Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, any person between 12-17 years of age that has committed an offence will be dealt with by the youth court. Under this act the focus is to rehabilitate and reintegrate youth instead of locking them up.
In many cases we see, the offender is a “good” kid who goes to school regularly and has a strong family unit but got caught up with the wrong crowd and is now facing a charge of theft, assault, or drug offenses.
There are different types of offences that encompasses the charge:
Serious offences: Generally defined as theft, driving offences, weapons
Violent offenses: Defined as an attempt to cause an element of bodily harm to another person, or a threat to do so, which affects their safety
Serious violent offences: The most severe of the three types, it is defined as manslaughter, attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault or murder.
In the eyes of the law, a child has the same rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They also have the right to a lawyer. If you cannot afford an independent young offender lawyer, you can access the services of a duty counsel through the Legal Aid Ontario website. Once you have received your legal aid certificate, we can assist you. Legal aid certificates are accepted.
During the legal process, the court will be given time to consider the evidence, as well as, making sure the young offender gets the right legal advice to help them make a decision and that they are fully aware of all possible consequences. We understand that as a parent you want to help your child as much as possible, but it is important to note that they are entitled to confidentiality when speaking with their lawyer and deciding the course of actions for their case.
During this portion of the proceedings, the prosecutor must provide evidence against the offender, called disclosure, which can include witness statements, video evidence and police reports. They will also give their position on what a fair sentence would be, if the youth pleads guilty.
In some cases, there is an offer of extrajudicial sanctions (EJS), a program that must be completed. It is an option that makes the offender take some responsibility for their actions without having a criminal record.
A young person’s rights to a lawyer is crucial and he/she should speak to a Youth Offences Lawyer as soon as possible and be kept informed during every other step in the process.
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