Young people and sentencing

In 2009, the definitive sentencing guideline on the principles for sentencing youths was published setting out the principles relevant to sentencing young offenders.

Young people aren’t treated the same way by the courts as adults except for the most serious offences.

Offenders aged 10-17 are usually dealt with and sentenced in the youth court except for cases involving very serious offences, such as murder, or where the young person will be tried alongside an adult, which are dealt with and sentenced in the Crown Court.

Factors to consider

When sentencing a young offender, the court considers the main aim of the youth justice system – the prevention of offending by children and young people. It also considers the welfare of the child.

Other things that affect the sentence given to a young person include:

  • their age and maturity;
  • the seriousness of the offence;
  • their family circumstances;
  • any previous offending history;
  • whether they admitted the offence.

Sentencing Guidelines

Most sentencing guidelines do not cover offenders under the age of 18, as the sentencing framework is noticeably different for them.

Offence specific guidelines for youths have been included in sentencing guidelines for robbery, sexual offences and breach of an anti-social behaviour order.

For more information on youth justice, visit the Youth Justice Board website.