Children & Young Persons

We cannot stress too strongly how vital it is that a solicitor is instructed in matters involving young people, particularly those aged 17 or younger.  Different rules apply to children and young people and in many ways the system governing how they should be dealt with is far more complex than the system for adults.

We have vast experience of dealing with young people caught up in the system.  In virtually all cases, we can represent young people free of charge.  Legal Aid is free to the under 18s and it doesn’t matter whether they have an income or how much their parents earn.
Whether a child or young person is under arrest at the police station, or has to appear at court, it is vital that you achieve the best possible outcome for him or her.


If you represent my child, will you send me a bill?

No.  In just about every case you child will be granted Legal Aid which covers representation at all stages of the proceedings.

Will we have to go to court?

In many cases, especially those involving children with little or no police record, it may be possible for the police to deal with the case without it going to court.  Much depends on the strength of the evidence, the seriousness or otherwise of the accusation and whether or not the young person admits doing something wrong.  We can of course give more specific advice once we know the full circumstances.

My son is 15 and has to go to court.  Do I have to go too?

At that age, the court will almost certainly insist on a parent being present and may adjourn the case if the person with responsibility for the young person is not present.  The court will sometimes, reluctantly, deal with 17 year olds who attend court unaccompanied by a parent. But it never goes down particularly well.

What effect will it have on my child’s future if he or she is found to have committed an offence?

If the matter is dealt with by the police, by way of a reprimand or a final warning, then this does not count as having a conviction.  If the case goes to court, and your child is found guilty or pleads guilty, he or she will have been convicted of the offence in question.  Such convictions become “spent” after a fairly short period and don’t have to be declared to potential employers in most circumstances. That said, the impact of enhanced criminal record checks may be far more profound than anyone imagined.  There is a school of thought which holds that the fact that someone was caught up in the system as a child may come back to haunt them many years down the line.  For this reason if no other, proper legal advice at an early stage is vital.

Can the court make any orders against me if my son is convicted of an offence?

Yes.  The court can order you to pay any compensation or costs that would have been payable by your son were he an adult.  In addition, if your son receives what is called a Referral Order (a very common sentence for young people before the court for the first time) the court will order you to attend meetings with the Youth Offender Service together with your son.  You can be fined if you do not attend.
The court also has the power to make what is called a Parenting Order against you.  If your son is under 16 there is a legal presumption that it will do so.  However, if your family’s situation is properly explained to the court it may be possible to avoid this.