Youth Criminal Justice Act
In most situations, the criminal justice system allows for youth to be treated differently than adults when charged with a criminal offence. If a young person breaks the law, they may receive a warning or caution from the police, be referred to a community program, or charged and sent to a youth justice court.
A young offender is an individual between the ages of 12 and 17, who commits an offence under the Criminal Code or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Young offenders are regulated by the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Among other things, the Act lays out the applicable extrajudicial measures, the organization of the Youth Criminal Justice System, judicial measures that the youth justice court may take and provisions for sentencing, custody and supervision. The Youth Criminal Justice Act emphasizes the importance of accountability, rehabilitation and reintegration. The Act seeks to address the root cause of the youth’s criminal behavior and any underlying issues. The Youth Criminal Justice Act recognizes that young offenders have different needs and require different forms of protection and rehabilitation from adults.
If your child is under 18, the police are required to contact you if they are arrested. Upon receiving the call, it is important to call a lawyer as soon as possible. Where the youth has been detained at a police station, it is important for you, along with a lawyer, to be present during police questioning.
The criminal defence lawyers at LZZ have extensive experience successfully defending youths against all types of criminal charges. If you or someone you know between the ages of 12 and 17 has been charged with a criminal offence you should contact a criminal lawyer immediately to help determine the best defence. Call us at (416) 613-0416 or (416) 595-9500 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Common Questions Regarding the Youth Criminal Justice Act
What is a Notice to Parents?
Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the officer in charge is required to give notice to the youth’s parent as soon as possible. If the youth does not live with their parents, or is unsure of their whereabouts, another suitable adult is able to receive the notice.
Can I Attend the Police Station if my Child is Arrested?
Yes, you can and should attend the police station as soon as possible. The police have a duty to tell you if your child has been arrested. A lawyer, parent or guardian, is also able to be present during questioning by police.
Can I Bail my Child out of Custody?
Yes, you can bail your child out of jail if you are found to be a suitable surety. Characteristics of a suitable surety can include, but are not limited to, the following: you have no criminal record, or any outstanding charges, you are not currently acting as a surety for another accused person and the young person has not previously breached their release order while you were acting as their surety.
What Sentences can I get if I am a Youth?
Judges hearing youth matters have a wider range of discretion when it comes to sentencing. The purpose of a youth sentence is to hold the young person accountable for their actions by imposing sanctions that have meaningful consequences for them. The goal of sentencing is to promote the youth’s rehabilitation and reintegration into society. The intention is to craft a sentence that contributes to the long-term protection of the public.
As with adults, when being sentenced, Judges can impose Absolute Discharges or Conditional Discharges, Restitution Orders and Probation Orders. Additionally, Youth Court Judges can impose a Judicial Reprimand, Intensive Support and Supervision, Attendance Orders, Deferred Custody and Supervision, and Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision.
Judicial Reprimand – is a severe admonishment from a Youth Court Judge that results in no criminal record. It is only used when the Court believes that the youth person has already been held accountable for their offending behaviour.
Intensive Support and Supervision – an alternative option a Judge may impose rather than jail. The youth person serves their sentence in the community and has access to programs that will assist in their rehabilitation.
Attendance Order – this is based on the youth person’s needs and circumstances. A Judge orders the youth to attend for specific counselling or programs that will benefit them.
Deferred Custody and Supervision – not available for particular violent crimes, it allows a youth person to serve their sentence in the community under supervision and with specific conditions.
Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision – this is a sentencing option that is available for violent youth offenders with a violent criminal record, or youth persons suffering from mental or psychological disorders. Its purpose is to provide the youth with a tailored treatment plan and specific programs that will assist with their rehabilitation.
What are Extrajudicial Sanctions (EJS)?
Extrajudicial sanctions are programs that are completed outside of the courtroom. These programs typically can include some form of community service or counselling. Depending on the severity of charges and allegations, the Crown Attorney may agree to allow the charges to be resolved by way of EJS. There is no guilty plea, but the accused person would make an admission of responsibility for their offending behaviour and agree to participate in counselling, community service or other appropriate sanctions. Upon the successful completion of these sanctions the charges would be withdrawn.
Can a Young Offender be Tried as an Adult?
Under special circumstances, a youth between the ages of 14-18 can be prosecuted as an adult under the Criminal Code, or sentenced as an adult, for certain violent offences. If a youth has been charged with a crime, it is imperative to have a youth criminal lawyer fighting by their side to ensure that they have the best possible defence. In Canada children under 12 years old cannot be charged with a criminal offence.
Are Youth Records Deleted when you Turn 18 Years of Age?
Youth criminal records are NOT automatically erased or sealed once a youth becomes an adult. Often a youth must wait several years from the time they complete their youth sentence for this to happen. This can have lasting effects on a youth’s ability to work and travel.
Should I Retain a Defence Lawyer for my Child?
The criminal defence lawyers at LZZ have extensive experience successfully defending youths. If you or your child has been criminally charged you should contact a criminal lawyer immediately to help determine the best defence. Call us at (416) 613-0416 or (416) 595-9500 or contact us online for a free consultation.