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Youth Court

A specialist court for children, it deals with criminal cases against children aged 10-17.

Youth courts are less formal than adult courts. Children are called by their first names and the judge or magistrates will speak directly to the child and may ask questions.

Youth courts are specially designed to make it easier for children to understand what is happening and feel less intimidated by their surroundings. Cases can be heard by one district judge or three lay magistrates.

Children under 16 must attend with a parent or guardian.1 Sixteen and seventeen year olds may attend with a parent, guardian or someone to support them. The parent, guardian or supporting adult should sit next to their child and remain seated throughout the proceedings.

Most children will go to the youth court  unless they have been refused bail by the police and there is no youth court available, in which case they will be taken to the adult magistrates’ court for a decision on bail, and sent from there to the next youth court.

A child jointly charged with an adult will go to the adult magistrates’ court for their first appearance.

At the first appearance the court will ask the child if they are guilty or not guilty, if the child is charged with a grave crime the court will decide which court will hear the case. More serious cases may be sent to the Crown Court. The majority of cases will stay in the youth court.

The maximum sentence in the youth court is a two year Detention and Training Order (DTO).

  1. Section 34A Children and Young Persons Act 1933  (back)