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What can you legally do at what age?

5th June 2018



At what age do children and young adults begin to take responsibility for themselves legally?

With the help of the BBC and The Mix, we’ve compiled a list that outlines some of the things a child/young adult is legally allowed to do depending on their age, and also how they would be dealt with by the law if they committed a crime.

 Age 10-13

  • You are considered to be responsible for a criminal offence and treated like any other minor under 18 if a crime is committed
  • You can give evidence as a witness, but not under oath
  • You can get a part-time job at 13

Age 14

  • You can give a witness statement under oath
  • You can go into a bar or pub and order a non-alcoholic drink
  • Wearing a seatbelt is considered your own responsibility

Age 15

  • You can rent or buy a 15-rated movie/video game

Age 16

  • You are given your National Insurance number
  • You can change your name by deed poll
  • You can give your own medical consent
  • You can give sexual consent with others that are also 16 or over
  • You can get married with parental permission
  • You can ride a moped with a maximum engine power of 50cc
  • You can join the armed forces, if your parent/guardian agrees
  • You can buy a lottery ticket or scratch card
  • You can move out of your family home
  • You can drink beer, wine or cider with a meal in a pub or restaurant with an adult

Age 17

  • You can be interviewed by the police without an adult present
  • You can drive most types of vehicles and pilot a helicopter/plane
  • You can donate blood
  • You can donate your body for a medical study after you die

Age 18

  • You are treated as an adult by the law, and if imprisoned, you’ll be sent to a place that holds only 18-25 year olds
  • You can buy alcohol
  • You can get a tattoo
  • You can buy tobacco
  • You can buy or rent an 18 film/video game
  • You can vote
  • You can buy fireworks
  • You can pawn items in a pawn shop
  • You can carry an organ donor card
  • You can marry without parental permission
  • You can make a will


If child law and criminal responsibility are of interest to you, why not take a look at our in house lawyer jobs? With a large range of roles from in-house, private practice and public sector you’ll be sure to find a career that suits you.

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