Practice Areas

Young Offender

Young Offender Defence Lawyer in Ottawa

If you or someone you know are under the age of 18 and have been charged with a crime, you cannot be tried as an adult. You are considered a youth under the law and your case will be dealt with under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). This Act provides an alternative way of dealing with young offenders, focusing on rehabilitation more than punishment.

Punishments under the YCJA are often not as harsh as those that are given for the same offences committed by adults. Punishments may include paying restitution, attending counseling sessions, or taking part in community service programs.

The principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act:

  • The development needs and challenges faced by young people are the shared responsibility of the members of society.
  • Prevention of youth crime and addressing the underlying causes of youth crime are the responsibility of families and communities. 
  • Information about crimes committed by youth should be made available to the general public.
  • The justice system must take into account the best interests of the victims and ensure that consequences, reintegration, and rehabilitations ensure accountability for the crime committed.
  • The justice system must reserve its most serious interventions for the crimes considered most serious. It should reduce its reliance on incarceration as a punishment.

These principles of the YCJA are reflected in the special procedures, rules, and rights that are accorded to young people. Youth are considered especially vulnerable and are advised to retain counsel to represent them as soon as possible.

Sentencing under YCJA

Sentencing under the YCJA differs from sentencing an adult. The judge must first consider the principles of the YCJA. Sentences should:

  • Be similar to the sentences given for other youth in similar cases
  • Be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree to which the young person is responsible for the crime
  • Be within the proportionality limits
  • Not be more severe than the sentence an adult would receive for a similar offence