In Canada, youth between the ages of 12 and 17 are treated differently by the criminal justice system than adults. For young offenders, the system focuses on their rehabilitation and reintegration into society rather than punishment.
While the Criminal Code still defines criminal behaviour in youth, the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) governs the procedures followed in the entire youth criminal process. These include investigations, charges, bail hearings, and even the types of sentences imposed if and when one is found guilty of a crime. Even after a conviction, the YCJA keeps strict and tight control of the criminal records, ensuring that they do not unnecessarily affect the youth’s future.
The YCJA provides special rights and privileges to young offenders due to their different life circumstances compared to adults, low maturity, varying motivational factors that lead to youth criminal behaviour, and to avoid needless exposure to harsh criminal consequences.
Even with the wide range of special considerations, the YCJA still insists on accountability for crimes committed. This means that, depending on the criminal charges, one may end up facing certain consequences, including probation, jail time, and a criminal record. Therefore, just as in adult cases, it’s imperative to have legal representation for youth facing criminal allegations.
The YCJA is an intricate and sensitive part of the legislation. To successfully protect and defend young persons facing criminal charges, a defence lawyer should have in-depth knowledge and understanding of this specialized Act. Antar Kahlon is well-versed in the YCJA, and he can help your child attain the best possible outcome when charged with an offence. Call (844) 978-8444 for a free, no-obligation consultation.
The Youth Criminal Justice Principles
Section 3 of the Youth Criminal Justice Act details the principles and purposes of the Act, which are the lens through which the entire YCJA is interpreted and used in the youth criminal process. Let’s have a look at the Declaration of principles:
- (1) The following principles apply in this Acts:
- the youth criminal justice system is intended to protect the public by
- holding young persons accountable through measures that are proportionate to the seriousness of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the young person,
- promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of young persons who have committed offences, and
- the youth criminal justice system is intended to protect the public by
- supporting the prevention of crime by referring young persons to programs or agencies in the community to address the circumstances underlying their offending behaviour;
- the criminal justice system for young persons must be separate from that of adults, must be based on the principle of diminished moral blameworthiness or culpability and must emphasize the following:
- rehabilitation and reintegration,
- fair and proportionate accountability that is consistent with the greater dependency of young persons and their reduced level of maturity,
- enhanced procedural protection to ensure that young persons are treated fairly and that their rights, including their right to privacy, are protected,
- timely intervention that reinforces the link between the offending behaviour and its consequences, and
- the promptness and speed with which persons responsible for enforcing this Act must act, given young persons’ perception of time;
- within the limits of fair and proportionate accountability, the measures taken against young persons who commit offences should
- reinforce respect for societal values,
- encourage the repair of harm done to victims and the community,
- be meaningful for the individual young person given his or her needs and level of development and, where appropriate, involve the parents, the extended family, the community and social or other agencies in the young person’s rehabilitation and reintegration, and
- respect gender, ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences and respond to the needs of aboriginal young persons and of young persons with special requirements; and
- special considerations apply in respect of proceedings against young persons and, in particular,
- young persons have rights and freedoms in their own right, such as a right to be heard in the course of and to participate in the processes, other than the decision to prosecute, that lead to decisions that affect them, and young persons have special guarantees of their rights and freedoms,
- victims should be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect for their dignity and privacy and should suffer the minimum degree of inconvenience as a result of their involvement with the youth criminal justice system,
- victims should be provided with information about the proceedings and given an opportunity to participate and be heard, and
- parents should be informed of measures or proceedings involving their children and encouraged to support them in addressing their offending behaviour.
- (2) This Act shall be liberally construed so as to ensure that young persons are dealt with in accordance with the principles set out in subsection (1).
Notable Considerations in Youth Cases
When facing criminal charges, unlike adults, young persons have special considerations provided by the YCJA. These considerations impact the entire youth criminal process, and some of them include:
· Parent Notification
When a young person is arrested or charged with a criminal offence, the police must notify their parent before the case can proceed.
· Youth Statements
The YCJA is particularly strict on how the police obtain statements from young persons. Youth are entitled to speak to a lawyer and a parent before deciding whether or not to give a statement. If they choose to provide a statement, a lawyer, parent, or another adult of their choosing must be present unless they explicitly state otherwise. Any statement collected from young offenders without adhering to these and other requirements of the YCJA is inadmissible in court.
· Bail Hearing
The YCJA limits the detention of young persons before trial, particularly for persons charged with non-violent crimes. During bail hearings, the Crown carries the onus of showing cause for the detention of young persons. As your lawyer, Antar Kahlon strives to get you released on fair bail conditions.
· Youth Sentencing
Under the YCJA, the justice system has an array of options available to deal with youth facing criminal charges. Note that in youth cases, jail sentences are reserved for the most serious crimes or repeat offences.
Before a youth case moves to court, the police weigh the charges and consider whether a simple warning is sufficient to deter the accused from committing any more crime.
Another way to resolve youth cases is through Extrajudicial Sanctions (EJS). These programs allow young offenders to take responsibility for their actions without pleading guilty or ending up with a criminal record. Examples of Extrajudicial Sanctions include writing an essay, attending counselling, community service, and attending lectures. After completing the required EJS, the criminal charges against you are withdrawn.
Another form of youth sentence for more serious offences is deferred custody and supervision order. This is a sentence served within the community under strict conditions that one must follow without fail. Any breach of the deferred custody orders could lead to incarceration for the remainder of the sentence.
In some youth cases involving serious violent crimes, such as homicide and aggravated sexual assault, the Crown may seek to prosecute and sentence the accused youth as an adult.
What a Youth Criminal Lawyer Can Do for You
If you or your loved one is facing a youth offence, it’s requisite to retain a youth criminal defence lawyer such as Antar Kahlon. He is well-versed with the intricacies of the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the Criminal Code, enabling him to provide the legal guidance required by youth facing criminal allegations. He understands the special rights, privileges, and considerations provided by the YCJA, and he utilizes them to protect and defend young persons.
As a youth criminal lawyer, Antar can negotiate with the Crown, ensuring a better outcome for the accused. For example, he can negotiate with the prosecution to have the charges withdrawn in favor of extrajudicial sanctions or informal diversion.
Antar is a meticulous, dedicated, and vigorous lawyer capable of devising strong defence strategies to protect youth facing criminal allegations. He’ll fight for you or your loved one throughout the youth criminal process to attain the most favourable outcome as per your case.
Call Kahlon Law today for a free evaluation of your case.