If you are accused of breaking the law and are ordered to go to court, you will get a Duty Solicitor—a lawyer who is supplied to you for free. This is legal aid.
They will talk to you before your court case and will go to court with you to put your side of the story across. It’s very important for you to tell them everything and be honest with them, so they can help you.
If you are under 16, you must have a parent or guardian with you in court. If they aren’t there, it will hold up the process.
The Youth Court is for people aged 10 to 17. It isn’t as formal as adult court. You won’t see the judge and lawyers in wigs or gowns. If you are there because you have been accused of something, you will sit near the judge. Your lawyer will ask you questions, and so will the lawyer for the other side. They may also question witnesses or a victim, if there is one.
It will help you to stay calm and to speak clearly, taking the time you need for your answers.
If you are accused of something very serious, you may have to go to Crown Court, which is also where adults are sent.
Regulators make sure that lawyers do their job properly when they go to court. For example, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) makes sure that lawyers who are barristers do their job well. The BSB and other regulators are working to make standards in Youth Court as high as possible. They want young people to get the best legal support they can.
Lawyers are working harder to make sure that young people with special needs get the right help and support when they go to court.
If you have a legal problem and don’t know what to do, find out where you can get help.