Youth court procedures

If a young person is charged with committing a criminal offence and legal action is taken, they will usually be sent to the youth court.

The first thing a young person should do if notified of a court appearance is find a solicitor. Legal aid should be available but if not, ask the court for the duty solicitor.

Failure to attend court and lateness are taken very seriously and usually result in an arrest warrant being issued. At least one parent or appropriate adult should accompany a young person to their court appearance.

A member of our youth offending team will be in court to make sure the young person is aware of what they have to do and arrange for any court reports to be written.

If a young person pleads ‘not guilty’ the case can be adjourned for a pre-trial review which sets a trial date where witnesses may be called to give evidence to the court. Both the prosecution and defence will then be asked to put their case before the court.

If a young person pleads ‘guilty’ the court will consider whether the young person has committed previous offences and how serious they were, among other things. The young person may be given a referral order or a custody sentence if the offence is serious.

If the court decides a different type of order is needed, we must write a pre-sentence report. The court will use this report to help decide a fair sentence. The court will also consider that person’s personal circumstances.

The offender will be asked to attend interviews so the report can be written. The report will still be written if they don’t attend and they will still be sentenced, but their failure to attend interviews will also be considered.

youth offending team