The Youth Criminal Justice Act (the YCJA) sets out the laws and procedures that apply to youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who are charged with a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada or the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (the C.D.S.A.).
The YCJA provides enhanced protections for youth to ensure that their rights are respected. It also recognizes that accountability should be consistent with a young person’s reduced level of maturity, and creates a system of sanctions that are meaningful for young people while emphasizing rehabilitation and reintegration. Less serious offences can be addressed though extra-judicial measures, also known as extra-judicial sanctions or EJS. EJS provide young persons with meaningful consequences aimed at repairing the harm done to the victim and the community. For first-time offenders charged with minor offences, the successful completion of EJS will often result in the withdrawal of the young person’s charges. Common EJS measures can include a combination of any of the following: letter(s) of apology; restitution; participating in restorative justice conferencing; completing community service hours; and/or attending counseling.
Our lawyers work with the client, the client’s family and other justice system participants to find innovative solutions to ensure that all criminal charges are favorably resolved and that our clients stay out of the criminal justice system. In the case of more serious charges that cannot be withdrawn or favourably resolved, our number one goal is to ensure that the young person receives the best possible outcome—an acquittal at trial.
As with all of our clients, privacy and confidentiality are paramount priorities for young persons. Upon the successful resolution of the client’s matter, our office will apply to have the young person’s fingerprints and photographs expunged.