Youth Matters

Young people aged 12-17 charged with criminal offences are usually subject to different procedures and principles governed by the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Young people aged 12-17 charged with criminal offences are usually subject to different procedures and principles governed by the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Youth, like adults, are charged under the same provisions of the Canadian Criminal Code or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act however they are sentenced according to different principles that are outlined under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. . Constitutional rights given to adults under the Charter also apply to young persons but those rights are supplemented with the Youth Criminal Justice Act. When Courts deal with young persons the focus and emphasis tends to be on rehabilitation and reintegration.

Your case might be resolved by way of a trial, a guilty plea, or it may be withdrawn.

For example if you are charged with a less serious offence, you may be eligible for Extra Judicial Measures and upon completion of conditions imposed, your charges will be withdrawn.

Similarly, if you have a mental disorder that caused or effected your charges, you may be eligible for Mental Health Diversion (MHD). Once you complete your MHD conditions, your charges will be withdrawn.

Extra Judicial Measures and MHD require the Crown Prosecutor’s consent.

There is a wide spectrum of possible resolutions for youth offences ranging from a reprimand to adult sentencing. A young person will usually be ordered to participate in the generation of reports that assess personal circumstances and contextualize the offence. The type and length of a sentence will rely in part on the content of these reports.

If you are charged with a serious offence and sentenced as a youth, you may serve time in a young offenders center but will not spend time in adult jails or prisons until you reach the age of 18.

If a young person is over the age of 14, and convicted of a serious offence, the Crown Prosecutor’s office can apply to have the young person sentenced as an adult.  In those particular cases imprisonment is an available sentencing option.  

Parents and Guardians have the right and are usually informed of your proceedings, including your arrest, sentencing, and up-coming court dates. In some cases, they also have access to reports that arise out of youth offences.

As a general rule of thumb, if you are convicted of an offence that has resulted in a youth criminal record, your record will be sealed either 3 or 5 years after you have completed serving your sentence.  Your record is sealed only if you do not reoffend as an adult during this period of time.