A person aged 10 to 17, charged with a criminal offence will appear in the youth court.
Youth court hearings are not held in public. The aim of the youth court is to prevent young people from re-offending. It is less formal than the magistrates’ court and designed to enable young people to engage in the court process.
Young people charged with a grave crime may be sent to the crown court if there is a realistic possibility of the sentence (if convicted) being substantially longer than the maximum 2 year detention and training order (DTO) that can be imposed by the youth court.
Youth & Magistrates Criminal Courts
Being accused of a crime and the subject of criminal court proceedings can be daunting. The outcome of these proceedings could have adverse effects on you, your family, career and social life.
Thorough case preparation as well as expert and skilled advocacy are key ingredients to securing the best results for you. Ervaid Law will plan to the conclusion of the case, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles and twists in the case.
It is essential to put the work in during the early stages of criminal proceedings to put you into the best possible position before the trial begins.
All adult criminal cases begin in the magistrates’ court. A magistrates’ court handles cases known as ‘summary offences’, for example some motoring offences, minor criminal damage and common assault.
In certain circumstances, a defendant charged with, for example burglary and drugs offences, may be given an opportunity to elect that his/her case is heard in the crown court. These are called ‘either way’ offences and can be heard either in a magistrates’ court or a Crown Court.
Magistrates’ courts will always send the most serious crimes to the crown court, for example murder, rape and robbery. These are known as ‘indictable’ offences.
Age of Criminal Responsibility
The age of criminal responsibility refers to the minimum age that a child can be prosecuted and punished by law for an offence. The age of criminal responsibility in the UK is the lowest in Europe. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland it is age 10.
Children under age 10 cannot be charged with committing a criminal offence. However, they can be given a Local Child Curfew or a Child Safety Order Children. The child may also be taken into care.
If you are having a trial in the magistrates’ court or youth court, your lawyer will help you complete the Preparation for Effective Trial (PET) form
The prospect of going to prison or being sentenced in any other way can be a daunting one.
Section 125(1) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 provides that every court must, in sentencing an offender, follow any sentencing guidelines which are relevant to the offender’s case unless the court is satisfied that it would be contrary to the interests of justice to do so.
Preparing and presenting a strong mitigation package is essential for securing the best possible sentence.
The court may order a Probation Officer to prepare a Pre-Sentence Report (PSR). The report will assist the judge in determining the appropriate sentence to pass.
Your lawyer will not be present when you are interviewed by a Probation Officer. It is essential to fully prepare for the interview and bring important mitigation material with you to the meeting with the Probation Officer. Ervaid Law will assist you with this.
It is important to know that when preparing a report, the Probation Officer will consider:
- The impact that a prison sentence will have on you.
- The prosecution case papers / case summary
- A list of your previous convictions, if applicable.
- Your education, training and employment history and prospects.
- How you manage your finances and income.
- Whether you have any alcohol / drug misuse issues.
- Whether you suffer from any mental health issues.
- Your thinking and behaviour skills.
- The risk of serious harm and the likelihood of re-conviction if you were given a sentence to serve in the community.
Appeals from the crown court will go to the Court of Appeal or even the Supreme Court.