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Sentencing youths

The approach taken when sentencing an offender aged 10-17 is different to those for adult offenders.

In 2009, the definitive sentencing guideline Overarching Principles: Sentencing Youths [PDF, 0.27mb] was published setting out the principles relevant to sentencing young offenders.


The powers of the court and approach taken when sentencing an offender aged 10-17 are different to those for adult offenders.

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 should have regard to:

  • the main aim of the youth justice system - the prevention of offending by children and young persons; and
  • the welfare of the child.

In addition to having regard to the factors above, the court will consider the following when determining the appropriate sentence:

  • the offender’s age;
  • the seriousness of the offence;
  • any aggravating or mitigating factors;
  • whether the offender pleaded guilty;
  • the relevant law;
  • any relevant sentencing guidelines.

Sentencing Guidelines

Most of the existing sentencing guidelines do not deal with sentencing young offenders under the age of 18, as the sentencing framework is noticeably different depending upon the age of the young offender.

Offence specific guidelines for youths have been included in the following sentencing guidelines:

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