Young people in court

Young victimBeing a young witness can make anyone feel stressed or intimidated and we work together with the police to make the experience as comfortable as possible for young victims and witnesses. We ensure that all prosecutors go through a mandatory introduction course into Youth Justice and we have full time prosecutors who specialise in youth cases.
The Court Process

When someone breaks the law or the police think that they may have broken the law, and there's enough evidence to prove that they did it, that person will have to go to court.

A trial will take place so the court can decide if the person did or didn't break the law. The court needs witnesses like you to describe what you've seen or heard to help them decide if someone is guilty of the crime. There are two different types of court - magistrates' courts and the Crown Court.

There are a number of magistrates courts in London, roughly one every borough. In the magistrates' court the case will be heard by two or three magistrates or a district judge, who decide whether the defendant is guilty. However, the magistrates may decide they do not have the appropriate powers to deal with the case and send it to the Crown Court.

One at a time, the witnesses tell the court what they know about what happened. The magistrates then listen carefully to all that is said. The prosecutor and the defence lawyer take turns to ask each witness questions. In a magistrates' or youth court, when the magistrates have listened to everyone, they go out of the court to a private room. They talk together and decide whether or not the defendant is guilty.

Cases at the Crown Court are heard before a judge and jury. The jury, made up of 12 members of the public, decides whether the defendant is guilty and the judge decides on the appropriate sentence. Like the magistrates, the judge and jury are told what has happened and questions are asked. The jury will then decide whether or not the defendant broke the law. When all the evidence has been heard, the members of the jury leave the courtroom. They talk about what they have heard and come to a decision.

Support to young witnesses at court

The Witness Service in London is run by Victim Support. They are based at court there to support you in giving your evidence and should be able to help you with any questions you have.

As a young witness, the court can do many things to help you give your evidence. These can include using TV links or screens so that you dont have to see the defendant face to face. More information on these measures can be found here.

You can find the Witness Service at court and details of how to contact them can be found on their website.

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