted in Hong Kong of any offence will be treated as spent once three years has elapsed without another conviction for an offence in Hong Kong.
When a conviction has become “spent” under the RHO, offenders can, subject to exceptions set out in the RHO, claim not to have a criminal record, and the spent conviction cannot be held against them.
For more about criminal records and Rehabilitation of Offenders Ordinance, please visit the YouthCLIC website: YouthCLIC > Useful Info > Criminal records and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Ordinance .
5. What is a juvenile court? What are the differences between a juvenile court and an adult court?
According to section 3A of the Juvenile Offenders Ordinance , the juvenile court consists of a permanent magistrate, and has the jurisdiction to hear and determine any charge against a “child” or “young person” of any offence other than homicide.
“Child” is defined as a person under 14 years of age. “Young person” is defined as a person aged 14 years and under the age of 16 years. It should also be noted that no child under the age of 10 can be guilty of a criminal offence. However they may be subject to care and protection proceedings as pursuant to the Protection of Women and Juveniles Ordinance ( Chapter 213 ).
The major differences between an adult court and a juvenile court include:
- The juvenile court is not open to the public.
- A juvenile’s parent or guardian shall accompany the juvenile at all stages of the court proceedings, unless the court otherwise orders.
- No person shall publish any written report or broadcast a report which would lead to the identification of any juvenile in the proceedings. This includes restricting the publishing of the name, address, or school of the juvenile.
For more about juvenile court, please visit the YouthCLIC website: YouthCLIC > Useful Info >Juvenile Court .
6. What are Detention Centre Order, Training Centre Order and Rehabilitation Centre Order?
Detention Centre Order, Training Centre Order and Rehabilitation Centre Order are alternatives to imprisonment.
Detention Centre Orders are for male offenders only from the age of 14 to 24. Emphasis is placed on hard physical labour and discipline in order to administer a short sharp shock on the offender so that he will not re-offend again. The period of detention will be decided by the Commissioner of Correctional Services, who will consider the conduct of the offender during detention. For offenders aged between 14 and 20, the minimum period of detention is one month and the maximum is 6 months. For offenders aged between 21 and 24, the period of detention is from three months to 12 months.
Training centres emphasises on rehabilitation, and offenders are trained in a trade. They are suitable for both male and female offenders aged from 14 to 20. The period of detention will be decided by the Commissioner of Correctional Services, who will consider the conduct of the offender during detention. The minimum period of detention is six months and the maximum is three years.
Rehabilitation Centre Orders are suitable for both male and female offenders aged 14 to 20. The objectives are to deter further criminal conduct and to rehabilitate detainees in terms of socially acceptable behaviour. The offenders will first be detained full time at a rehabilitation centre for a period between two months and five months, to be determined by the Commissioner of Correctional Services by considering the conduct and progress of the offenders. Then they will be subjected to a period of residence at another rehabilitation centre when they may be permitted to go out during certain hours to study, work or do other approved activities. The period of residence is between one month and four months, to be determined by the Commissioner of Correctional Services by considering the needs and progress of the offenders.
Upon release from detention centres/ training centres/ rehabilitation centres, the offenders may be subjected to supervision for a period of time when they need to obey certain requirements. Failure to comply with the supervision requirements may result in the offenders being sent back to the respective centres.
For more details about different punishment and sentencing options imposed by courts, please visit the YouthCLIC website: YouthCLIC > Useful Info > Punishment and sentencing options .