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South Gloucestershire Youth Offending Team
Arriving At Court | In Court | Admitting / Denying The Charge(s) | Bail Support and Supervision
Pre-Sentence Reports | The Decision | Sentencing | Committal To Crown Courts | Appeals

Arriving At Court:
Different arrangements are in place at different Youth courts but there will always be someone from the local YOT team there. If you have been told to attend North Avon Youth Court in Yate , someone from the South Gloucestershire YOT will be there when you arrive.

They will explain what will happen, who will be in the Court Room and why, and check that you have a solicitor and/ or appropriate adult with you.

What Happens at Court?
The Crown Prosecution Service decides whether to prosecute. The first stage in the court process involves the court accepting the responsibility for hearing the case (jurisdiction).

Youth and magistrates courts accept jurisdiction for the majority of cases involving Young People. For more serious offences such as burglary the youth court hears the details and can decide to pass the case onto the Crown Court if it feels that the offence is too serious to be dealt with at the Youth Court. Also magistrates can decide half way through a case that the offence is too serious for youth court, so they can still send it up to crown court.
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In Court:
In the Court will be the Magistrates, The Crown Prosecutor, The Magistrates Clerk, your Solicitor and someone from the local YOT. Courts are very formal. If you want to make good impression in court the following points may be helpful:
  • Try to be neat and tidy in your dress and appearance
  • Don't put your hands in your pockets, it is best to keep them by your side
  • Don't eat or chew gum in court
  • Remove your Cap
If you want to say something to the Magistrates but feel nervous about speaking in court, write down what you want to say and hand your note to the solicitor or the Court Clerk. When you are speaking to the Magistrates, address them as 'Sir' or 'Madam'.

Do not be afraid to ask if you do not understand anything. It can be explained to you. If you or your parent/guardian or other adult attending with you do not speak or understand English well, you can ask for help.
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Admitting / Denying The Charge(s):
When you first go into Court the Clerk will check your name, address and date of birth. They will then read out the offences with which you are charged. You will then be asked whether you wish to plead 'guilty' or 'not guilty'.

You can then do one of three things:
  • You can ask for a delay (an adjournment) to give you time to talk to a solicitor about your case
  • You can deny the offence (plead 'not guilty')
  • You can admit the offence (plead 'guilty')
What Happens If I Plead Guilty?
You should not do this unless you have first discussed it with a solicitor. If you plead guilty you may be dealt with there and then. Sometimes the case will be put off (adjourned) until a later date to allow the Court to find out more about you.

What Happens If I Plead Not Guilty?
An acceptable date for the trial is set according to the availability of witnesses. The case will then be adjourned to a later date for a Trial to be listed. A 'Pre trial review' can sometimes take place a few weeks before the trial; this is to ensure that everyone is ready to undertake the trial. At the trial witnesses can be called by both yourself and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Your solicitor should have already discussed the case with you and written down your version of events. This is then presented to the magistrates with statements from any witnesses.

If there is a chance that the court want to keep you in custody or secure accommodation (remand) we may offer a special programme called Bail Support and Supervision. You will see a bail support worker to talk over what help you need whilst on bail. This usually takes place at court.
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Bail Support and Supervision:
Who decides if you take part in the Bail Support Scheme?
You, the court and the Bail Support Scheme. You will see a bail support worker to talk over what help you need whist on bail. This usually takes place at court

What's Expected of You?
To keep to all your bail conditions, for example, curfew and/or reporting at police station and to keep out of trouble. You will also see the bail support worker regularly for appointments

What Happens on Bail?
You will work on the areas put to the court. These could be:
Employment, Education, accommodation, use of leisure time, advice and support, help with drug or alcohol issues, offending work, benefits, advice, support you and help you stick to your conditions of bail and going back to court when asked.

What Happens When I'm Sentenced?
If you're still on bail support at time of sentencing your bail support worker will put a report into court letting them know how your programme has gone.
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Pre-Sentence Reports:
These are prepared by a worker from the Youth Offending Team and will give the Magistrates relevant information about you.

When you come before the Court to be sentenced you and your parent / guardian will be given a copy of the report. You should read it very carefully. If you feel any part of the report is wrong or unfair, speak to the officer present at Court and to your solicitor.

What Happens at Trial?
All witnesses go to court and are cross-examined etc. The Verdict is considered by magistrates in the case of youth court or by a jury in crown court and then given.
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The Decision:
If you are found guilty or if you plead guilty the Crown Prosecutor will tell the Magistrates about the offence(s) and whether you have any previous convictions or Police cautions. If you disagree with anything they read out you should tell your solicitor immediately. Your solicitor will then speak for you, giving the Magistrates any reasons or explanations concerning your behaviour. Any reports available will also be read.

When the evidence from both sides has been heard the Magistrates will then retire (leave the courtroom) to reach a decision. They will take into account the seriousness of the offence, any previous record, your general behaviour and the likelihood of your offending again. When they return you should stand up and remain standing whilst they give their decision.
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Sentencing:
There are a number of ways you can be dealt with. Ask your solicitor, or a Youth Offending Team worker to discuss likely sentences with you.

The more usual sentences are: Note: Failure to comply with any of the above Court Orders will result in the case being referred back to the Court. This may result in re-sentencing for the original offence, as well as for the additional 'breach' offence.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
Information on a past criminal conviction is something that you may want to keep private. But, other people may need to know about your previous convictions. Click here for more information
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Committal To Crown Courts:
The Magistrates in the Youth Court may decide to commit the case to the Crown Court where a Judge makes the sentencing decisions. They will do this for all very serious offences that might result in longer custodial sentences than those, which the Magistrates can impose. If you are found guilty or if you plead guilty the Crown Prosecutor will tell the Magistrates about the offence(s) and whether you have any previous convictions or Police cautions. If you disagree with anything they read out you should tell your solicitor immediately. Your solicitor will then speak for you, giving the Magistrates any reasons or explanations concerning your behaviour. Any reports available will also be read.
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Appeals:
If you are unhappy about the result of your court case you should discuss an appeal immediately. Appeal papers have to be filed in court within 21 days of your conviction or sentence. If you appeal against a custodial sentence, you can apply to be bailed until the appeal hearing.
Appeal cases are heard at the Crown Court, for orders made at the Youth Court. For Orders made at the Crown Court an appeal is heard at the Court of Appeal in London. It is important to remember that the court can increase or decrease the original sentence.
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