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Youth Justice Service FAQs for young people

What should I do if I have to go to court?

The first thing you should do if you have to go to court is to get a solicitor. If you cannot afford to pay for a solicitor, you should be eligible for legal aid, which covers a solicitor's fees. If you still don't have a solicitor by the time you get to court, you should ask at court for the duty solicitor.

Who else will be in the court?

The usher, the clerk, the prosecutor, your defence, the youth offending service and the magistrates.

What will happen if I plead guilty to an offence?

If a young person pleads guilty, the court has various options open to it: absolute discharge, hospital order, referral order or custody.

What happens if I plead not guilty to an offence?

In this case, the defence and the prosecution will probably ask for the case to be adjourned for a pre trial review, where the clerk of the court will set a date for the trial.

At the trial itself, once all of the prosecution case has been laid, the defence will start its case by calling its list of witnesses. This is then repeated, with the defence going first.

When this process has been completed, the magistrates will leave the court to discuss all of the evidence that they have heard and to decide whether or not the young person is guilty.

What happens if I am found guilty?

An order will be made by the court to determine the appropriate punishment.

What is a Pre-Sentence Report?

The Youth Justice Service is asked by the Court to prepare a Pre-Sentence Report, sometimes called a PSR. This is a written report to help the Court consider the choices open to it when you are sentenced.

On leaving the court, you will be given a time and date for an appointment to see a member of the Youth Justice Service. You must keep this appointment and if you are 16 years old or younger your parent or guardian must attend the appointment with you.

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