A person between the ages of 10 and 17 who has committed a crime (see doli capax); an offender between the ages of 14 and 17 is known as a young offender. A juvenile offender cannot be tried on indictment except when charged with: (i) homicide; (ii) a firearms offence carrying a mandatory minimum sentence; (iii) a violent or sexual offence for which an adult could be sentenced to at least 10 years' imprisonment; (iv) certain other offences listed in the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 s 91, including causing death by dangerous driving; or (v) an offence for which he is jointly charged with someone aged 18 or over when it is considered necessary that they be tried together. In all other cases, juvenile offenders must be tried summarily by a magistrates' court or a youth court.
A juvenile offender cannot be sentenced to imprisonment; instead he may be sentenced to a detention and training order of up to two years, half of which is normally served in a young offenders' institute and half in the community. If found guilty of murder or some other grave crime he must be detained in a place and on such conditions as the Home Secretary may determine. The Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 provides that the Parole Board, rather than the Home Secretary, has responsibility for the release of juveniles convicted of murder. A juvenile offender may not be made subject to a community order before the age of 16 but a youth community order may be imposed. He may be fined or bound over (see bind over); he may also be discharged (absolutely or conditionally). The procedures for dealing with juvenile offenders are now governed by the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000, and the Criminal Justice Act 2003. See also child safety order; parenting order.