Youth Crime

If a young person in your care commits a crime, you need expert advice from a solicitor who is experienced in dealing sensitively and effectively with the legal processes for young people.

Specialists in youth crime

You can be confident that our youth crime solicitors are specialists in this area of criminal law. We offer you the reassurance of working with a solicitor who can advise you and the young person confidently about your options at all stages of the legal process.

We know that this is a very challenging situation for everyone involved and take particular care to ensure that you and the young person fully understand the options at every stage, and their consequences.

Please contact us for more information on our experience with working with young people.

About young people and crime

Children under 10

The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10. This means a child under 10 cannot be arrested or charged with a crime, although they may be given a local child curfew or a child safety order. There may also be consequences for the parents of children under 10 who regularly commit crimes.

Youths aged 10–17

Between the ages of 10 and 17, a child is classed as a youth in the eyes of the law. Youths can commit crime and be arrested and charged with a crime. It is vital that their criminal defence is as expert as for an adult charged with a crime.

The consequences of a criminal conviction are, of course, serious for anyone, but particularly so for young people who may find their choices later in life are affected by a conviction. In general, children between 10–17 will be treated differently from adults in the criminal justice system. They will be:

  • Dealt with by youth courts
  • Given different sentences
  • Sent to special secure centres for young people, not adult prisons on conviction

Young people aged 18

Young people aged 18 are treated as adults by the law. If they’re sent to prison, they’ll be sent to a place that holds 18 to 25-year-olds, not a full adult prison.

Trial in the Youth Court

A youth court is a magistrates’ court with the jurisdiction to try juveniles.

A youth court is presided over by either a district judge or a bench of two or three lay magistrates, which must (unless there are unforeseen circumstances), include both a man and a woman. The magistrates and district judges who sit in the youth court receive specialist training in dealing with young people.

A youth court is not open to the public. Any victim(s) of the crime, however, can make a request to the court to attend the hearings if they want to. The needs and wishes of victims will always be considered by the court and, through the youth offending team (YOT), they often have the opportunity to have an input into the sentencing process.

Where a child is under 16, the court must (unless it would be unreasonable) require a parent or guardian to attend court and where the child is aged 16 to 18, the court may do so.

There is a useful information leaflet for young people on preparing for a court appearance at the website.

We can help

Our specialist youth crime solicitors can help you, your child or the child you are responsible for to navigate the legal process, advising you throughout on the best course of action.

No matter what the circumstances, we can help you. Please contact us as soon as possible on 020 3012 1482.