There is an increasing tendency to treat young people’s brushes with the law out of court wherever possible. Young offenders frequently receive warnings or reprimands in relation to their behaviour, in other words a dressing down from a senior police officer.
The use of fixed penalty notices, previously not used outside of road traffic crimes, is now extremely common. The fines themselves can be hefty and the notices also recorded for future reference (however it does not need an admission of guilt and therefore is not the same as a reprimand or final warning where both an admission and clear admissible evidence should be present). It is always tempting to take up such an offer as opposed to having to go to court with the upset and inconvenience that carries. An innocent person should always maintain their innocence.
Thanks to Andrew Keogh, criminal defence lawyer and editor of CrimeLine for his help with this section and an earlier version which appeared in A Parent’s Guide to the Law by Jon Robins (LawPack , 2009). We’re grateful also to Kim Evans for her help.
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award