One of the biggest differences about the Youth Court is the change in sentencing powers compared to the Magistrates Court:
- Unless the offence is a “grave crime”, the maximum sentence is 2 years Detention and Training Order (DTO).
- A Detention and Training Order is made up of half youth custody (detention in a Young Offender’s Institution), and half youth rehabilitation.
- If the Court does not think the case is serious enough to justify a DTO, the Community Penalties are different from those for adults. They are designed specifically for youths, and to address the types of factors involved in youth offending.
- If a youth has no previous convictions, pleads guilty to the charge, and the offence is not so serious to justify a DTO, the Court only has the power to impose a Referral Order. These are Orders managed by a Youth Offending Panel, to work with the defendant to prevent reoffending. The biggest advantage to the defendant of a Referral Order is that once the Order is complete, it becomes “spent”. This means that for most jobs, the defendant won’t have to disclose details of the conviction on the application form.