Many parents are shocked to discover youths are held to the same legal standards as adults, in regards to the law and the Criminal Code of Canada. Yong offenders can be charged with any crime listed in the Criminal Code, regardless of their age, since the Criminal Code makes no distinction in regards to the law and age of the accused. Youths can be charged with theft, robbery, sexual assault, domestic assault, assault, drug offences, and so on, just like any adult.
However, youth criminal offenders are handled differently compared to adults charged with similar offences. These guidelines and regulations are contained within the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The sole purpose of the YCJA is to rehabilitate young offenders, rather than impose harsh punishments and penalties, commonly reserved for adult offenders. It is important to keep in mind, while the YCJA does have the goal to rehabilitate youths, there are certain types of offences where the severity of punishments can be just as harsh as an adult could face, if convicted and found guilty of the crime.
Providing sound legal advice and defence against youth criminal offences does require seeking out a qualified and experienced youth lawyer in Toronto, like Rishma Gupta. These types of offences have vital differences directly related to the arrest, police questioning and interviews, and prosecution of alleged youth suspects.
Key topics within the YCJA directly relate to:
- The methods used by police to question, interview, and obtain statements.
- The admissibility of statements as evidence when made by a young offender.
- Court directives on how youth bail hearings are conducted.
- Specific guidelines on conducting cases that will go to trial.
- The procedures allowed under the law for bail appeals and appealing cases.
- The sentencing guidelines used by courts to prescribe penalties and punishments for young offenders found guilty of their charges.
- If and when a young offender’s criminal record will be sealed after reaching the age of majority (18).
- A Word about Sentencing Guidelines
As parents, it is important to remember the offence your child has been charged with is by no means less serious than had it been committed by an adult. While the YCJA does strive to rehabilitate young offenders, the penalties and punishments of being found guilty are still often directly related to the seriousness of the crime. For certain serious offences, your child could be sentenced to imprisonment in a young offenders’ detention center. Furthermore, rehabilitation efforts could include counselling, educational courses, community service, and other such methods.
A Word about Sealing of Records
Parents often assume their child’s criminal record will automatically seal once they turn 18, which is not always true. There are times the records can remain open well after their 18th birthday and continue to affect their future prospects for employment, education, travel, and so on. Ms. Gupta can provide legal assistance in determining if and when the record will be sealed, as well as what conditions must be satisfied for the record to be sealed.
If you been contacted by the police to bring your child in for questioning regarding a criminal matter or they have been formally charged, you and your child deserve representation from an experienced youth criminal defence lawyer, like Rishma Gupta. Contact Ms. Gupta today to discuss your child’s charges and what legal options and potential defences could be used to fight the charges.