Young Offender Criminal Lawyer

Having over a decade of experience dealing with many types of offences, Aswani Datt has the understanding behind youth court and young offender criminal charges.

Understanding the Youth Criminal Justice System

On February 4, 2002, the House of Commons passed Bill C-7, the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The new law replaces the Young Offenders Act (YOA), and is in force as of April 1, 2003, following a period of preparation for its implementation. The YCJA builds on the strengths of the YOA and introduces significant reforms that address its weaknesses. Some of these changes include:

  • An end to transfers to adult court.
    • If the offender is found guilty in a youth court, the judge has the authority to impose an adult sentence.
  • Lowering the age of presumption to 14.
    • Under the YOA, it was presumed youths aged 16 and over convicted of a serious offence such as murder were transferred to adult court. The new act lowers the age to 14, but individual provinces can adjust the age to 15 or 16.
  • Less emphasis on custody as a sentence for non-violent or less serious offences.
    • Custody is to be reserved for violent and repeat offenders.
  • Emphasis on alternative youth sentencing methods
    • Out of court sentences, such as referrals to community programs, community service, formal letters of warning to parents, repeat meetings with police, etc.
  • Access by victims to youth court records, and notification of victims if the offender is sentenced out of court.
  • Imposition of a new mandatory period of intensive supervision on all young offenders following their release from jail.

In June 2006, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled “since no basis can be found in the Youth Criminal Justice Act for imposing a harsher sanction than would otherwise be called for to deter others from committing crimes, general deterrence is not a principle of youth sentence under the new regime."

The Parental Responsibility Act of Ontario:

The Parental Responsiblity Act came into effect on August 15, 2000 and applies to crimes of youth in the Province of Ontario. Damages can be claimed in the Small Claims Court or the Superior Court of Justice depending on the amount being claimed. Under this Act, victims of crimes by persons under the age of 18 can claim damages against the parents in civil court.

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