Can the law help me?

Growing up is not always easy.

Becoming homeless. Being a victim of a crime.  Being excluded from school. Being arrested.

In this information a young person means a person aged under 18. Young people can face problems which have a legal side to them. Whether you are a young person faced with a legal issue, or a parent/carer helping a young person deal with a legal problem, it's useful to know the facts.

Legal Issues

Crime or going to court

If you are stopped by the police, arrested or have to go to court you have legal rights:

  • If the police stop and search you they need to tell you why
  • You have the right to free legal advice if you are questioned by the police at the police station
  • You can choose your own solicitor or get a Duty Solicitor for free
  • Your lawyer will go to court with you to help fight your case

More on crime and going to court:

Housing / homeless

If you are homeless or need to leave home you have legal rights:

  • If you're under the age of 16, your parents must look after you and make sure you have somewhere safe to stay.
  • If you are forced to leave home or do not feel safe at home, social services can help.
  • Your local authority can help provide a place for you to stay if you are legally homeless.

For more information see the Shelter page on Homeless help if you're 16 or 17.


If you are at school you can:

  • Legally leave school if your age is 16 at the end of the summer holidays.
  • Start work, or take up an apprenticeship or training scheme. However there are things you also need to do until you are 18.

For more on schools and education see the Government's website.

Starting a job

  • If you want to work in a part-time job you must be at least 13
  •  You must be paid at least £3.87 an hour if you are aged 16 to 17
  • You have also got rights about the hours you can be asked to work, and where you are able to work.

Find out more on the Government's website.

Help with money

  • If you are under 16 you will usually need help from your parent or guardian to open a bank account.
  • If you are under 18 you will not be able to take out a loan from a lender like a bank.
  • If you find you are having problems with money you should get help quickly.

To find out more on other legal issues visit the the Lawstuff website.

Who can I talk to for advice?

There are organisations that you can talk to about your situation and your legal options. If it turns out that you need help from a lawyer with your situation these organisations can help you begin this process.  

  • Coram Children's Legal Centre is a charity which gives free legal advice and representation to children, young people, their families, carers and professionals.
  • NYAS can also help with advice and legal representation to children, young people and vulnerable adults. Childline can give you help with different situations you are facing.
  • Shelter is a charity that can offer advice and support if you are having problems at home or think you are going to become homeless.
  • Law Centres can help you to understand your legal options in different situations. If you don't want to go to a Law Centre in person, or are unable to, you can use telephone, email and text services too.
  • Citizens Advice offer a free service and can help you with your legal issues. You can visit your local Citizen's advice, call them or even have a web chat.
  • You can find a list of other sources of help and support for young people on the SupportLine website.