Saturday 30th May 2020
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Detailing how young offenders can be brought to court and the type of criminal courts in England and Wales.

There are two main ways of being brought to court after having committed an offence.

  • being held in police cells and produced for court on the next available day
  • being released by the police and bailed to appear at court on a certain day.  (If a young person does not attend court when they have been bailed to do so, it is also an offence with which they can be charged, so it is important to go to court when you are told to).

There are three levels of criminal courts in England and Wales:-

  • Crown Court
  • Magistrate's Court
  • Youth Court

A young person will usually be seen by the Youth Court unless the day they are to go to court is not a Youth Court day (most areas only run Youth Courts on certain days of the week).

If the young person appears on a day when there is no Youth Court, they will be seen in adult court (Magistrate's).  In this case, the Magistrates will adjourn the case to the Youth Court.

If the young person is jointly charged with an adult, the Magistrates will have to decide if the two defendants should be kept together or if the adult should be dealt with in Magistrate's Court, and the young person in Youth Court.

If the offence that the young person has been charged with is serious enough, or if the adult they are charged with chooses to be dealt with in Crown Court, the Magistrates will send the case there.  (In the case of serious crimes this is called a "Committal).

What should I do if I have to go to court?
The first thing a young person should do when notified that they are to go to court, is to get themselves a solicitor.  As most people cannot afford to pay for a solicitor, they should be able to get legal aid, which will pay these fees.  If, by the time they get to court, a young person still does not have a solicitor, they should ask at the court for the duty solicitor who will advise them.

When a young person arrives at the court, they should first of all find the Usher who is organising the court schedule for that day and inform them that they have arrived.  If a young person is late, or fails to attend, it is taken quite seriously and will usually result in a Warrant for his or her arrest.

Young people should be careful to arrive in good time for their appearance, and should attend with at least one of their parents, or another appropriate adult (preferably a relative).  The Magistrates will expect a parent to be in attendance, and if no one comes with a young person, the court may put the case off to a later date and send a Summons for the parent to attend on the next occasion.  If the parent does not attend on the Summons date, the court can issue a warrant for their arrest.


 Contact information

Youth offending service
Ground Floor, The Albany 4, Cardiff Road, Luton, LU1 1PP
Tel: 01582 547900 or out of hours emergency 0870 2385465

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