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Your first appearance in court - A guide for young people

If you have been charged with an offence and will be attending court for the first time, you are likely to have concerns about what is going to happen to you.

Your first court appearance will be at West Hampshire Magistrates Court on the Avenue in Southampton. You should go to the Youth Court entrance; which is at the side of the building. You will be searched by security when you enter and your name will be taken.

You will be directed to the first floor of the building and will be spoken to by a court usher. They will make a note of your name and ask if you have a legal representative.

You are entitled to seek legal advice should you wish to. If you do not have a solicitor and feel you require legal advice, a duty solicitor is available at the court, but you may have to wait to see them.

Who will I meet in court?

The other people that you meet in court will be:

  • A representative from the Youth Offending Service (YOS) who will advise the court regarding sentence options. The YOS Officer may speak with you and your family in court. They will record the court result and inform you what the outcome means for you and your family.

  • A Crown Prosecutor (CPS) who will prosecute the offence for which you have been charged with. They will inform the court of the details of the offence and any bail conditions which may be required.

  • A legal advisor who is there to advise the magistrates or district judge (dependant on who is sitting)

  • Either three magistrates who are laypeople, which means that they have not been trained in criminal law, but have undergone specific training for this role OR one district judge, who is a full-time member of the judiciary who hears cases in Youth Courts.

    There are usually two district judges who sit in the West Hampshire Youth Court.

Will other people be there?

The court will be a closed court. This means that members of the public are not allowed to sit in and view the proceedings.

What will happen in the court?

When your case is called on to be heard in the court you will sit near to the magistrates and the legal advisor will ask you to identify yourself. The charges will then be put to you and you will be asked to enter a plea.

If you plead not guilty then the court will hear an outline of the offence and a discussion may be held as to why you have pleaded 'not guilty'. The case will then be listed for a trial and a further court date will be set.

If you plead guilty then the Crown Prosecutor will inform the court about the offence and the magistrates will then ask your legal representative, if you have one, to provide information about you and your circumstances.

When will I be sentenced, if found guilty?

The court will hope to sentence you for your offences at the earliest opportunity and will aim to do this if possible on the first time you appear in court. If the offence is so serious and the court feel that a custodial sentence should be considered, then they will request that the Youth Offending Service complete a pre-sentence report (PSR). The court will adjourn for a period of about three weeks for this to be completed.

I need further information

Please contact us on 023 8083 4900 and ask for the duty officer.

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