Court procedures for young people

Pleading not guilty to an offence

In this case, the defence and the prosecution will probably ask for the case to be adjourned for a pre trial review.  This is simply a meeting between the two parties so that they can decide who they want to appear as witnesses at a trial.  Usually they do not need the young person to attend court for these, but sometimes they do.

At the actual pre trial review, the clerk of the Court will set a date for the trial. The defence solicitor will then send a letter to the young person and their parents telling them when they have to come back to court.

On the day of the trial the defence witnesses will be kept separate from the prosecution witnesses, and those who have been in court to give their evidence will not be allowed to talk to the people who have not yet done this. This is so that the next witnesses cannot be warned about what is asked in the court, as this would prejudice their evidence. Everyone who gives evidence at a trial will be asked to promise on the Bible that they will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  If people do not wish to promise in this way, they can affirm that they will tell the truth. For people of other faiths, there is the opportunity to promise in the manner that their faith allows.

The prosecution will start the trial by telling the magistrates what the police say happened during the offence.  They will question the witness that they are dealing with at the time, and then the Defence will ask the questions that they want answered.  Once this is done, the Magistrates may also have questions to ask.

Once all of the prosecution case has been laid, the defence will start their case by calling their list of witnesses.  The process above will be gone through again, but this time the defence gets to start first.

When all of this process has been gone through, the magistrates will leave the court to discuss all of the evidence that they have heard and to decide whether or not the young person is guilty.  If they are found guilty, then the process described above for people who have previous convictions will be followed.