Dec 16

What is the Youth Criminal Justice Act?

The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) applies to people who are at least 12 but not older than 18 years old at the time of the alleged offence. The YCJA provides that young persons should be held accountable in ways that consider their reduced level of maturity.

What are the Sentencing Options for Youth?

The YCJA requires the police to consider the use of measures called extrajudicial measures.  When extrajudicial measures are used, the goal is to hold the young person accountable without the need to go through the formal court process. These measures include informal warnings, formal police cautions, and referrals to community programs that might help prevent the youth from committing offences.

If a young person is charged with a criminal offence, there are still extrajudicial sanctions. These sanctions include community service work, attending counselling, and writing letters of apology. If a young person successfully complies with the extrajudicial sanction, Crown prosecutors will often ask the court to withdraw the charges outright or after the young person enters a peace bond.

What can I be Sentenced to if I am Found Guilty?

If extrajudicial sanctions are not available to the young person, he or she will have to decide whether to resolve the matter in other ways or proceed to trial.  If the young person is found guilty, a youth court judge will have to impose a sentence. The YCJA outlines many different sentencing possibilities:

  • Judicial reprimands, which occur when the young offender is given a strict warning from the judge.
  • Intensive support and supervision orders, which are like probation orders. However, these are more often imposed on young offenders who have been diagnosed with mental health or developmental issues.
  • Deferred custody and supervision orders, which permit young offenders to serve their time in the community under specific conditions instead of in a residential facility. Some conditions may include house arrest or a curfew.
  • Custody and supervision orders, which require that the young offender serve their time in a residential facility. Following that period of custody, the young offender will be placed under a period of community supervision.
  • Intensive rehabilitative custody and supervision orders, which are used only for serious violent offenders who suffer from a mental or psychological disorder or emotional disturbance. It involves a period of custody within a residential facility that includes an individualized treatment plan. This is then followed by a supervision order.

Youth Criminal Lawyers?

The lawyers of Lockyer Zaduk Zeeh are experienced at representing youth as they work their way through the criminal justice system. If you or your child are in need of a youth criminal lawyer, please give us a call at 416-613-0416 to schedule a consultation.