What happens after court

The police should let you know the outcome of the case. If the defendant is found guilty, there are many sentences that can be given out. And a wide range of factors will influence the sentence that the offender will receive, such as their age, background and criminal history, whether or not they pleaded guilty to the crime and whether they have shown any regret.


Prisoners do not usually serve the whole of their sentence in prison. When they are released depends on the length of their sentence, how long they spent in prison before they were sentenced, and whether they have passed a risk assessment for being released on licence or Home Detention Curfew (which involves wearing an electronic tag to check where they are after a certain time at night).

If you have concerns about an offender who is in prison, you can contact the Prison Service Victim Helpline on 0845 758 5112. You may, for example be worried about a prisoner contacting you by letter or telephone whilst in prison. Or you may be concerned about a prisoner being released on a temporary licence or for home leave.

More information is given in the section on Probation contact with victims below.

Probation contact with victims

The probation service should contact you if you are a victim of a violent or sexual crime where there has been a sentence of one year or more. They will ask you if you want to be kept informed about the offender's release arrangements and for your views about the conditions on their release. More information about this is given in the Home Office leaflet Release of prisoners: information for victims of serious sexual or other violent offences.

If you are afraid because threats have been made against you, or the person has harassed you, you can apply to the civil courts for an injunction to prevent the person from coming near you or your home after they leave prison. If you want to do this, you should get legal advice first.

If the offender is young

If the offender in your case is aged between 10 and 17 and is convicted of an offence, the Youth Court may make an Action Plan Order or a Reparation Order. (Reparation means that the offender does something which is intended to go some way towards repairing the damage they caused by committing the offence.) They could be ordered to:

This can only be with your agreement. If you do not want reparation, the court may order reparation to the community. If a Reparation Order is being considered, the Youth Court will ask the Youth Offending Team dealing with the offender for a written report, explaining what you think about what is being proposed. If you are approached by the Youth Offending Team, you have the choice whether or not you get involved.

If the offender in your case is aged between 10 and 17 and they are appearing in court for the first time and plead guilty, the Youth Court must make a Referral Order to a Youth Offender Panel, unless they give them a custodial sentence. The Youth Offender Panel then sets up a meeting with the young offender to draw up a contract as to how the young offender can work on changing their offending behaviour and make reparation to either the victim or the community. As the victim, you can attend this meeting and be accompanied by a person of your choice, if you wish. Or you can provide information for the meeting, or ask to be kept informed of the outcome, or do nothing at all. These options can be discussed with the Youth Offending Team worker. The panel meeting could result in a reparation to you if you wish (see above) or to the community. Under the contract, the offender could be expected to do one or more of the following:

Any reparation can only be with your agreement.

This process is based on an approach called 'restorative justice'. There is more about restorative justice below.

Restorative justice

Restorative justice is an approach to trying to deal with the harm done by crime or other conflicts. It tries to make things good again (restored) for the victim and the community and to help the offender to fit back into society.

It gives you, as the victim, a chance to ask the offender questions or tell them how their criminal behaviour has affected you, if you want to. It gives the offender a chance to admit the effect of what they have done, to make up for it in some way and to work to change their behaviour. You might be given the chance to communicate with the offender face-to-face, with a mediator or facilitator present, or indirectly through a mediator.

Since 1998 a range of new measures for dealing with young offenders has been introduced. Some of these measures include some of the principles of restorative justice. It is totally up to you whether or not you take part. You may be approached about the possibility of mediation, attending a restorative conference or Youth Offender Panel meeting, or asked about reparation. (There is more about Referral Orders and reparation above.)

More on this topic