Provincial Court

Youth Court FAQ

  1. What is the age limit of Youth Court?
  2. Will every young person who breaks the law appear in Youth Court?
  3. What are the procedures and rights of a young person being taken to Court?
  4. What happens to a young person who is detained in custody?
  5. What sentence can the Youth Court give?
  6. What does a committal to custody involve?
  7. Can a young person appeal against the decision of the Youth Court?
  8. What happens if a young person does not abide by the disposition?
  9. Is Youth Court open to the public?
  10. Can young people be identified by the media?
  11. Can a youth be fingerprinted and photographed?

 

1. What is the age limit of Youth Court?

Youth Court typically hears cases involving young people who are twelve years and older but less than eighteen years old. There may be exceptions when a person is older than eighteen years, but committed an offence prior to their eighteenth birthday.

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2. Will every young person who breaks the law appear in Youth Court?

Not every young person who breaks the law will appear in Youth Court. Other measures aside from formal court proceedings may be used as an alternative.

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3. What are the procedures and rights of a young person being taken to Court?

  • The youth's parents must be notified.
  • The youth has the right to legal counsel at all stages of proceedings against him or her.
  • The youth instructs his or her own counsel.
  • The youth must be informed of his or her rights at all stages of proceedings. For instance, 
    the police officer must tell him or her when apprehended and the judge must tell him or her in court.

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4. What happens to a young person who is detained in custody?

Accused young persons have the same entitlements to bail as adults who are charged with a crime.

  • The youth's parents must be notified.
  • Youths must, where possible, be detained separately from adults.
  • The Youth Court has the power to release a youth into the care of a responsible adult.
  • The youth may be released on an undertaking or recognizance.
  • A youth can be returned to custody if the conditions of his or her release are not followed.

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5. What sentence can the Youth Court give?

The dispositions available are:

  • An absolute discharge
  • A fine
  • A compensation order to the victim of the offence
  • A community service order to perform a specified amount of work for the community
  • Detention, where necessary, for treatment where the young person, the parents, and the facility consent to such an order
  • Probation for up to two years
  • Committal to intermittent or continuous custody for a specified period
  • Any additional conditions that the judge considers are in the best interest of society or the young offender, such as the surrender of illegal goods or a prohibition against the possession of firearms
  • Any combination of these dispositions as long as the combination does not exceed the stated maximum of three years

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6. What does a committal to custody involve?

A committal to custody means the young person will be admitted to a specially designated residential facility from which his or her access to the community is restricted.

  • Open custody means admission to places like community residential centres, group homes, childcare institutions or forest and wilderness camps.
  • Secure custody means admission to facilities specially designated for the secure containment or restraint of young offenders.

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7. Can a young person appeal against the decision of the Youth Court?

Yes. A young person has similar rights of appeal as an adult under the Criminal Code of Canada.

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8. What happens if a young person does not abide by the disposition?

If a young person wilfully fails or refuses to abide with a disposition, or escapes or tries to escape  from custody, he or she can be charged and tried with a specific criminal offence, and new and consecutive dispositions may then be imposed.

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9. Is Youth Court open to the public?

Yes. The judge, however, will have the authority to exclude anyone when:

  • The exclusion is in the interest of public morals, the maintenance of order, or the proper administration of justice.
  • Information being presented to the court would be seriously injurious or seriously prejudicial to any young person or child present, whether he or she is the accused, the victim or a witness.

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10. Can young people be identified by the media?

No, although details of an offence or a trial can be reported. The news media must respect the anonymity of a young person involved, whether he or she is the accused, the victim, or the witness. There are two exceptions:

  • When a police officer requests it, a Youth Court must make an order permitting publication of the identify of a youth who poses a danger to the public, if publication is necessary to aid in the apprehension of the young person.
  • A Youth Court may make an order to identify an accused person, a witness or a victim if the person to be identified requests it.

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11. Can a youth be fingerprinted and photographed?

Yes, but only with certain safeguards and when serious cases are being investigated.

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