Youth court

All defendants under the age of 18 are youths for the purposes of the jurisdiction of the courts and the presumption is that youths should be dealt with by a specially constituted youth court, which is a court of summary jurisdiction.

The youth court is like the Magistrates’ court in that it is a court of summary jurisdiction. However, the courtroom and the proceedings are modified to take account of the age group with which the court is dealing. The layout of the courtroom which is less formal than its adult counterpart; tables are usually used instead of rows of imposing benches, there are also reporting restrictions in a youth court.

The only reasons a youth case will go to the Crown Court is if the defendant is co-accused with an adult, or if the defendant is charged with a “grave crime.” A “grave crime” is an offence which carries a possible maximum sentence of 14 years or more, and the Court rules that the maximum sentence in the Youth Court would not be sufficient.

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