At what age can I…
At 10 you have full criminal responsibility for your actions and can be convicted of a criminal offence.
You cannot be convicted of a criminal offence under the age of 10. However, if you have done something that would be considered a crime if you were over the age of 10, a child safety order can be made by the court.
s.31 Children Act 1989. s.11 Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
If you are under 16, you can be under a local child curfew scheme, banning you from public places (except when with an adult) between 9pm and 6am.
s.14 Crime and Disorder Act 1998
From the age of 12 if you are arrested, you can be kept in police detention or in Local Authority accommodation.
From age 15 if you are convicted of a criminal offence, you can be fined by the Youth Court up to a maximum of £1,000.
s.100 Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000
From age 15 if you are convicted of a crime, other than homicide or a serious crime, and the offence is so serious that only a custodial sentence is appropriate, or you are a persistent offender, you may be sentenced to a detention and training order for a maximum of two years.
From 17, you can be given a reprimand or warning without an ‘appropriate adult’ being present.
s.65 Crime and Disorder Act 1998
From age 18 criminal charges against you will be dealt with in the adult courts.
s.46(1) Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and s.68 Criminal Justice Act 1991
You can give evidence in a criminal investigation or trial at any age as long as you understand the questions being asked and can give clear answers.
s.53 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999
If you are under 14, you will give unsworn evidence which means you will not have to give an oath first.
s.55 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999
If you are under the age of 17 or are the victim of a sexual offence, you will usually give your evidence through a video interview.
Part II s.19-30 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999
If you are under 17 or have special needs, you can give evidence through a third party or use communication aids.
ss.16-30 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999
You can give evidence in civil proceedings at any age. If the court thinks that you do not understand the nature of any oath, you can give unsworn evidence.
s.96 Children Act 1989
For more information, see Being a witness in court.