What is the youth court?
The youth court is part of the Magistrates’ Court and deals with criminal cases involving young people aged between 10 and 18 years old. The youth court is less formal than the magistrates’ court, as the primary aim of the youth justice system is to prevent reoffending.
There is the presumption that all young people are dealt with in the youth court, however there are a number of situations when a youth will appear in the Crown Court. In these situations, the youth will first appear before the youth court.
District judges and magistrates sitting in the Youth Court have specialist training and there is no jury in a Youth Court trial. A parent or guardian must accompany a youth to court if they are aged under 16 and if the youth is aged 16 – 17 and given a court order. Members of the public are not allowed into the court unless they have express permission. Young people are called by their first name in court. The Youth Court allows participation by the young person and their family.
Offences in the youth court
We are able to represent young people when:
- They appear in court for the first time charged with a criminal offence
- Not guilty pleas have previously been entered and they are due to stand trial
- They are appearing in court in relation to a breach of a previously imposed court order
- They are applying for bail or variations of bail conditions already imposed
- They are appearing in court in relation to non payment of fines
- They are awaiting sentence
Our solicitors are sensitive and appreciate that appearing before the youth court can be a very stressful time for both the young person and their family. Our specialist solicitors aim to offer support to the youth and their families throughout the youth court proceedings.
In certain situations, specialist reports can be obtained when a young person has health vulnerabilities such as mental health or learning difficulties. These reports can be very useful and beneficial to the youth’s case.
Our solicitors can liaise with various agencies in relation to the young person.
Youth court sentences
When a youth pleads guilty or is found guilty before the youth court, there are a number of sentences available.
Depending on the nature of the case, the young person’s circumstances and whether they pleaded guilty to the criminal offence, youths aged under 18 on the date of conviction can be sentenced to:
- An absolute discharge
- Conditional discharge
- A fine
- A compensation order
- A referral order
- A reparation order
- A youth rehabilitation order
- A detention and training order
If the youth was aged under 18 at the time of conviction, the court cannot suspend a custodial sentence.
There are a number of sentences available to the youth court when the youth has turned 18 prior to the date of conviction, including:
- An absolute discharge
- A conditional discharge
- A fine
- A community order
- Detention in a young offenders’ institution
- A suspended sentence order
Nb. This guide is intended to give general information only and not intended to be used as the basis upon which advice is given, nor should it be relied upon as giving advice specific to a case or individual. Lawtons do not accept liability for anyone using this guide. Should you require specific advice in connection with a real case or situation, please contact us immediately so that we can provide specific advice.