What happens when you are under 18 and charged with a crime?

Young man crying

Youth between the ages of 12 and 17 are treated slightly differently than adults when charged with a crime. As a youth, you have the same rights as an adult, but some allowances are made due to the age of the offender.

As a youth, you have the right to know why you are being arrested, as well as the right to speak to a lawyer and obtain free legal advice. The arresting officer must ensure the youth understands his/her right to silence, and that anything they say could be used against them. As a youth, you have the additional rights of being able to call both your parents or guardians as well as a lawyer and may have parents or guardians present when speaking to police. As a youth, the police still have the right to arrest you. You may have your photo and fingerprints taken, and you may be searched.

Teenager behind the bar

Parents and guardians of the youth charged also have additional rights. As a parent or guardian, you have the right to know if a youth in your care has been arrested, given a notice to appear in court, given a ticket, is the subject of a pre-sentence report or medical/psychological report, sentenced, or given a prohibition order. As a parent or guardian, you also have the right to speak at your child’s bail hearing or prior to their sentencing.

Parents or guardians do not have the right to hear what a youth tells their lawyer in private unless the youth gives their lawyer permission to disclose this information.

Youth charged with criminal offences appear in a separate court than adults which deals only with youth matters. All youth are eligible for Legal Aid, regardless of income. It is recommended that any youth charged with a crime obtain legal advice.

If you are a youth or the parent or guardian of a youth charged with a crime, it is important you speak to a criminal lawyer.