Toronto Youth Criminal Justice Lawyer

Toronto Criminal Defence Lawyers Representing Youth Clients and Youth Criminal Justice Act Matters

Young people who are charged with committing a crime are dealt with in a court system separate from adults. While young people are still charged with Criminal Code offences, they are dealt with under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (“YCJA”). The definition of a young person under the YCJA is a person twelve years or older but less than eighteen years old.

The YCJA recognizes that young people have heightened vulnerability, less maturity and a reduced capacity for moral judgment. As such young persons are entitled to a presumption of diminished moral culpability or blameworthiness under the YCJA.

The YCJA provides enhanced procedural protection to youths facing charges. These protections begin upon arrest and extend through to trial and any sentencing. In addition, with some exceptions, youth records are sealed and not disclosed even after the individual becomes an adult.

The YCJA and Youth Court Justice System promote accountability in the young person but also promote rehabilitation and reintegration of the young person. Youth sentencing or penalties are focused on rehabilitation, and often involve young persons being referred to community agencies or programs to address the underlying offending behavior. Jail sentences are a last resort, and reserved for the most serious of offences, including rare instances where the youth is sentenced as an adult.

While sentencing under the YCJA may be less punitive, there can still be consequences associated with measures proposed by the police or Crown Attorney’s office. It is important to be aware of sentencing and resolution options available under the YCJA.

For example, the difference between routinely used options like Extrajudicial measures (EJM) and Extrajudicial sanctions (EJS) is important. EJM involves pre-charge measures taken by the police to keep the youth out of the criminal justice system while EJS are post-charge programs the Crown may offer to withdraw the charge once the youth accepts responsibility. While EJS may appear to be an attractive option, in certain cases it may not be appropriate and may have consequences a youth client should avoid.

Dealing with youth charges and navigating the Youth Justice System and YCJA can be complicated. Seeking legal assistance from a lawyer familiar with the system is a wise decision.

The Importance of Seeking Legal Counsel

If you are a youth or a parent with a child facing youth charges, it is essential to consult an experienced criminal defence lawyer. Our team of skilled Toronto criminal defence lawyers are able to appreciate the intricacies of dealing with young people facing criminal charges. They will review the details of the case with the young person, provide guidance on the best course of action, and ensure their rights are protected throughout the legal process.

We offer multiple convenient locations in Toronto, Whitby, Barrie and more to serve our clients better. To begin your initial consultation and find the right criminal lawyer, please contact us at (416) 449-1400.


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