Young Offenders & Youth Court Charges

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March 20, 2016
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Young Offenders & Youth Court Charges


What Are Youth Court Charges?

Youth court offences are criminal offences as defined within the Criminal Code of Canada or Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Young offenders can be charged with any criminal offence as defined in the Criminal Code. However, how those young accused persons are to be investigated, charged, dealt with in the bail process or at other court proceedings,  and ultimately sentenced, if convicted, are governed by the rules and guidelines established within the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA).
The YCJA applies to youths between the ages of 12 and 17 years old. The primary purpose of the YCJA is to ensure youths receive effective and fair justice.
The YCJA is broken down into nine specific parts, as follows:
  • Part 1 – Extrajudicial Measures
  • Part 2 – Organization of Youth Criminal Justice System
  • Part 3 – Judicial Measures
  • Part 4 – Sentencing
  • Part 5 – Custody and Supervision
  • Part 6 – Publication, Records, and Information
  • Part 7 – General Provisions
  • Part 8 – Transitional Provisions
  • Part 9 – Consequential Amendments, Repeal, and Coming into Force
The objective of the YCJA is to make sure that young offenders fully understand that their actions have consequences. To this end, sentencing guidelines used for Youth Criminal Offences tend to focus more on attempting to rehabilitate an offender, rather than imprisonment. Typically cases, where an adult would be imprisoned often result in far less severe punishments for youth offenders. However, by no means does this imply a youth, who commits a serious criminal offence could not potentially be placed into custody.



Youth Court Offences FAQs


We will review some of the commonly asked questions in regards to Youth Court processes and Youth Criminal Offences in this FAQs section.    


What rights does a youth offender have when accused of a criminal offence?

Youths are granted the same rights as adult offenders for criminal offences, with a few differences. When they are arrested, they must be informed of their right to legal counsel and must be provided the opportunity to retain legal counsel prior to questioning. In addition, prior to police questioning a youth, who is accused of committing a criminal offence, an adult or legal counsel must be present. Further, parents shall be made aware of the arrest of their youth and be provided details of the alleged charges, as well as where their youth is being detained.


Is bail automatically granted for youth offenders?

Not always. If the court feels the youth offender could potentially commit additional criminal offences, or committed a serious criminal offence, bail may be denied and the youth placed into custody. However, in many cases, the youth is typically released on their own recognizance under the supervision of their parent or legal guardian.   


What type of legal counsel is best to retain for my youth?

With youth cases, parents may not believe it is necessary to retain their own legal counsel to represent their child’s interests. The YCJA does allow parents to represent their child, with the court’s permission. However, this is never a good idea or recommended.
Even though the severity of punishments for many youth criminal offences is not too drastic, do you really want your child to have a criminal record, if there is a possibility to fight the charges and get them dismissed?
Court-appointed lawyers are not always the best option, either, as they may suggest your youth take a plea agreement for the criminal offence.
Ideally, you want to find your own legal counsel and not use a court-appointed youth defence lawyer. You will want to choose a North York, Toronto criminal defence lawyer, who not only has experience and knowledge of the Criminal Code of Canada, but also equally has expertise and knowledge of the YCJA.   



What are some of the potential punishments youth offenders could be sentenced to?

Since the objective of the YCJA is rehabilitation and reintegration of youth offenders, the punishments prescribed, if convicted, and found guilty, could include, but may not be limited to:
  • Community Service
  • Counselling
  • Criminal Awareness Educational Courses
  • Restitution
It is worth mentioning, for serious criminal offences, varying periods of imprisonment in a youth detention facility could be part of a youth’s sentencing.  


Could a youth offender be prosecuted as an adult offender?

It depends upon the severity of the crime and the age of the youth offender. For instance, if the youth offender is a few weeks away from their eighteenth birthday, there is the possibility the Crown make ask the court’s permission to prosecute them as an adult, especially if they have an extensive youth criminal record.
On the other hand, a 13 year old offender committed murder or manslaughter, and there is strong evidence to support they were fully aware of their actions, regardless of premeditation, the Crown could seek the court’s permission to prosecute them as an adult.


Does a youth offender’s criminal record automatically seal upon turning 18?

Not always. Within the YCJA is a provision for a statutory waiting period, where the record remains open and is fully accessible for a specific period of time, even in cases where the youth offender has already turned 18. In addition, if the youth offender, is convicted and found guilty of an additional criminal offence, or if they have already turned 18 and are convicted and found guilty of an additional adult criminal offence, during this statutory waiting period, their youth criminal record will not be sealed.



Contact Farjoud Law

If you or someone you care about has been charged with drug possession offence, it is in your best interests to speak directly to a criminal defence lawyer in North York, Toronto to find out your rights and get your questions answered. Call Farjoud Law now at (647) 606-6776 to speak with a criminal lawyer to discuss your matter. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Farjoud Law is located at 4950 Yonge Street, Suite 2200 in the neighbourhood of North York in Toronto, Ontario. Click here for directions to our law office.
Please note that this article is solely for informational purposes and should not be considered legal advice. In order to ensure the protection of your rights and interests, please consult a criminal defence lawyer prior to acting or relying upon any information.

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