Youth & Young Offender Criminal Charges

Formerly called young offenders, youths in Canada are charged under the same Criminal Code as adults.  The main difference between the criminal court process for young people are the variety of sentences available to a judge.  These sentences include options not available to adults, and a sentence for a young person is generally referred to as a “disposition” and not a “conviction.”  However, the misconception that a “youth record” goes away or disappears after someone turns 18 can have serious consequences for young people who become subject to special categories of background checks as adults, where almost everything including Youth charges, would still show up.

Our Vancouver based law firm offers free consultations for young people and their parents going through the justice system.  We have helped defend many serious youth matters including those involving property crimes, and matters of serious violence.

What is the Youth Criminal Justice Act?

In place since 2003, the Youth Criminal Justice Act is the statute that governs criminal procedure and sentencing for young people.  It is federal law and is applicable in British Columbia and throughout Canada.  The act deals with youth accused of criminal offences under the Criminal Code of Canada that were committed during the time the youths were over 12 but under 18.  In certain situations, depending on the seriousness of the allegations, a young person may be sentenced as an adult and sent to an adult correctional facility.

What are the different types of sentences available to a young person in Canada?

Youth sentences in Canada can include: Discharges – both Absolute and Conditional, Fine, Restitution, Compensation, Community Service, Probation, Judicial Reprimands,

What is a Judicial Reprimand?

A reprimand is essentially a stern lecture or warning from the judge in minor cases in which the experience of being apprehended, taken through the court process and reprimanded appears to be sufficient to hold the young person accountable for the offence.

What is Intensive Support and Supervision?

This order is seen as an alternative to imprisonment and is served in the community under certain specified conditions, which vary on a case-by case basis.  There is a much closer degree of monitoring and scrutiny than a typical probation order as there is a greater need found for rehabilitation.

What is an Attendance requirement under the YCJA?

This order requires the young person to attend a program at specified times and on conditions set by the judge. It can be changed on a case by case basis based on the particular circumstances of a young person, with specific conditions imposed usually are tailored to  reflect the circumstances of the underlying charges.

What is Deferred Custody and Supervision?

This is a sentencing option for someone who would otherwise be sent to custody, to be permitted to serve their sentence under community supervision.  However, a deferred custody and supervision order is not possible for certain violent offences.

What is Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision?

This order is a special sentence for serious violent offenders. The court can make this order if:

  1. the young person has been found guilty of a serious violent offence (murder, attempted murder, manslaughter or aggravated sexual assault), or an offence in which the young person caused or attempted to cause serious bodily harm and for which an adult could be imprisoned for more than two years and the young person had previously been found guilty at least twice of such an offence;
  2. the young person is suffering from a mental or psychological disorder or an emotional disturbance;
  3. an individualized treatment plan has been developed for the young person; and
  4. an appropriate program is available and the young person is suitable for admission.