Court process


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Concurrent orders

It is essential that young people aged under 18 and their families understand the court process and are provided with appropriate support, guidance and assistance (Scottish Government, 2011; Smith, Dyer and Connelly, 2014). This is key as young people report experiencing the court process as:

“…a series of ‘rapid fire judgements’, from being in the cells, to seeing the social worker, to meeting your legal advisor and on to the courtroom. They felt lost and unsupported by all those they came into contact with during the process” (Cook, 2015, p.9).

This means all professionals must be able to provide clear and accurate information and any necessary support.


Types of criminal justice procedure


Types of court

High Court

Deals with the most serious cases including all cases of rape and murder. There is no limit on the length of custodial sentence or amount of fine that this court may impose.

Sheriff Court

Deals with all other criminal cases and:

Justice of the Peace Court

Deals with minor cases. Maximum sentence 60 days in custody; maximum fine £2,500.


At court

Who will be in court?

The accused’s solicitor, the prosecutor and the clerk of court, will normally sit facing the sheriff, judge or JP in an area known as the well of the court. The judge’s seat is known as the bench.


At the start of a case

The young person may be asked if they plead guilty or not guilty to the charges:

The court will decide what happens to the young person while awaiting trial:


At the trial

Both the prosecutor and the accused may call witnesses to give evidence.

The length of time needed for a trial varies.


After all the evidence has been presented

The jury, sheriff, judge or JP decides on one of three verdicts:

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