Individuals under the age of 18, but over the age of 12, who are accused of having committed a criminal offence will be charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The ramifications of being charged as a youth can be very severe, often following the young individual throughout their adult lives. If you, or one your young ones has been charged with a criminal offence, it is imperative that you contact defence counsel.
Youth are deemed to be less morally blameworthy and culpable when it comes to crime. As such, young people who are charged under the YCJA are afforded additional protections. These range from extrajudicial measures and sanctions – as opposed to laying charges or imposing prison sentences, for example – to having the parent of the young offender notified if the youth has been charged and having that parent present during questioning.
Particularly when it comes to less serious offences, the YCJA aims to reintegrate young offenders into society as opposed to punishing them. It further aims to refer young persons to programs or agencies in the community to address the circumstances underlying their behaviour.