Changes to Youth Court Sentencing
The introduction of the Legal Aid and Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 has given the Youth Court wider powers in respect of referral orders.
Prior to this Act, if a juvenile appeared before the court for the first time and pleaded guilty the court (in most cases) would sentence to a Referral Order. The length would be between 3-12 months. It could be extended if new offences were committed whilst on the order, but it could not exceed 12 months. Once it has expired the juvenile could not get another Referral Order if a new offence was committed.
The new Act gives the court the power to impose a further Referral Order if the juvenile re- offends after completing a previous Order. This is on the proviso they plead guilty to the new offence.
This will benefit many young offenders. An important asset of the Referral Order is that it becomes a spent conviction once completed, allowing it to not significantly affect a young person’s future job prospects.