Youth Crime and the YCJA

Youths, who are between the ages of 12 and 17, and have been charged with criminal offences in Canada, are prosecuted under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The YCJA applies to young offenders from the time they turn 12 until they turn 18. Upon reaching their 18th birthday, offenders are then prosecuted according to the laws and guidelines contained in the Criminal Code of Canada, should they commit criminal offences after turning 18.

The YCJA sets out the specific ways young offenders are treated under the law and recognizes a number of principles to differentiate them from adult offenders. Whether proceedings against a young offender are brought and filed in youth court is not based upon the age the youth is at the time they are charged or go to trial, but the date the offence was alleged to have occurred. In addition, if the young person committed a criminal offence before they turned 18, and were found guilty, the YCJA can still apply to them after they turn 18.

Key Principles in Canada Used to Govern Youth Crime

The preamble in the YCJA contains several key principles which are used to govern the aim and purpose of the YCJA. Some of these key principles are summarized, as follows:

  • The youth justice system holds young offenders accountable for their actions through measures proportionate to the seriousness and severity of the crime committed and the degree of responsibility of the offender.
  • The youth justice systems seeks to promote rehabilitation and the reintegration of young offenders, who have committed criminal offences.
  • The youth justice systems fosters responsibility to ensure accountability with meaningful consequences to the young offender.
  • The youth justice system provides the right to privacy, as well as enhanced procedural protections.
  • The youth justice system supports the prevention of future criminal offences by referring young offenders to the appropriate agencies and programs within their community in order to identify and address the underlying issues, circumstances, and behaviours that resulted in the criminal offence.

It is generally accepted youths have a diminished level of moral culpability, and therefore must be dealt with accordingly and separately under their own criminal Acts. Although, it is important to note, young persons can be charged with any criminal offence as detailed in the Criminal Code of Canada. In addition, the YCJA strongly promotes the rehabilitation and reintegration of young offenders back into society, as demonstrated by the key principles noted above.

Why Should You Hire Passi & Patel for Youth Criminal Lawyers?

It is vital to hire and retain the services of a Mississauga criminal lawyer with experience in youth criminal offences and the YCJA. You, your child, and your family will need assistance in order to understand the criminal procedures, as well as gain a better understanding of what is expected and what protections are afforded young offenders. Further, the rights afforded young offenders are different from those as adult offenders.

At Passi & Patel, our Mississauga criminal lawyers understand the special provisions and demands youth criminal proceedings can have on the accused youth and their family. We can assure you will receive the representation and guidance you and your child deserves with our experience and knowledge representing young clients. For a free consultation with one of our Mississauga criminal lawyers, contact us today at 647-898-8018.