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If a youth has been charged with a criminal offence you need an experienced criminal lawyer that understands the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). Knowing the subtle differences in how youth matters are treated could make a vast difference to a youth’s future.

Accused persons between the ages of 12-18 are governed by the Youth Criminal Justice Act. For a number of good reasons, youths are not treated the same as adults by the justice system. A youth’s lack of life experience, coupled with their decision-making abilities and their prospects for rehabilitation, are all factors that are considered under the YCJA. A key principle of the YCJA is correcting criminal behaviour through rehabilitation before adulthood.

In Toronto, youth criminal matters are only handled at three courthouses:

  • 311 Jarvis Street, downtown near Dundas & Jarvis
  • Scarborough Courthouse at 1911 Eglinton Ave East
  • Metro West Courthouse at 2201 Finch Ave West


Under special circumstances, youth between the ages of 14-18 can be prosecuted as an adult under the Criminal Code of Canada, or sentenced as an adult, for certain violent offences. If a youth has been charged with a crime, it is imperative to have a youth criminal lawyer fighting by your side to ensure that they are defended to ensure the best possible defence. In Canada, children under 12 years old cannot be charged with a criminal offence.


Youth criminal records are NOT automatically erased or sealed once a youth becomes an adult. Often a youth must wait several years from the time they complete their youth sentence for this to happen. This can have lasting effects on a youth’s ability to work and travel.


Depending on the severity of charges and allegations, the Crown Attorney may agree to allow the charges to be resolved by way of EJS. There is no guilty plea, but the accused person would make an admission of responsibility for their offending behaviour and agree to participate in counselling, community service, or other appropriate sanctions. Upon the successful completion of these sanctions, the charges would be withdrawn.


Youth sentences are normally not as severe as adult sentences. Also, judges hearing youth matters have a wider range of sentencing options to assist them in crafting a sentence that helps the youth through special rehabilitation programs that protect the public where necessary and ensures both accountability by the youth with the least possible interference with their liberty.

As with adults, when being sentenced, Judges can impose Absolute Discharges or Conditional Discharges, Restitution Orders, and Probation Orders. Additionally, Youth Court Judges can impose a Judicial Reprimand, Intensive Support and Supervision, Attendance Orders, Deferred Custody and Supervision, and Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision.

To avoid having your youth sentenced for their accused crime, a youth criminal lawyer can help navigate the complicated waters of the legal system and ensure your youth gets a professional defence.

Judicial Reprimand – is a severe admonishment from a Youth Court Judge that results in no criminal record. Only used when the Court believes that the youth person has already been held accountable for their offending behaviour.

Intensive Support and Supervision – an alternative option a Judge may impose rather than jail. The youth person serves their sentence in the community and has access to programs that will assist in their rehabilitation.

Attendance Order – this is based on the youth person’s needs and circumstances. A Judge orders the youth to attend specific counselling or programs that will benefit them.

Deferred Custody and Supervision – not available for particularly violent crimes, it allows a youth person to serve their sentence in the community under supervision and with specific conditions.

Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision – this is a sentencing option that is available for violent youth offenders with a violent criminal record or youth persons suffering from mental or psychological disorders. Its purpose is to provide the youth with a tailored treatment plan and specific programs that will assist with their rehabilitation.

If you need a youth criminal lawyer from Toronto, contact William Jaksa today. Ensure that your youth gets proper legal representation and save them from having a criminal record at this crucial stage of life.