For you and your family

Youth crime

At Freemans, we have an experienced team of youth crime lawyers.

The criminal justice system can present a daunting experience for anybody, but particularly so when you are still a child. We have the specialist skills to help children and young people and assist them throughout the process from arrest, police station interviews, appearing at the Youth Court and for the most serious of cases arising before the Crown Court and on appeal. 

Having the right representation early on in the process can make a real difference to the result.

Freemans youth crime lawyers will take the time to thoroughly examine the evidence and give full age sensitive advice to ensure that a young person’s interests are advanced and protected. We will, where necessary obtain material that can make a difference in a case, such as school records or medical notes from your GP. Sometimes there are unusual circumstances that should be explored thoroughly such as physical or mental issues and family background. We have mature relationships with other specialist professionals that we can call upon should their professional help be needed to support/present the case 

Youths -Frequently Asked questions

What Criminal Offences can Freemans deal with for Youths?

We have a specialist team of youth crime lawyers who can advise on every type of criminal offence some of the more common are; assault, criminal damage, burglary, rape, arson, drugs, road traffic offences, violence, firearms, sexual offences, public order offences, murder and gang-related offences.

What is the age of criminal responsibility?

The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is set at ten years of age. If a child is younger than ten years old, they cannot legally be charged with an offence.

Are the police required to tell anyone if a youth is at the police station and arrested?

When a person who either is or appears to be under 18 arrives at the police station, the custody officer has a duty to identify the person responsible for their welfare and then notify them of his arrest and where s/he is being detained.

Can a youth be interviewed at the police station without a parent being present?

Another person known as an ‘appropriate adult ‘must also be present. The police’s preferred option to fulfil this role is the child/ young person’s parent or guardian, or a suitable representative from the authority/organisation responsible for their care.

If they are however not suitable or able to fulfil the role, an adult must still be present, and there are a limited range of other candidates. The police may contact the local youth offending team to obtain somebody suitable.

What is an 'Out-of-Court disposal' that avoids the Youth Court?

On occasions, the police may agree to an alternative disposal at the police station called a Youth Caution. This would only, however, be appropriate if the allegation was admitted. In making the decision, the police would consider a number of matters including any previous record of offending and the seriousness of the offence.

There have been occasions when a young person has been charged and appears at the Youth Court, and we have been able to persuade the prosecution to refer a case back to the police station stage for a Youth Caution.

What happens at the Youth Court?

The Youth Court is less formal than an adult Magistrates Courts or Crown Court.

When a young person first appears at the Youth Court, they are expected to understand the charge and enter their plea. Our specialist lawyers at Freemans can advise throughout the process.

If a child appears before the Youth Court, it is compulsory for a parent or guardian to be in attendance with them if they are under 16 and discretionary if they are 16-17. 

Will bail be granted to appear at the Youth Court?

A child/young person may be released from the Police Station to appear at the Youth Court on bail or appear from custody.

If they have offended many times before, or if they have been charged with a very serious crime they could appear in Court from custody. Each case is considered individually.

If bail is granted would it be subject to conditions at the youth Court?

Again. each case is considered individually, and unconditional bail is often granted. Where conditions are attached, they could include things such as residence, a curfew, not to contact particular people, not to go to a specific area or address. A curfew condition is often monitored by an electronic tag attached to the person’s ankle and an electronic device located at their home.

What factors can affect sentence at the Youth Court if a child pleads guilty?

The type of sentence a youth can receive will depend on many different factors such as, how serious the crime is, age, background, and personal circumstances. A compelling point to raise in court may be whether they have shown remorse at any stage. This can be demonstrated by expressing regret for their actions and explaining why they did what they did. Remorse can be shown early on at the police station, such as writing an apology letter to the complainant.

What is a Referral Order?

Any young person can make a mistake and be charged with a criminal offence. A referral order allows for those mistakes. The Referral order is the only court order that will not be recorded as a criminal conviction.

If your child pleads guilty usually for a first offence and they are between 10 to 17-years, they must usually be given a Referral Order. S/he will then be referred to a youth offending panel established by the youth offending team

The “youth offending panel” must arrange a first and second meeting. The purpose is to reach an agreement with the youth on a programme of behaviour to prevent future offending. 

They must agree and sign a contract, and before the sentence is complete, there may be rehabilitative and restorative conditions such as to write a letter of apology to the victim of the assault. Other examples could be repair of damage or payment of compensation.

A Referral order can be for a minimum of three months and a maximum of 12 months. There is no limit on the number of referral orders a Court can make.

What if the charge is too serious for Referral order, what other community sentences are available?

This will depend upon the exact nature of the charge .A Youth Rehabilitation Order may be deemed suitable. This means working with the Youth Justice Team. The young person will be expected to carry out particular requirements of the order. Example of requirements may include to carry out unpaid work in the community or to be involved in drug treatment. There may also be a requirement of preventing youth from doing something such as carrying drug paraphernalia. 

What happens if a not guilty plea is entered at the Youth Court?

If a not guilty plea is entered the case will be listed for trial at a later date. The case will then be listed at a later date, usually before the youth court.

There are however circumstances where a young person must be sent to for trial to the Crown Court, such as if jointly charged with an adult, or for example charged with a grave offence such as murder.

If you are you child require help, please contact us directly via crimelawyers@freemanssolicitors.net or 020 7935 3522 always remembering that early advice is crucial for the best possible outcome. In the case of an emergency, please call our 24/7 number 07973 259382.