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Encyclopedia > Youth Criminal Justice Act

The Youth Criminal Justice Act is a piece of Canadian legislation passed in 2002 that determines the way in which youths are prosecuted under Canada's criminal justice system. Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... For album titles with the same name, see 2002 (album). ... Youth is defined by Websters New World Dictionary as, The time of life when one is young; especially: a: the period between childhood and maturity b: the early period of existence, growth, or development. ... Criminal justice system flowchart Criminal Justice refers to the system used by government to maintain social control, prevent crime, enforce laws, and administer justice. ...

The YCJA replaced the Young Offenders Act which had previously regulated youth crime in Canada. The new act borrowed many of its predecessor's principles, as well as Canada's repealed 1908 Juvenile Delinquents Act. The Young Offenders Act was a 1984 act of the Parliament of Canada, now obsolete, that regulated the criminal prosecution of Canadian youths. ... The Juvenile Delinquents Act of the Government of Canada was an Act passed in 1908 to deal with criminal acts of youths aged 7 to 16 (or 18, depending on jurisdiction). ...


Key Points of the YCJA

Rights of Youth

Police do not have to arrest youths who are suspected of breaking certain laws; they have many other options and a great deal of discretion. In a situation such as shoplifting, the police may simply talk with the young person and evaluate what he or she did wrong or the police could bring the youth home or call the parent or guardian.

Extrajudicial Sanctions - Alternative Measures Programs

Non-violent, first-time offenders who are unlikely to re-offend can avoid trial in a youth justice court by taking part in programs of extrajudicial sanctions.but they also can appel thet These programs are designed to work outside the court system. Under The Young Offenders Act they were called "Alternative Measures Programs." These programs are intended to help youths learn from their mistakes before they develop criminal records and in some programs the young person apologizes to the victim. In cases such as theft, they return the stolen goods. Other programs include, counseling, community service, drug and alcohol treatment, and special school programs. Community service is one of the most common programs; the youth is expected to work within the community for a specific number of hours and also apologize to the victim.

Arrest and Detention

Youths may be arrested by the police for more serious offences. The legal rights listed in The Charter apply to youths as they would to adults. For example, the youth has the right to obtain free legal advice from a legal aid lawyer and the right to a fair trial. Also, the youth has the right to have their parents present during any questioning. Upon arrest, these rights must be explained in clear and understandable language. These rights are very important and often the youth has no idea of their legal position or rights. A youth also cannot waive their rights simply by saying "I waive my right to a lawyer"; they must take further steps. In cases where the police have not adequately advised a youth of their rights, their statements have been ruled invalid in court.

Detention and Bail

The Criminal Code gives youths and adults the same right to bail. However, the terms of release for youths are different from those for adults. Terms of release often include curfews and forbidden contact with victims and certain friends. Youths are usually released into the custody of parents or other responsible adults. Youths can be fingerprinted and photographed only when they have been charged with an indictable offence. If the youth is acquitted, these photos and fingerprints must be destroyed to protect the rights of the youth. Otherwise, these records are kept until the youth reaches the age of 18 and then they are destroyed.

Notice to Parents

Parents must be notified immediately or as soon as possible after their child is detained or arrested. Parents are encouraged to participate in all steps of the legal process and in some cases a judge may order the parents to attend hearings. If the parent does not appear they may be found in contempt of court.

Trial Procedures

Trials under The Youth Criminal Justice Act are held in either family court or youth justice court, depending on the province or territory. Trials for both adults and youths follow the same rules for evidence and are equally formal. Defence lawyers usually represent the youth, similar to adults, and youths also have access to legal aid.

Privacy of Hearings

The YCJA allows the public and media to attend the trials of the youths and proceedings may be reported, but the identity of the youth can only be disclosed under special circumstances. The names of 14 to 17 year olds who are convicted of serious, violent crimes, such as murder or aggravated sexual assault, can be reported in the media. If the youth is considered to be dangerous, their picture can be published in the media along with their name. Their name may also be revealed if they are still "at large" (have not been arrested yet) for the benefit of the public's safety when the expectation is that they will be charged once police have tracked them down.

Transfer to Adult Court

In order for a youth to be transferred to adult court, certain requirements must be met. The youth must have been 14 or older when the offence was committed and they must also be accused of a serious, violent crime or else be a repeat offender of such crimes. A transfer hearing will occur to determine which court - adult or youth justice (or family) - will best suit the case. The judge decides.


Under The Young Offenders Act, youths found guilty in youth justice court were given "dispositions". These were similar to sentences given in adult court, but were not referred to in the same way. Under the new Youth Criminal Justice Act, the term disposition disappears and youths now receive "sentences" like adults.

As seen before, there are many options in sentencing youths. The judge imposing the sentence must balance the needs and concerns of the victim and the public with the needs and circumstances of the youth, and the sentence must also help the youth to take responsibility for breaking the law.

Similar to adult court, the judge would hold a sentencing hearing, where he/she would review the a pre-sentence report. This report is prepared by a probation officer or youth justice court worker and it provides a history of the youth as well as insight into the youth's character.

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Youth Criminal Justice Act - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (229 words)
The Youth Criminal Justice Act is a piece of Canadian legislation passed in 2002 that determines the way in which youths are prosecuted under Canada's criminal justice system.
The YCJA replaced the controversial Young Offenders Act which had previously regulated youth crime in Canada.
Youth Criminal Justice Act from Department of Justice Canada.
  More results at FactBites »



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