Committing Crime

How old do I Have to be?

If you’re aged 10-17 and have committed an offence, you’re a young offender.

The law says if you are over 10 years of age you know the difference between wrong and right therefore you can be held responsible even arrested.


Do young offenders go to prison?

Prison is NOT the preferred option and is only used as a last option.  A young person would not be sent to an adult prison, they would be sent to either for 12 to 17-year olds a Detention and Training Order, this can last from four months to two years. It combines time in prison with time under supervision in the community.


Young people under the age of 18 who are found guilty of the most serious crimes, like murder and serious assaults, can be detained for longer periods.

What are the alternatives to prison?

If it’s a first court trial and you plead guilty, you could be given a Referral Order, where you have to meet with a panel to agree a contract to repair any harm done and stop you doing it again. This is supervised by a local Youth Offending Team. Every borough has one.


  • There’s also community service or reparation, especially if you’re 16 or 17. This could be anything from picking up litter to cleaning grafitti off a wall, and can be for a number of hours.
  • And then there’s the ASBO, the Anti-Social Behaviour Order…


If I do something wrong do I immediately go to court?

Basically if you make a poor judgement or decision in life and commit a minor offence and it is your first time iyt is highly likley that you will be given a reprimand on your first occasion, a final warning on your second and then a charge and go to court on the third. However it must be stressed that this is only if a full and frank admission is made and that as previously stated the offence is of a minor nature.

Should the matter be serious ie some one is seriously hurt, a knife or other weapon is used then it is more likely that the matter will be sent to court or that if for a first instance the matter jumps from a reprimand to a final warning.

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