At Garratts, we have a team of experienced youth court solicitors who can provide effective representation and support to young people throughout the court process. Call us today on 0161 344 2244 or contact us online to speak to a member of our criminal defence team.
How does a youth court work?
A youth court is a special type of magistrates court that deals with cases for young people aged 10 to 17. A youth court does not have a jury. Instead, there will be 3 magistrates or one district judge present.
A parent or guardian must come with the young person if the young person is under 16.
If the young person is 16 or 17, a parent or guardian is recommended to attend with the young person; otherwise, the court may order a parent or guardian to attend.
Members of the public are also not allowed into a youth court. Throughout the court proceedings, the young person will be referred to by their first name (Gov.uk).
If a young person is accused of committing a crime, they will be given a date to go to court. The youth offending team (YOT) will also be involved and support the young person and the parents.
Who can represent a child at the Youth Court?
A young person or the parent can choose to have a criminal defence solicitor represent them at the Youth Court. Young person clients are entitled to free legal representation through Legal Aid.
Do you need legal representation at the Youth Court?
We would strongly advise you to have a solicitor to represent a young person at the Youth Court.
It is important to have legal representation at the Youth Court, as the consequences of a criminal conviction can be serious and can affect the future of the young person.
What types of cases get dealt with at the Youth Court?
The Youth Court deals with a wide range of criminal offences, including:
- anti-social behaviour
- drug offences
- theft and burglaries
- rape and sexual assault
- motoring offences
What can you and the young person expect during court proceedings?
The youth court process can be daunting, but your solicitor can guide you through it.
If the young person pleads guilty, the young person will be convicted of the offence, and the court will proceed towards the sentence, which may result in the case will be adjourned for reports to be prepared by the Youth Offending Team.
If the young person pleads Not Guilty, then the case will be adjourned for a trial. At trial, the Youth Court will decide whether the young person is guilty or not of the offence. If the court decides that it is not guilty, then the young person will be acquitted of the offence. If the court decides guilty, then it will proceed towards sentencing the young person.
The Youth Court can give a range of sentences involving a referral order, Youth Rehabilitation Order or Detention and Training order.
For more serious offences, the Youth Court can send the case to Crown Court for it to be heard there. The Crown Court has more sentencing power to deal with serious offences.
A young person does have the right to appeal the Youth Court's decision to the Crown Court. Any appeals are best done with the help of a criminal defence solicitor.
What if my child has been convicted of rape or murder at the Youth Court?
If the young person has been convicted of a serious offence, their case will be referred to the Crown Court for sentencing. The Crown Court can give more severe punishments, including a maximum sentence of at least 14 years imprisonment.
What sentences can the Youth Court give?
The types of sentences that the Youth Court can give are:
This means that the young person will not receive any punishment.
- Absolute discharge: this is where the young person is found guilty but is not given any punishment.
- Conditional discharge: this is where the young person will not receive any punishment as long as they do not commit another crime within a certain period of time (usually between 6 and 12 months).
Reprimands and final warnings
This is a formal caution that the court gives. A record will be kept of this, but it will not appear on the young person's criminal record.
This is where the young person will have to meet certain conditions, such as attending rehabilitation programmes or doing unpaid work. If they do not meet the conditions, they can be brought back to court and given a different sentence.
This is where the young person will be referred to a panel of people from the local community and youth justice workers. The panel will work with the youth to devise a plan to address the offending behaviour. This could involve attending programmes or meeting with a youth offending officer. Referral orders are can last between 3 – 12 months, depending on the seriousness of the offence.
Youth rehabilitation order (YRO)
This is when a court decides on different things that the young person has to do, and it can last for up to 3 years.
Under a YRO the young person can be given the following requirements:
- activity requirement;
- supervision requirement;
- unpaid work requirement;*
- programme requirement;
- attendance centre requirement;
- prohibited activity requirement;
- curfew requirement;
- exclusion requirement;
- electronic monitoring requirement;
- residence requirement;
- local authority accommodation requirement;
- fostering requirement;
- mental health requirement;
- drug treatment requirement (with or without drug testing);
- intoxicating substance requirement;
- education requirement, and
- intensive supervision and surveillance requirements.
For further information on YROs, please click here.
Detention and training orders
This is a custodial sentence for young offenders aged between 12 and 17. It involves a period of detention followed by a period of supervision.
The period of detention will depend on the severity of the offence and can be anything from 4 weeks to 24 months. Only half of the sentence is served in secure accommodation. The other half of the sentence is served in the community, where the young person is required to attend regular appointments with a member of the Youth Offending Team.