Whilst in court
A youth court is less formal than an adult magistrates' court or a Crown Court. Members of the public aren't allowed in to the court room.
A court usher will call you into the courtroom at the time of your case. The court's legal adviser will read out the offence you've been charged with. You will then be asked if you wish to admit or deny the charge - this is your 'plea'.
Usually three magistrates will hear your case, but sometimes a district judge will do this instead.
The magistrates or judge will:
- listen to all the evidence
- decide whether you are guilty or not guilty (there is no jury)
- if you are guilty, decide what sentence to give you.
For serious crimes, the youth court may decide that the case has to go to the Crown Court. If this happens, a new date will be set for your case. In the meantime you will be put on 'remand', and either allowed to go home (on 'bail') or kept in custody.
If you admit the offence
If you admit that you did the crime, the court will deal with your case quickly. The evidence against you will be read out. If the court agrees that you are guilty it will decide what sentence to give you. This decision is based on many different things.
If you deny the offence
The court will ask for evidence about what happened. The prosecution lawyer (the person that is trying to prove that you did the crime) presents the evidence.
Some witnesses may be called to tell the court what you did, and the prosecution lawyer will ask them questions. Your defence lawyer will then ask questions to check the witnesses are sure of their facts. After this, your defence lawyer will call any witnesses for you. You also might have to answer questions from your lawyer, the magistrates or judges, and the prosecution lawyer.
When they have listened to all the evidence from both sides the magistrates or judges will decide if you are guilty or not guilty.
Sometimes your case will be postponed so that the prosecution lawyer and your defence lawyer can gather evidence and witnesses. If this happens you will be put 'on remand'. This could mean you can go home on bail, or be kept in custody.
If you are found not guilty
If the court decides decide you are not guilty you will be free to go. This is sometimes called being 'acquitted'.
If you are found guilty
If you are found guilty the court will need to decide what kind of sentence to give. You can either be given a community sentence, or a sentence you will serve in custody.