The criminal court system remains society's pre-eminent response to criminal activity, despite recent innovations such as youth justice conferences. Little is known, however, about the impact of an appearance before court, and in particular, whether subjective reactions to the court process have any impact on recidivism. The current article reports the results of a longitudinal study conducted in the NSW Children's Court. Two hundred and six young offenders were interviewed immediately after the conclusion of their sentencing hearing using a questionnaire designed to measure the extent to which they perceived the court hearing to be a deterrent, and the extent to which they felt either stigmatised or reintegrated by the experience of being sentenced. Other factors measured included the developmental background of the young person, their academic record, peer influence, and licit and illicit drug use. Participants with previous convictions and who felt stigmatised by the hearing were more likely to re-offend, while participants rating their likelihood of arrest in the event of future offending as high, and who reported that the sentence they received would prevent future offending, were less likely to re-offend. Some evidence was obtained, therefore, to support both deterrence and labelling theory.