Youth Offending Service
Before attending court
If you're charged with a crime you may need to attend court. Make sure your parents check to see if you're entitled to legal aid.
A solicitor represents you in court and gives you advice about what to do there. If you're able to get one before your case they will also talk to you before you go to court and tell you what will happen in the court room.
If you can’t get a solicitor before your case then when you arrive at court tell the usher you need to use the duty solicitor. There is always a solicitor in court who can represent you.
What to wear
You should try to look as smart as you can in court. If you have a white shirt and dark trousers or a skirt as part of your school uniform you can wear those.
Wear smart shoes instead of trainers and try to avoid wearing anything ripped or revealing if you can. Make sure your trousers are pulled up instead of sitting low. You are not allowed to wear hats in the court room.
Tips for attending court
Mencap's video, Raising Your Game - Getting ready for court, has useful advice for young people attending court.
What to expect in court and how to behave in the court room
Most cases where a young person is charged will be heard in youth court, which takes place on Wednesday every week. For a morning court appearance you should arrive at 9:30am. For an afternoon appearance, you should arrive at 1:30pm.
Report to the court usher when you arrive at court, they'll normally be holding a clipboard. They'll ask your name and who is representing you. If there is not anyone representing you they'll arrange for the duty solicitor to represent you. They will then tell you where to wait and in which court the case will be heard.
In the court room
Only parents, carers and close relatives like grandparents may go into the courtroom. Friends have to wait outside. There's a public gallery in the courtroom but it is closed and no one is allowed into it during youth court.
How the courtroom is set out for youth court is shown in our youth court layout map:
Youth court layout (PDF, 32 KB)
Your case will be heard by either a district judge or at least two lay magistrates. Your solicitor, the prosecutor for the crown and the clerk to the court who manages the business of the court are also present. There will also be staff from the youth offending service and a court usher.
You will sit next to your solicitor in the middle of the room. If you need a translator they will sit next to you to translate during the proceedings. If you do not need a translator but your family does they will sit behind you with your family.
When going in to the courtroom you will be shown to a seat and told to sit or stand. You will be asked your name and date of birth and enter a plea: guilty or not guilty. Your solicitor may ask you additional questions. The magistrate may ask your parents what they have done to stop you from offending.
Try to sit smartly in the court room and if you speak be polite and respectful. If you do not understand anything which is being said, put your hand up and ask for it to be explained.