A youth court is a special type of magistrates’ court for people aged between 10 and 17 years old. It has either three magistrates or a district judge, and there isn’t a jury. The young person’s parent or guardian must come with them if they are under 16 years old or if the court orders them to come.
Youth courts are slightly different from adult courts, for example, members of the public are not allowed into the court (unless they get permission), you are called by your first name and there are restrictions on what the press can report in newspapers or other media.
For serious crimes, such as murder or rape, the case will start in a youth court but will be passed to a crown court.
Youth courts can give a range of sentences including:
- Referral order
- Youth rehabilitation order (YRO)
- Intensive supervision and surveillance (ISS)
- Driving penalties (in the case of driving offences)
- Bail supervision and support
- Custody – normally a Detention and Training Order (DTO)
Young people can be made subject to bail conditions until the next hearing if the case is not dealt with on the day. These can include court bail conditions and, in exceptional cases, a remand to local authority accommodation or to custody.
If a young person fails to attend court, a warrant can be issued for their arrest. This means that the police will arrest the young person and hold them in the police station until a court can deal with their case. At weekends this could mean being held overnight.
If you disagree with the court’s verdict, you may be able to appeal. Court staff can give you information on how to appeal.
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