Youth Court

If you are accused of breaking the law and are ordered to go to court, you may be entitled to a Duty Solicitor—a lawyer who is supplied to you for free. This is called legal aid.

Your lawyer 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.

When in court, it will help you to stay calm and to speak clearly, taking the time you need for your answers.

The Youth Court is for people aged 10 to 17. It isn't as formal as adult court. You won't see the judge or lawyers in wigs or gowns, and you will be called by your first name. If you are under 16, you must have a parent or guardian with you in court. If you are aged 16 or 17, your parents may be ordered by the court to attend as well. If they aren't there, it will hold up the process.

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.

Preparing for a court appearance

You should receive a letter confirming the date, time and court location that you are due to attend. The information on this letter is important and you should read it before you go to court.

The lawyers working on the case you are appearing in will explain what you should expect to happen on the day and what, if anything, you should prepare for in advance.

For general information on preparing to attend court see our I’m due in court page.

Going to court as a witness under 18

If you have been the victim of or a witness to a crime, you might be asked to go to court to talk about your experience. It is important that you do not ignore this.

You should try your best not to worry and remember that you are not in any trouble.

You can get help throughout the process from the Witness Service. Whoever asked you to attend court can make arrangements for the Witness Service to contact your parents or guardian before the trial to make sure you have the support you need.

The court will decide how you give evidence, but it is important you let them know your preference. You can discuss the options for giving evidence with the Witness Service.

For more information what to expect as a young witness, take a look at the Citizens Advice website.

More on going to court