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The Youth Criminal

Justice Act
Students will be expected to investigate and assess how
criminal law affects young people.

identify the important differences between the Youth Criminal

Justice Act and its two predecessors, the Young Offenders Act and
the Juvenile Delinquents Act

analyze the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the impact it has on
young people and the country as a whole

assess the sentencing provisions of these acts in relation to the

different sentencing objectives stated in the Criminal Code of

investigate other areas of criminal law that affect young people who
are not covered by the Youth Criminal Justice Act
1908 Juvenile Delinquents Act (JDA)
(Claimed to be one of the first Child-Centered pieces of legislation.)

Established a separate justice system for youth (separate courts).

Granting youth court judges a parens patriae or pseudo-parental role.

Sentencing should focus on rehabilitation, not on dispensing punishment

based on the seriousness of the offence.

Minimum age to charge a child with a criminal offence = 7

Children under 12 could only be

committed to an institution if no other
option was available.

Established a Juvenile Court


Increased sentencing options for judges.

Encouraged parental involvement in the process. A mother with her three children at a meeting of a
Juvenile Delinquency Board.
The Youth Criminal was passed by the government
Justice Act replaced the on February 2002 and was
implemented April 1, 2003 and
Young Offenders Act of promotes accountability and
1984. The meaningful consequences
Made distinctions proportionate to the
between violent and seriousness of the offence for
youth, aged 12 - 17 suspected,
non-violent offences, charged with, accused or
encourages out-of court convicted of a criminal
measures and gives offence.
direction for their
appropriate use.
The YCJA treats youth differently from
adults because of their level of dependency,
maturity and development.
3 principles of the YCJA that promote long term protection of the public.
1. Prevent crime by addressing the circumstances
underlying a young persons behaviour
2. Rehabilitate and reintegrate young people who
commit offences into society
3. Ensure that a young person is subject to
meaningful consequences for his or her offence
YCJA Crime Quiz
Test your understanding:
With a partner discuss the questions and
answer them based on what you already

1. No, it is decreasing.
From 1991 to 2006
youth crime
decreased 49% in
BC. Youth crime is
going down across
Canada, in both
rural and urban
2. 25% and 80% of those were assaults,
for example, hitting someone.
3. The law says children under 12 years old cant be
charged and taken to criminal court. He or she can
be treated through the mental health system or
receive protection from a child protection agency. If
the police catch a child younger than 12 doing
something wrong, they will take the child home and
tell the parents, refer the child to the Ministry of
Children and Families or ensure the child gets
treatment from a mental health facility. The parents
may get other help at the school or in the
4. Young people are adults at 18. There is
a special law for youth age 12 to 17. It
is called the Youth Criminal Justice Act
5. More are 16-to 17-years old.
In 2009-2010:
32% were 17
26% were 16
20% were 15
12%were 14
6% were 13
2% were 12.
6. No. Young people are sent to a special
youth jail for serious crimes when it is
necessary to protect the public. Some
youth are sent to live in special places,
for example a group home run by the
government. Others may get help from
local community groups.
7. The sentence should depend on the seriousness of the crime.
It should prevent future crimes as well as repairing the harm
the young person did. It may include probation with conditions,
repayment, community service, or attendance in programs. For
example, a young person may have to apologize to the victim
and pay (with money or work) for damage she did. Sometimes a
young person has to pay a fine or do some volunteer work in
the community. She may be on probation and have to follow
some special rules like living in a specified place, going to
school, staying at home in the evening or staying away from
certain places or certain people. She may have to attend a
special program, for example, a program to teach anger
8. Most young people can grow up and
change while staying at home with their
families. Programs in the community
are usually the most successful way to
help them. Young people are different
from adultsthey have different
problems and different needs.
9. Yes, but only for serious crimes like
murder, and only if the young person is
over 14.A judge must agree an adult
sentence is necessary.
10. Common examples are assaults,
breaking and entering, possession of
or selling drugs, stealing cars, and
11. a) If the police stop or arrest a young person they have to tell
him or her why.
b) The young person can talk to a lawyer and parent (or adult)
before talking to police.
c) The young person is considered innocent until s/he goes to
court and a judge decides the person is guilty.
d) The Crown counsel has to prove in court that the young
person is guilty.A victim impact statement is used at the time of
sentencing, and is given to the judge to review. In this way the
victim has a very real voice in describing how the crime has
impacted their life. Also, the victim has a right to know what
charges have been approved, when and where the next court
appearance is, what the conditions of release are and what is
the final disposition of the case. In addition, under the YCJA,
the victim will have access to the name of the young offender in
certain cases. And finally, the victim can play a role in
determining the consequences for the crime, such an apology,
restitution, or compensation.
Under the old Young Offenders Act (the Act that was in place before \
the new Act):

For 8 of the 9 most common crimes in youth court, youth got longer periods
of custody than adults who got custody for the same crime.

Youth generally spent more time in custody than adults with similar
sentences due to the terms for an adult conditional release.

Eighty percent of custodial sentences for youth were for non-violent


Almost half of youth sentenced to custody were given custody because they
failed to comply with a disposition order, or settlement. They were brought
back to court on a breach. A breach is when a youth fails to obey what has
been ordered in court. For instance, the youth may have a curfew or an
order not to drink, but is caught past his or her curfew or caught drinking.
Sentencing Principles NOW:
Sentences should:
Not be more severe than what an adult would get for the same crime
Be similar to youth sentences given in similar youth cases
Be in line with the seriousness of the crime and the degree of your responsibility for
the crime
The degree of participation
The harm done to the victim
Whether the harm was intentional or reasonably foreseeable
Previous findings of guilt
Any other aggravating or lessening circumstances
Be within the limits of proportionality. This means that the sentence needs to be "in
line" with the seriousness of the offence and the degree of responsibility youth had in
doing the offence
Be the least restrictive alternative
Be the sentencing option that is most likely to rehabilitate and reintegrate youth
Give youth a sense of responsibility and an acknowledgement of the harm done by
the crime
Types of Youth Sentences
Judicial reprimand: Youth get a stern lecture from the judge in a
minor case where being apprehended, taken to court, and
reprimanded is enough to hold the young offender accountable for
his or her crime.

Absolute discharge: Even though you are guilty, there is no finding

of guilt registered against you. The discharge is removed from your
record after one year.

Conditional discharge: Youth will have to follow certain conditions. If

youth do so, their discharge becomes absolute. If they do not follow
the conditions, they can be brought back to court for a tougher
sentence. This is removed from their youth record after three years.

Fine: This can be ordered for up to $1000. The judge thinks about
how much money the young offender has and the time s/he might
need to pay when ordering this sentence.
Restitution: If a young offender took something from someone and
s/he still has it, s/he can be ordered to return it.

Compensation: Youth may be ordered to pay the victim of their

crime for his or her loss, such as:
The cost of repairs
The cost of replacing the goods
Medical bills
Lost wages if the victim is unable to work
Youth could also be ordered to pay a third party.

Community service: The judge thinks about the young offenders

time and abilities. The judge can order work in the community. Youth
are not paid for this work. The order tells how many hours the young
offender must do and how long s/he has to complete them. Youth
can get up to 240 hours of community service with 1 year to
complete them.

Probation: The judge orders youth to follow certain conditions and to

report to a probation officer regularly. The officer's job is to watch the
young offenders behaviour so that s/he can get help if s/he needs it.
If the rules in the probation order are not followed, the young
offender may go back to court for a tougher sentence. The longest
time for probation is two years.
Attendance at a program: The judge can order youth to go to a
program at a certain time and on conditions set by the judge. This
kind of non-residential program must be approved by the provincial
director and can be suited to address the case. For example, it could
focus on days and times when the young offender is unsupervised
and tends to break the law.

Intensive Support and Supervision Program: Youth may be watched

closely and get more support than under a probation order. This
helps youth to change their behaviour.

Intermittent custody: If youth are sentenced to custody for less than

90 days, they may be able to serve it intermittently (not all in a row).
For example, youth may serve their sentence on weekends so that
they can go to school during the week.

Deferred custody and supervision order: This allows youth to serve

their sentence in the community under conditions, instead of being
placed in a youth correctional facility. If the young offender breaks
the conditions, s/he will be kept in custody. This sentence is not
available if s/he has been found guilty of a serious violent crime.
Custody and supervision: Youth time in custody must be followed by a
period of supervision and support in the community. About one-third of the
youth sentence will be served under supervision in the community. The
custody part of the sentence will be served under the care and control of
Youth Corrections. "Closed custody" means youth are being held in jail.
"Open custody" means youth are in jail with fewer restrictions and

Concurrent sentences: This means that if youth have more than one finding
of guilt, the judge can order that each sentence is completed at the same

Consecutive sentences: This means that if youth have more than one
finding of guilt, the judge can order that each sentence is served one after
the other. A consecutive sentence means that youth are in custody longer or
on probation longer than with a concurrent sentence.

Intensive rehabilitation custody and supervision: This is a special sentence

for a serious violent offender. The judge can make this sentence if:
Youth are found guilty of one of the presumptive crimes such as murder
Youth are suffering from a mental or psychological disorder or an
emotional disturbance
An individualized treatment plan is developed for the young offender and
there is a good program to which s/he is suitable for admission
When Are Adult Sentences Used
for Youth?
murder, attempted murder,
manslaughter or sexual
aggravated assault are
presumed to receive an adult
sentence unless the youth can
persuade the court that a youth
sentence will hold the youth
The Crown may seek an adult
sentence if the youth is 14 and
if the offence is the youth's
third serious violent offence or
one which an adult could
receive more than 2 years.
YCJA Conferences
A YCJA conference is when a group of people get
together to talk about the young offenders case and
what can be done to help the young offender. The
people there are responsible for the youth and generally,
they know the youth. The conference gives advice to the
people who decide on what should happen to the youth.
(Section 19 of the YCJA).
Types of YCJA Conferences
Conferences are informal.
They can be:
Family group conferences
Community members
Sentencing or healing circles
Multi-disciplinary (probation, judges and lawyers and
Integrated case management conferences
What Happens in a Conference?
Conferences can provide:
A wide range of ideas on the case
More creative solutions
Better coordination of services between
justice partners
More involvement of the victim(s) and other
community members
Conferences can be restorative. Solutions
may focus on fixing the harm done to the
victim(s) of the crime.
Does the YCJA Recognize the
Rights of the Victim?
YCJA clearly recognizes the interest and
needs of victims to be involved at different
stages of the youth justice process.
Section 3 says that "Victims should be
treated with courtesy, compassion and
respect for their dignity and privacy." YCJA
Sections 3(d) (ii) and (iii), 12, 42, 53, 111,
What Does YCJA say About
Victims of Youth Crime?
A victim should:
Be told about the proceedings
Have a chance to take part in the proceedings
Be heard
Have a chance to take part in community-based
Get information about what is being done for the
offender that does not involve going to court
Be able to give a victim impact statement (a written
report about how the crime affected the victim) at the
time of sentencing
Be able to ask for access to the record of the youth
who committed the crime
Textbook: Pages
pp. 306-314 (Questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 6)