Youth justice - court procedures

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 in 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 decide whether to send the case to the youth court on another day, or to keep it in Magistrate's 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 can send the case there. (In the case of serious crimes this is called a 'Committal'.)

See PDF file downloadinformation on court procedures (PDF, 14kb) for further details.

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