At court

Attending court

  • You must make sure you attend court as not doing so is a serious offence. If you fail to turn up a warrant may be issued and you could be arrested.
  • If there is a very good reason why you cannot attend – you must let the court know straightaway and they will tell you what to do. For example, if you are ill you may have to send in a doctor’s note.
  • The court expects your parents / carers to attend and may order them to attend if you turn up on your own.
  • When you arrive at court you must sign in at the front desk and you will be shown where to wait.
  • If you do not have a solicitor you can ask to see one via legal aid.
  • Someone from the youth justice service will be there on court day and make sure you know what is going on and can answer any questions you might have.
  • You will be called into the court room and shown where to stand by the Court Usher.
  • The Court Clerk will read out the charge/s against you.
  • You will be asked to plead ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’.

What happens if you
plead guilty?

If you plead guilty the court may sentence you right away or they might ask for a report to give more information.

If a report is needed the court will tell you the date you should be in court again. Someone from the youth justice service will explain what is involved in preparing the report. An early guilty plea may reduce your sentence.

What happens if you
plead not guilty?

If you plead not guilty the case will be adjourned for a trial.

This will give your Solicitor and the Crown Prosecution Solicitor time to prepare their cases. That means they will gather all the information they can for the Magistrates who will find you either guilty or not guilty.

Case Adjourned

  • This means you will have to come back on another day.
  • Unconditional Bail means you are trusted not to offend again or to contact witnesses. You are also trusted to attend court on the new date.
  • Conditional Bail means the Magistrates may order you to keep to conditions they set. For example: stay at home during certain times and keep away from certain people. It is important that you keep to these conditions.
  • Sometimes the court will decide that it is necessary to remand you to custody. If this happens, you will have to go to a Youth Offender’s Institution (YOI) or a Secure Training Centre (STC) until the next court date.


  • The Magistrate will make a decision about sentencing after reading reports and hearing from the Crown Prosecution Service and defence solicitors.
  • You can find out more information in our court outcomes section or you can speak to a youth justice practitioner.