The “Criminal Law” and young people


Criminality, judges and sentences

The age of Criminal Law responsibility in Scotland is twelve years.

Children under 12 Criminal Law

Children younger than 12 years old can be referred for a hearing if they are at risk or vulnerable. This could be because they are stealing or assaulting others. Referred for their protection and care, not to commit an offense. Criminal law they can be helped by the hearing, which could include a mandatory supervision order.

Children younger than 12 years old cannot be convicted of a crime or have a criminal law record.

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Children between 12 and 15 years old Criminal Law

If you are between 12 and 15 years old and have committed a criminal law offense, you will most likely be referred by the Children’s Reporter. He’ll decide whether or not to refer you for a children’s hearing. A children’s hearing decision can be part of your criminal law record.

If the offense is serious, a child aged 12 and over may also be charged with a criminal offence.

Young people between 16 and 18 years old Criminal Law

The courts will usually deal with civil and criminal law offenders who are between 16 and 18 years old. If you are already under a child’s hearing order, you can’t be called to a hearing. The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service website has useful information for those who are going to court.

You should seek legal advice immediately if you or your child are facing criminal law proceedings.

Sentences and detention

A court can’t sentence anyone younger than 12 years old to prison.

Young offenders between 12 and 15 who are causing safety concerns for others or the public, will often be held in secure accommodation. Detention in a young-offenders’ institution can be given to offenders between 16 and 21 years old. If suitable secure accommodation is not available, a young person can be temporarily held in an adult prison.

A compulsory supervision order can be issued by the children’s hearing. This means that you, as a young adult, may need to live Police Scotland with foster parents or in a care home. A social worker will monitor your home and you may be allowed to stay there.

You may have the right to request the court to review your rights if your parent or caretaker is sent to jail.

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Debt Criminal Law

You can’t be held responsible for debts if you are under 16 years old. This could be a mobile phone contract, clothing, or food. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau if you are under 16 and don’t know if you are liable for any debts.

  • Discrimination
  • Discriminating against any person, even a child, is against the law.
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Maternity leave or pregnancy
  • Race, colour, nationality and ethnicity are all considered to be national origins.
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexuality

A person 16 years or older who is married or in a civil partnership can’t be discriminated because of this.

You might be protected against discrimination if it is against the law at the location where you live, such as a school or university, shop, pub, or other establishment.

  • Jury service
  • A jury can only be filled by persons over 18 years of age.
  • Legal assistance

For the cost of court proceedings, civil rights legal aid can be used to cover the costs. Legal advice and assistance can also be provided to assist with the legal fees of obtaining legal advice from a solicitor. You can apply for advice or legal aid if you are a young child. If you are 12 years old or older, it is assumed that you have enough understanding. Your eligibility for legal aid and advice and assistance is determined based on your resources.

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