When a minor is alleged to have committed a criminal offence, their charges will be dealt with in Youth Court under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The YCJA applies to young persons between the ages of 12 and 17. Given the age limitations, a child under the age of 12 cannot be charged with a crime.
Individuals that are charged with a criminal offence and who are under the age of 18 will be prosecuted in a Youth Court. While some similarities exist between the adult and youth judicial systems, the landscape and penalties for a youth offence are very different. For young offenders who have been charged criminally there are a variety of outcomes which are not available to adults who face those same charges. Consequently, there is a need for counsel experienced in youth prosecutions.
While numerous similarities exist between the youth and adult criminal justice systems, the landscape is very different. For matters in Calgary and Edmonton, a specialized courtroom exists for youth criminal matters. This courtroom is staffed with a specialized prosecutorial branch that focuses exclusively on youth files. In the adult system, accused persons charged with indictable offences have the ability to select their mode of trial. This process is known as an election. As an adult, the accused can elect to be tried in Provincial Court, in the Court of Queen’s Bench by a Justice sitting alone, or in the Court of Queen’s Bench by a jury of his/her peers. Conversely, all Youth Court prosecutions will be conducted in Provincial Court before a Provincial Court Judge.
The prevailing goal of the YCJA is to place a focus upon rehabilitation of the young person in order to ensure that the crimes are not replicated later on in life. As rehabilitation is a primary focus, probation is routinely used as a sanction. When imposed, the presiding judge can craft a sentence which assists the young person going forward. This may involve prohibiting them from having contact with negative peers, requiring that they complete counselling for anger management or substance abuse, and even issuing an apology to the wronged party. Unlike its adult counterpart, the imposition of a custodial sentence is a rarity, even for some of the more serious criminal code offences. Youth Court attempts to address the developmental challenges and the needs of young persons to effectively guide them into adulthood.
Young persons that have been charged with a criminal offence need the support, patience, and guidance of a trusted advisor. It is a difficult and frightening time in the young person’s life and without the proper counsel, the impacts of a conviction can be devastating for both the youth and the family. Batting, Wyman Barristers provides expert and empathetic counsel to youths who have been charged with a criminal offence. Understanding the nuances of young offenders cases, we are here to provide the best legal advice and representation.