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.
If you need to attend court
The first thing a young person should do when notified that they have to go to court is to get a solicitor. As most young people cannot afford to pay for a solicitor, they should be able to get legal aid, which will pay these fees.
If, by the time they get to court, a young person still does not have a solicitor, they should ask at the court for the duty solicitor, who will advise them.
When arriving at court
Find the usher who is organising the court schedule for that day and inform them that you have arrived. If a young person is late, or fails to attend, it is taken quite seriously and will usually result in a warrant for his or her arrest.
Young people should be careful to arrive in good time for their appearance, and should attend with at least one of their parents, or another appropriate adult (preferably a relative).
The magistrates will expect a parent or relative to be in attendance
If no one attends with the young person, the court may put postpone to a later date and send a summons for the parent to attend on the next occasion. If the parent does not attend on the summons date, the court can issue a warrant for their arrest.
The youth offending service
The youth offending service will have a representative in the youth court to advise the magistrates of any information that they have about the young person.
The youth offending service representative will inform the court about a young person's compliance with previous sentences and any risk issues relevant to sentencing.
They ensure young people are aware of the requirements of orders, make arrangements for assessment reports to be written. The person in court will record court processes and outcomes so that a young person's progress through the court system will be monitored.
They are not lawyers, but have been trained on how to be magistrates by the Lord Chancellor's Department. They have specific rules that they have to abide by, and are guided through the process of dealing with offenders by a justice's manual (they will each have a copy of this book).