Going to court can be daunting, and you and your parents/carers may be worried about what could happen. It is important that you find a solicitor who can go through the process for you and advise you on what to do or say. If you come to court without a solicitor please let our YJS staff know so they can help you find a duty solicitor. Please attend court at the time given, either 9.30am for a morning appearance, or 1.30pm for an afternoon appearance. There will be an Usher in the court, please let the Usher know who you are, and whether you have a solicitor. The Usher will help guide you to the right courtroom and tell you how long you may have to wait until it is your turn.
If you are given a Community Order at court, a member of staff will have a conversation with you and your parents after the court hearing to get your contact details, and explain what will happen next. You will be allocated to a YJS Officer, who will be in contact with you as soon as possible and arrange an appointment so that they can start their assessment. An assessment is completed for every young person who is given a Court Order; this is to find out what support and interventions you may require to ensure that your likelihood of re-offending is decreased.
Please remember that you must attend all your appointments on the days/times given by your YJS Officer. If there is a valid and genuine reason as to why you cannot attend an appointment you must contact your YJS Officer as soon as possible to discuss this with them and rearrange your appointment. The YJS are committed to working with you to achieve the best for you and will try and be flexible with you where possible. However, this is at the discretion of your YJS Officer, and their ability to change your appointment. If you are regularly struggling to attend your appointments, a meeting will be held to discuss why and try to come up with a solution for all. Genuine reasons for missing an appointment can include:
- Illness (you must provide a doctor’s note for this)
- Court Appearance
- Police station interview
- Education/Training or Employment commitment
- Religious Commitments (i.e. celebrating Eid, Diwali, Hanukkah etc.)
- Personal events (i.e. attending a funeral)
Please be aware that the YJS will send you Warning letters for missed appointments without genuine reason and eventually send you back to court if you are late three times or more. This is called a ‘breach of order’.
Once you have informed the Usher that you have arrived, and have met with your solicitor the court will be informed that you are ready to go into the courtroom. In the Courtroom there will be a District Judge, or Magistrates. The Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will be there as well as your solicitor. There will also be a Clerk/Legal Advisor present to ensure that everything is being done in line with the law. There will also be a member of the YJS present, as well as the Usher. Your parents/carers can come into the courtroom with you but friends and relatives will have to wait outside.
When in the courtroom, you will be asked to stand and give your full name, date of birth and address. The charges will then be called out and you will be asked whether you plead Guilty or Not Guilty. Please make sure you talk to your solicitor about your pleas so that they can advise you on the process. If you Plead Guilty, the court will be looking at what Order to sentence you to (in some cases the court may not make a decision straight away and will ask the YJS to complete a ‘Pre-Sentence Report’ to help them decide which sentence to impose on you). If you Plead Not Guilty, a further date will be set for a trial to take place. Your solicitor will talk to you about your finances, in case you are given a fine at court so that the court can decide how much you will be fined and how this will be paid (e.g. weekly).
If you are on a court order you will be expected to attend the YJS to complete work with your YJS Officer. The frequency of your appointments will also be calculated using the assessment and so once the assessment period is over, and you have agreed on your interventions you will be informed of how many appointments per week you should attend the YJS. You will not be expected to miss school or college to attend appointments, and your YJS Officer will discuss with you what days/times are suitable for you. If you have any issues with any individuals or people living in certain areas please let your YJS Officer know so they can make sure that you are safe when attending your appointments.