According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, in the year ending March 2021, approximately 15,800 children received a caution or sentence, which is a 17% reduction from 2020 (Gov.uk). However, the number of young people aged 10 to 17 years old who were arrested remained high at 50,784, with 18,649 young offenders being prosecuted in court.
We understand that being charged with a crime can be a very stressful and confusing time for young people and their parents, which is why we offer support and guidance throughout the legal process. To speak to us today, call 0161 344 2244 or request a callback.
What is youth crime?
Youth crime is a term used to describe criminal offences committed by young people, typically those aged between 10 and 17. Offenders usually have their trial in the youth court, which has different rules and procedures to the adult court system, i.e. there is no jury present.
The Youth Court handles several criminal offences, including:
- anti-social behaviour
- drug offences
- theft and burglaries
- rape and sexual assault
Serious crimes will be referred to the Crown Court for sentencing. Garratts' solicitors have a wealth of experience in defending cases involving young people. We understand the concerns and anxieties that you may have as a parent or guardian, and we will do everything we can to support you and your child through the legal process. Contact us on 0161 344 2244 or use our 24 hr Emergency Line 07971 163241.
What is the Full Code Test (FCT)?
The Full Code Test (FCT) is used to decide whether a young person should be prosecuted. If the FCT is not met, then the case will not go to court. The Full Code Test is:
- evidential stage - to review if there is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction;
- public interest stage - to decide if it is in the public interest to prosecute.
Prosecutors will consider various factors when making their decision, i.e.
- the age of the offender,
- the seriousness of the offence,
- any information from the police,
- the offender's home life,
- and whether there are any aggravating or mitigating factors.
What are youth cautions?
If the Full Code Test is met and it is decided that a young person should be prosecuted, they may be issued with a youth caution instead of going to court. A youth caution is a formal out-of-court warning given by the police, and it will stay on the young person's record for two years if they are under 18.
Receiving a youth caution can have serious implications; for example, it may affect the young person's ability to find employment in the future.
Are parents allowed to attend police interviews?
If your child is under 17, you or another family member have the right to be present during any police interview. Appropriate adults are called to the police station as an important safeguard, providing independent support to the child. Your role is to assist the child in ensuring that they understand what is happening at the police station during the interview and investigative stages.
You will make sure that you support, advise and assist the child. To ensure that the police act fairly and respect the child's rights and help communicate between the child, police and third parties.
You are not there to simply observe the interview.
What happens after my child has attended a police interview?
After the police interview, the prosecutor will review the case and decide whether to:
- invite your child back for additional questioning,
- issue a youth caution,
- refer the case to court,
- or take no further action.
If you do not have a youth crime solicitor and your child is issued with a youth caution or their case is referred to court, you should contact our criminal defence team as soon as possible.
What are the consequences of a youth getting convicted?
The consequences of being convicted of a crime as a youth can be significant. If your child is found guilty, they may receive one of the following;
- Reprimand – a formal warning given by a judge or magistrate
- Conditional Discharge – an order not to commit any further offences for a specified community sentence. This could involve unpaid work, curfews, or attending training programmes, detentions and training orders.
- Referral Order – (RO) is an order made by the court to help the child take responsibility for their behaviour and stop offending. It is usually between 3 to 12 months.
- Sentence of up to 24 months imprisonment for young offenders aged between 12-17 years old. This will involve four to six months of detention followed by a period of licence in the community.
- Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) if your child is 10 to 17 years old involves supervision and other conditions such as unpaid work or attending training programmes for up to 3 years.
How can parents help their children if they are accused of a crime?
If your child is accused of a crime, there are a few things you can do to help them;
- Get advice from a specialist criminal solicitor as soon as possible. This will ensure that your child's rights are protected and that they receive the best possible outcome.
- Ensure that you or another family member is present during any police interview.
- Prepare for court by attending meetings with the prosecutor, probation officer, or other professionals involved in the case.
- Get character references from people who know your child well. If your child is convicted of a youth crime, there are still things you can do to help them.
- Ensure that they adhere to any requirements of their sentence, such as attending training programmes or meeting with a probation officer.
- Provide support and encouragement throughout the process. It can be difficult for both you and your child, but it's important to remain positive and support them through it.