Defending Young Offenders
Youth Offence Lawyer
Because youth often do not have adults’ judgment and experience, charges against them are treated differently than an adult. Depending on the severity of the crime and the accused’s age, they could be tried as an adult. However, most often, young offenders are charged and convicted under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
A young offender is considered anyone over the age of 12 but under the age of 18. Typically the courts’ ruling aims to help rehabilitate the youth and reintegrate them as a standing member of society. Young offenders are considered to be more responsive to rehabilitation than adults.
Youth Criminal Justice Act
Youth offences are tried in youth court and are dealt with under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) legislation. The offences are the same as what you would see an adult face. However, the courts have a different set of rules and guidelines when adjudicating youth offences.
Under the YCJA, every judge must ensure the punishment for the crime accomplishes two goals:
- The Accused Is Accountable For Their Actions
- The Punishment Encourages Rehabilitation & Reintegration Into Society
In addition to the special considerations when handing down punishment, offenders charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act are also entitled to specific treatments after being arrested. These considerations include:
- Bail Eligibility
- Legal Representation During All Criminal Proceedings
- The Right To A Fair Trial
- Media Publication Ban Of Their Name
- Guardian Or Legal Representation During Questioning
- Juvenile Record Accessibility
- A Fair Sentence Based On Their Level Of Responsibility & Consequence Awareness
Commonly youth matters can be redirected to a program called extra-judicial sanctions. This could see the punishment served through community service hours through fines or other means to prevent an official criminal conviction on your record.
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Preventing & Rehabilitating Youth Offenders
The youth criminal justice system was built to prevent crime by addressing young offenders early and figuring out the underlying factors of their alleged behaviour. The goal is to rehabilitate young offenders and ensure the consequences/punishments are meaningful and productive.
The system does not want to punish young offenders unnecessarily but instead reinforce societal values and integrate them back into society after rehabilitation.
Special considerations for young offenders
Parents must be informed before their children are prosecuted. Law enforcement is also somewhat limited in how they can take statements from alleged young offenders, as they are entitled to have a parent present when being interviewed.
If law enforcement violates the rights of an alleged young offender, the statement will likely be inadmissible in court.
Privacy for young offenders
Young offenders get special considerations for their privacy. Their identities cannot be disclosed during criminal proceedings or within the media, even when they are found guilty. The court and subsequent media outlets can only refer to the young offender with their initials.
Unlike adults, the records of a young offender’s criminal history end up being sealed forever, unless they recommit another crime within a specific time frame. Sealing a youth’s criminal record allows them to reintegrate into society and get a second chance at life.
If your child is currently being prosecuted as a young offender, contact Ross Lutz Barrister’s defence lawyers today. Our team is qualified and experienced when it comes to practicing youth criminal justice, and you can trust that our lawyers will provide them with the best possible defence.