This is an extract of our Youth Courts document, which we sell as part of our BPTC Criminal Litigation Notes collection written by the top tier of City Law School students.
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Person aged 10-17 commits an offence ? youth justice system.
2 aims of youth justice system:
o (1) prevent children and young people from reoffending;
o (2) have regard to the welfare of the child/young person.
o in context of crim procedure and mode of trial, adult = Person aged 18 or over
In context of sentencing, 'adult' sometimes means a person aged 21 or over, as an offender becomes liable to imprisonment (CF detention in a YOI for 18-21)
o Person under 18 (same as 'young defendant' or (after conviction) 'young offender'.
o (NB: prior to 27 October 2013, PACE used 'juvenile' to apply to under 17)
o 'juveniles' divides into: (a) children (aged under 14) and (b) young persons
(aged 14-17 inclusive).
o S107 Children & Young Persons Act: a 'child' is a person under 14.
o S107, 'young person' is between 14 and 17 (inclusive)
"Persistent Young Offender (PYO)"
o No statutory definition
Guidance in 'Overarching Principles: Sentencing Youths': a young person is likely to be categorized as a PYO if they have been convicted of, or made subject to a pre-court disposal that involves an admission or finding of guilt in relation to,
imprisonable offences on at least 3 occasions in past 12 months.
o Some sentences are only available to a PYO,eg a Detention and Training Order when offender is under 15.
Alternatives to prosecution/out of court disposals for youths (not examinable)?Sometimes, youths who have committed an offence can be dealt with by out of court disposals rather than prosecuting them (i.e. rather than charging them and requiring them to appear before court).
Purpose of out of court disposals = to reduce risk of further reoffending by the youth;
and serve as a proportionate response to the crime committed.
The police have a range of options, depending on the seriousness of the offence &
circumstances of the offender, eg: ?
o Taking no further action
Youth Caution or Youth Conditional Caution
A caution = a formal procedure, by which a youth can admit their guilt when an allegation is made, and the police administer a caution rather than taking the matter to court.
o [NB, before 8 April 2013, youth cautions were known as 'reprimands and warnings'].
Court process for youths?
Presumption ? youths will be dealt with summarily and by the Youth Court (s24(1)
S24(1): unless a juvenile is sent to Crown Court for trial, he must be tried summarily.
Age??Children under 10 ? cannot be convicted of a criminal offence. Presumption: they are not criminally responsible prior to this age (s50 Children & Young Persons Act 1933).
o There used to be rebuttable presumption that a child aged 10-14 was incapable of committing a criminal offence, but that was abolished.
The KEY RELEVANT DATE = their age at the first hearing (CF relevant date for sentencing is age at date of conviction)
o If a young person is aged 17 when arrested & charged, but attains 18 before their first court appearance ? the Youth Court has no jurisdiction to hear their case, as they are know an adult, so will appear before the adult m' court.
Where a person who appears to court to be under 18 is brought before a court ? court is to make 'due inquiry' as to his age (If there is any dispute or uncertainty re the age when it appears to the court that he is a child/young person ? court will be required to determine the issue (to make due inquiry as to the age), to establish whether offender should be treated as a youth or adult.
o There is no set procedure for how this should be done; but evidence can be called, court must take into account any relevant evidence.
o Court is permitted to accept what the offender, or his parent/guardian, says on the matter; but further enquiries can be made if there is any doubt.
o Where there is doubt, proper course is for court to conduct an inquiry as to age.
However, if it is subsequently discovered that the court was incorrect as to age ? any orders or judgments (eg findings of guilt and sentences) will not be invalidated (s99
The age presumed or declared by the court to be the age of the person shall be deemed to be the true age of that person (for the purposes of this Act) ? and so if court declares he is under 18, that person is deemed a child/young person.
o S150(4) MCA: there is a presumption that an offender is whatever age he is declared to be by the court having considered the available evidence at that time;
o so, if after the conclusion of proceedings, it is discovered that the offender's age was wrongly stated to the court ? any orders/judgments (eg findings of guilt and sentences) will NOT be nullified as a result (s150 MCA).
Location of first hearing??
Presumption ? first hearing in Youth Court (s24(1) MCA)
EXCEPTIONS, where youth will have first hearing before adult magistrates' court (all involving connected with an adult):
o (a) the youth is jointly charged with an adult
(b) the youth is charged with aiding & abetting an adult to commit an offence;
o (c) an adult is charged with aiding & abetting a youth to commit an offence; or
(d) the youth is charged with an offence that arises out of the same circumstances or is connected with the offence that the adult is charged with.
An adult can never appear before the Youth Court (unless a youth becomes an adult during the course of proceedings, after the first hearing)
It will usually be appropriate for the juvenile to be produced in person at court (rather than appearing via a live link where that would otherwise be permissible) to ensure proper engagement with the juvenile.
Composition and procedure in the Youth Court??Youth courts are essentially magistrates court (s45 CYPA 1933).
So trials in youth court are a form of summary trial.
However, Youth Court can also try indictable-only offences.
Youth Court will consist of either:
o (a) District Judge sitting alone (as in adults m' court); OR
o (b) not more than 3 magistrates, including a man and a woman
-(if there are no male or female justices available, the parties are consulted and can agree to a different constitution of the court).
o Magistrates and District Judges are required to undergo specialist training to sit in Youth Court.
Reporting Restrictions apply automatically to youths under 18 who appear in Youth
o They can be lifted, but that is rare before conviction ??
o (CF adult m' court and Crown Court, where reporting restrictions are discretionary)
The Youth Court is not a public court (CF adult m' court or Crown Court, unless sitting in Chambers).
Who can be present in a youth court? (public are excluded) (CYPA s47 and CrimPR
a) Members and officers/officials of the court (magistrates, court ushers etc)
b) Parties to the case before the court (the accused and their parents/guardians)
& their legal reps (lawyers in other cases cannot enter the courtroom)
c) Witnesses are allowed to remain in court once they have given evidence).
d) Bona fide representatives of newspapers or news agencies (but note reporting restrictions)
e) other persons directly concerned in the case (i.e probation officers, social workers)
f) Such other persons as the court may specially authorize to be present (eg pupil barristers, other relatives of the accused).
The public is excluded from Youth Court
CF, where juvenile appears as an accused or witness in an adult m' court or Crown
Court ? public is not excluded, (unless exceptionally court decides to sit in private (in camera)).Attendance of parent/guardian
If the accused is under 16 (aged 10-15) ? the court MUST require a parent or guardian to attend with the youth, at all stages of proceedings, UNLESS and to the extent, that the court is satisfied that it would be unreasonable to require such attendance, having regard to all the circumstances of the case (s34A CYPA).o If the accused is aged 16 or 17 ? the court MAY require a parent/guardian to attend.
o A "guardian" = anyone who 'has for the time being the care of the child or young person' (s107).
o A "parent" includes an adoptive parent.
o If the youth is under the care of a local authority ? their representative must/
may attend instead of (or sometimes in addition to) the parent.
Proceedings are more informal than in adult courts, eg:
a) Lawyers and witnesses remain seated b) Lawyers are not robed c) D sits in a chair, not in the dock, and usually sits near his parent/guardian d) D and any youth witnesses are addressed by their first names e) If the youth or youth witness needs to take an oath, the oath will be 'to promise'
to tell the truth (CF 'to swear' in adult m' court).
f) The language used is different for juveniles tried summarily:
-Instead of 'conviction' = 'finding of guilty' 'sentence' = 'order made on a finding of guilty'
[[NB, this terminology also applies to proceedings against youths in adult m' court; but NOT in Crown court]]
Procedure in Youth court, first hearing: Court must ask the youth to enter a plea on the first occasion
If a request to adjourn the hearing is made & granted ? the case will be adjourned for the shortest possible time.
o If youth enters guilty plea ? the court should endeavour to pass sentence on the same day; but may need to adjourn for PSR.
o If enters not guilty plea
-? parties will be asked to complete a case management form;
-directions will be made for future management of the case, including:
identification of the issues in dispute; which witnesses will be required.
-Court will actively manage the case and will ask questions where appropriate, to ensure smooth running of proceedings.
-Eg, if a weak defense is raised, court is obliged to question this and probe the answers it receives.
The course of the trial in Youth Court is essentially the same as a trial in adult m' court
(part 24 CrimPR applies to both)??
Where will a youth be tried? ? determining mode of trial?Most youths tried in Youth court, notwithstanding the seriousness of the offence ?
s24(1) MCA presumption, even in cases of indictable-only offences (except homicide and certain firearm offences).
o Trials in youth court are essentially summary trials; but Youth court has jurisdiction to try cases which, in the case of an adult, are triable only on indictment (with exception of homicide and certain firearms offences).
Youth has no right of election to Crown Court when charged with an either-way offence.
5 certain situations, youth must be tried in the CROWN COURT:
o Youth charged with homicide (murder or manslaughter)
o Youth charged with a firearms offence where, if convicted, subject to a mandatory minimum sentence under s51A Firearms Act 1968;
o or, using someone to mind a weapon under s29(3) Violent Crime
Reduction Act 2006 (minimum sentences)
o (1) Youth charged with a 'grave crime' (s91) AND (2) sentencing powers insufficient (> 2 years):
o (1) is a 'grave crime' s91 PCC(S)A 2000):i.e. an offence (a) carrying at least 14 years' imprisonment or (b) one specified in s91 itself; ?o AND (2) Youth Court has determined that, if convicted, a s91 sentence beyond its powers would be available (max detention in Youth Court =
o (1) s224/sch 15 CJA specified offence AND (2) meets criteria for extended sentence ('dangerous offender' provisions)
o Youth charged with a 'specified offence' under s224 CJA 2003 (listed in sch 15);
o AND appears to court that if found guilty or pleads guilty he will be sentenced as a 'dangerous offender'
i. (i.e. criteria for imposition of an extended sentence would be met,
i.e. (a) deemed dangerous [significant risk to public...] and (b)
warrants custodial sentence 4+ years).
o A youth (1) jointly charged with an adult who has been sent to Crown court;
AND (2) court discretion re whether in 'interests of justice' to send them both to Crown Court for trial.
Allocation/mode of trial (if required): where mode of trial is in issue, procedure is same as in m' court.
o However, the youth has no right to elect Crown Court trial ? he can only make representation for or against youth court trial.
Youth will only be tried in an adult MAGISTRATES COURT only where: juvenile is charged alongside an adult.
Plea before venue procedure for juveniles??Normal rules re allocation/mode of trial do not apply to juveniles.
Most youths will be tried in Youth Court (which are magistrates courts, s45 CYPA), and generally there will be no mode of trial issue.
However, occasionally youth will be sent to Crown Court for trial, because magistrates have declined jurisdiction.
There will be a plea before venue procedure in following circumstances:
o (a) where the youth is charged with a 'grave crime' (s91 PCC(s)A); or
(b) where the youth is jointly charged with an adult (sent to Crown Court for an indicatble offence) and court needs to determine whether in interests of justice to send youth for trial at Crown Court with the adult.
S24A-D MCA ? the plea before venue procedure for youths
Is similar plea before venue procedure as for adults charged with an either-way offence;
o Juvenile is invited to indicate whether he intends to plead guilty or not guilty
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