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Youth Conditional Discharge Granted

Introduction and Facts of the  Case

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My client was 13 years old at the time of being arrested and charged with assault. In this case, she was on and off again friends with the complainant. There had been bullying behaviour between both peer groups. My client felt pushed over the edge, and a physical altercation occurred. She was with her group of friends. The complainant was also with a group of friends. During this physical incident, my client was alleged to have hit, kicked, stomped, and spit on the complainant. The complainant also said my client held her by her hair and hit her head against a hard object multiple times. Finally, the complainant said that my client stomped on her cell phone.

Bullying is serious and can have devastating impacts on youths. However, in this case, the bullying behaviour went both ways.

The prosecutor viewed this case as extremely serious due to the multiple violent incidents and the attack's group nature. However, it is important to note that only my client was charged with the offence. Therefore, proceeding to trial came with a lot of risks. Ultimately, my client was not comfortable proceeding to trial. Therefore, she instructed me to get the best possible deal I could. I explained that I could argue for a conditional discharge. A conditional discharge is an order which requires the person to comply with certain conditions for a specified time period. Generally, these are NOT granted for crimes of violence. However, if granted, especially for a young person, there are significant benefits, including a shorter access period to the finding of guilt.

Legal Issues Explained

Section 42(2)(c) of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) gives the court the ability to issue a discharge for a young person. The conditions that are imposed as part of this order are mandated by section 38 of the YCJA. These conditions must meet the principles and objectives of sentencing for a young person and cannot be imposed to achieve any social measures, nor are they a substitute for mental health-related issues of child protection. In order to grant a discharge, the trial court must find it is in the "best interests of the young person". In adult matters, there is another prong to this test, "a discharge must not be contrary to the public interest". Fortunately, in youth matters, all that must be demonstrated is the young person's best interests. However, as stated above, conditional discharges for violent offences (no matter how minor they seem) are generally not granted.

How Did I Convince the Judge to Order it in This Case?

A lawyer has two important functions for a client. First, we are a shield. We protect you in court, and we protect your rights. Secondly, we are a sword. We fight for you in court. Here the prosecutor was opposed to a discharge and was fighting to secure a guilty finding and seeking a term of probation. If the prosecutor had won, that would have subjected this young person to a lengthier access period and a guilty finding of assault. In this case, my client took several steps after accepting my advice which helped me fight for her in court. In the end, the judge was convinced.

This Case Demonstrates

This case demonstrates that taking strategic steps outside the courtroom can and will help your lawyer fight for you in the courtroom. After diligent and stellar work, we were able to mitigate the risk and get the outcome the young person sought. This case also demonstrates that when a young person is charged with a criminal offence, a team-based approach between the parents, the young person and the lawyer is ideal. Here, we had three parties all working to achieve our desired goal.

If your child has been accused of a crime and bullying is part and parcel of the allegations, the prosecution is going to push the fullest extent of the law. Therefore, it is critical to have an experienced and diligent lawyer helping your child. We are serious lawyers who defend serious allegations every single day. Contact us if you need help.

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