Slightly less than half of all criminal offenders admitted to the Canadian prison system were charged with a crime relating to substance abuse. While alcohol was responsible for the most significant number of these crimes, other substances like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin were involved in some other cases.
Young people comprise approximately 14% of the individuals charged with criminal drug offences in Canada. Nearly 70% of those charges are for drug possession. By contrast, 54% of adult illegal drug possession charges were for drug possession, so the rates are higher for juveniles. However, adults were more likely to be charged with drug trafficking or the production of drugs.
Overall, though, youth crime rates are on the decline. While crime falls across the country, youth crime rates are falling at an even more accelerated rate.
What Are the Consequences of Drug Criminal Charges for Juvenile Defendants?
The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) has special provisions to help determine the sentencing of juvenile criminal offenders. Originally going into effect in early 2003, the Act replaced the Young Offenders Act and sought to define youth and their punishments if found guilty (or if they plead guilty) of a crime.
YCJA governs criminal offenders over the age of 12 but younger than 18 at the time of their offence. Under the YCJA, minors aged between 14 and 17 may be charged as adults under certain qualifying conditions.
Some sentences handed down by criminal courts include community-based consequences, such as performing community service under strict conditions and a watchful eye. Other penalties may require that the youth serve time in a youth custody facility. The maximum length of juvenile sentencing ranges between two years and a decade, depending upon the severity of the crimes committed.
The prosecution is encouraged to consider sentences usually reserved for adults when the youth was found guilty of rape, manslaughter, murder, or attempted murder.
What Does Rehabilitation Look Like for a Juvenile Drug Offender?
Upon release from a youth custody facility, every juvenile offender is given a period of support and supervision within the community they’re attempting to reintegrate into. During this time, they are also likely to continue rehab services to ensure that the life of drug abuse which landed them in trouble with the law is well and truly part of the past.
What Sort of Legal Representation Can a Drug Offence Lawyer Offer?
Not all lawyers are created equal. Some only tell their clients what they want to hear, which does a disservice to the client and their family. Others may be competent lawyers in their field of choice but are otherwise not suited to all types of criminal cases. For example, if you’re facing charges for a drug offence, you want a criminal defence lawyer with experience representing juvenile criminal offenders. You don’t want to hire a real estate attorney who has never worked a criminal defence case in their life.
As your legal representative, your lawyer will examine the facts, build the case, and do what they can to either reduce sentencing or dismiss charges altogether.
Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Toronto Criminal Defence Lawyer
If you are a young person charged with drug offences in Toronto – or if you are the parent or guardian of a juvenile accused of a drug offence – contact the law offices of William Jaksa Criminal Litigation immediately. These charges must be taken seriously. A conviction from an overly ambitious prosecutor could have consequences that forever shape the future of a juvenile defendant, limiting their options for employment. The sooner a criminal lawyer can examine the facts of the case, the sooner they can begin building a solid legal defence strategy.
Criminal defence lawyer William Jaksa has nearly two decades of experience representing clients in criminal law practice areas. With an excellent track record of success, a solid reputation with the bar, and good reviews from clients and colleagues, he is one of Toronto’s top criminal defence lawyers for defendants needing compassionate, honest legal services.
To schedule a consultation, contact the Toronto law firm at 647-951-8078.