Can my child be charged with a criminal offence?
The age of your child will determine whether or not they can be charged with a criminal offence. If your child is under 10 years of age, they are not criminally responsible. Aged between 10-18 they could be charged with a criminal offence, but there are different procedures for the police and Court to follow than would apply for an adult. The police will contact you as a parent or guardian if your child is under 18 and they are alleged to have committed an offence which they want to speak to/interview him or her about.
My child has been arrested- what should I do?
If your child is arrested or asked to attend a police station as a volunteer, they have the right to speak to an independent solicitor. We strongly recommend you ensure your child receives expert legal advice at this crucial stage as what happens in the police interview will determine how the remainder of the case proceeds.
The police must inform your child of their rights whilst their ‘appropriate adult’ is present at the police station. One of those rights is to have a legal representative represent them during the interview. An appropriate adult is permitted to request a solicitor on their child’s behalf.
An appropriate adult can be a family member (most usually a parent or guardian) or the police can supply one. Unless a delay would result in an immediate risk of harm to someone or serious loss of or damage to property, the police should not commence the interview with your child until an appropriate adult is in attendance. If you cannot attend, the police must ensure that there is an independent appropriate adult in attendance to make sure your child receives fair treatment during the police interview.
How will my child benefit from a solicitor when attending a police interview?
There are a number of ways that matters can be dealt with by the police without your child having to attend court. The chances of you securing an outcome of this kind are significantly increased if your child is represented by an expert solicitor. Our specialist lawyers are vastly experienced at assisting youths in police stations and ensuring their best interests are protected at all times.
Our specialist solicitors can advise both your child and you of the offence your child is being investigated with, the strength of the evidence against them, and whether they should answer the questions during the interview or not. The importance of such advice should not be underestimated.
A criminal record can bring serious, life changing consequences for young people. It has the potential to affect their current education, university dreams and their career choices. As your children’s future is on the line, obtaining specialist legal advice is essential.
What is the Youth Court?
The Youth Court deals with all but the most serious cases involving defendants aged under 18. The Youth Court is designed to be more informal than the Magistrates and Crown Court, and aims to focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment. Youth Court proceedings are held in private- there is no jury and members of the public are not allowed into the court room.
If your child is charged with a crime, they will either be granted bail or remanded to a local Authority care or secure accommodation. The child’s parent or guardian will be required to attend the Youth Court with the child. Someone from local Youth Offending Team will also attend court.
For very serious crimes, the Youth Court may decide a child’s case has to be referred to the Crown Court. Additionally, if your child is charged with an adult their case may be sent to the Crown Court.
What will happen if my child is remanded in custody? Will my child be sent to adult prison?
Your child is more likely to be remanded in custody if they have offended numerous times before or if they are charged with a very serious offence. Your child will not be sent to an adult prison. They will stay in a young offenders institution.
How are sentences decided for young people?
When a young person admits to or is found guilty of an offence, they will be given a sentence by the court. The sentence can range from a fine to youth detention.
Prior to issuing a sentence, the court will learn about your child’s background, which will be presented in a pre-sentence report prepared by The Youth Offending Team. If the case is heard at the Youth Court one of our experienced solicitors will highlight to the Judge the mitigating circumstances. The court will base the sentence off the content of both reports and the mitigating circumstances.
What factors will affect a young person’s sentence?
Various factors are taken into account by the court which will affect a young person’s sentence. Your child’s sentence will depend on:
- Whether or not they admitted the crime
- How serious the crime is
- If they have committed any previous offences
- Their age
- If they have shown any remorse
- Their background and personal circumstances.
- Any mitigating circumstances
What are mitigating circumstances?
The Youth Court will take into account any mitigating circumstances, which may reduce the sentence given. Mitigating circumstances may identify the reasons that may have led you to your child committing the crime. These circumstances could include:
- Family circumstances
- Experiences at school
- Neighbourhood problems
- Health issues
My child has breached their court order- what should I do?
Courts take breaches of court orders very seriously. If your child has breached their court order, we strongly advise that you seek expert advice immediately. The court will have the power to re-sentence your child for the original. Our solicitors will ensure the repercussions of any breach are minimised as much as possible.
How can Stephensons help my child?
Our friendly, specialist solicitors can advise in simple terms the offence for which your child is being investigated for or charged with, the strength of the evidence against them, and whether they should plead guilty or not guilty. We will help to ensure at every stage your child and you understand exactly what is going on.
We can liaise with legal professionals, the Youth Offending Team, social services and other persons to ensure we secure the best outcome for your child.
Our service to you will not end once your child has been sentenced our team will ensure your child understands exactly what the court or police expects of them and answer any questions you may have. If you do require assistance for your child please do not hesitate to contact someone from the team for confidential advice on 0161 696 6188 or complete an online enquiry form.