Understanding the Penalties for Youth Crime

A juvenile or youth between the ages of 12 and (under) 18 who commits a criminal offence in Ontario will be prosecuted under the Youth Criminal Justice Act of Canada (YCJA), which came into effect on April 21, 2003, replacing the Young Offender’s Act. They will be tried in juvenile court.

Children under the age of 12 generally do not receive convictions for crimes, while in other circumstances, minors between the ages of 14 and 18 can be tried in adult court under the Criminal Code of Canada for especially heinous crimes, usually violence-related.

Contrary to the popular opinion expressed by many young people, a criminal record from youth court is not automatically erased once the young person turns 18. In fact, the young person must wait between 2 and 7 years from the time their youth sentence expires, and he or she must remain out of trouble during this time, in order for their youth court record to be erased. Actually, the record is not erased, but the language used in the Youth Criminal Lawyers Brampton Criminal Justice Act speaks of “access” to records. Thus, there is no longer “access” to a young person’s youth court record only once the relevant time period has passed and the young person has remained “crime free”. So, a criminal conviction in youth court can have serious consequences for a young person who seeks to learn from his or her mistakes and become a productive member of society.

A young person who comes from an unfortunate background may, due to upheaval at home, find himself or herself in youth court, and in serious need of help in the way of counseling and guidance. In this way, the young person’s criminal activity may be a call for help.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act is intended to correct criminal tendencies through rehabilitation, rather than penalize behaviour, unless it is judged to be necessary. It is up to the courts to find a balance between the interests of the youth and the interests of the public in each case. Before a conviction, it is unlikely a child will be retained in detention, unless they were deemed to be a risk to the public.

If your child has been accused of a crime, it can be a frightening and difficult time for the entire family. If they are actually convicted of the crime, it can disrupt the formative years of life and adapt them to a life of crime.

The prosecution will seek to enforce a sentence that they feel will cause the teen to take responsibility for his actions, but this can be quite subjective. Your teen may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, falsely accused because of a misunderstanding or had other intentions than what resulted. It’s also possible that your child made a youthful mistake that would not be repeated if given another chance.

Penalties for Youth Crimes in Ontario

Although normally not as severe as adult convictions, penalties can still be significant for youth crimes, including juvenile detention, heavy fines, and required counseling. Your child’s education may also be affected if they have been ordered to find an alternative school or have been expelled. Convicted juveniles also often encounter problems travelling abroad, renting property, getting a driver’s licence, obtaining credit, and finding gainful employment.

In many circumstances a skilled legal defence lawyer can negotiate an alternative to incarceration, or will seek to have the charges dismissed or withdrawn altogether, and save the young adult from a criminal record. This becomes more difficult for repeated offences, if it begins to appear to the courts that the youth’s history displays a lack of interest in avoiding a life of crime.

Criminal Defence Lawyers Representing Youth Crime Offenders

It is in your child’s best interest to consult with a professional, qualified legal advisor.

If your child is facing Youth Crime charges, they are depending on your support – to give them the best possible chance of a future. Get in touch with a criminal defence lawyer immediately so you can plan a strategy that will seek to protect your child’s rights, and an unhealthy impact on their future.

Contact The Criminal Law Team Toronto for a free consultation.

As dedicated, honest and caring criminal lawyers, we bring you over 60 years of experience and an excellent record of success to help defend your criminal charge.


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