Trying Young Offenders Under Youth Criminal Justice Act In Toronto

The Young Offenders Act is a Canadian federal law that currently has amendments that govern how young people aged 12 to 17 are sentenced under the criminal justice system. The act sets out a variety of youth sentences and programs for those who have committed a crime. Young offenders face lighter punishments and enjoy more opportunities for rehabilitation than adults.

 Who Is A Young Offender?

A young offender is a person between the ages of 12 and 17 who is alleged to have committed an offence. The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) applies to all young offenders, regardless of whether they are charged as adults or juveniles.

The youth justice system deals with many young offenders, separate from the adult criminal justice system. The youth justice system is designed to rehabilitate young offenders and protect the public while also considering young people’s unique needs and circumstances.

If a young offender is found guilty of an offence, they can be given a wide range of sentences, including probation, community service, fines, and in some cases, custody. The penalties imposed depend on the seriousness of the offence, the offender’s age and criminal history, and the offence’s impact on the victim.

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How Is A Young Person Treated Differently?

A youth sentence is different from an adult sentence in many ways. The YCJA aims to rehabilitate young offenders and help them turn their lives around. By treating young offenders differently than adults, the hope is that they will not re-offend and instead become productive members of society.

For example, youth sentences are shorter and less likely to involve jail time. Young offenders also have more restrictions placed on them, such as being placed on probation or ordered to attend counselling.

The YCJA also gives judges more flexibility when sentencing young offenders. For example, judges can order that a young offender perform community service instead of going to jail.

How Does the Youth Criminal Justice Act Work?

The YCJA is a federal law that applies to all young offenders between the ages of 12 and 17. The law sets out the principles that guide the youth justice system in Canada, including the need to hold young offenders accountable for their actions while taking into account their age and level of maturity.

The YCJA also recognizes that many young offenders can make positive changes, providing them with opportunities to do so. Under the law, police and prosecutors can divert young offenders away from the formal justice system when appropriate.

When a young offender is found guilty of an offence, the court must consider whether a custodial sentence is necessary to protect the public or rehabilitate the offender. If a custodial sentence is imposed, the court must also consider whether alternatives to incarceration, such as supervision or attendance at a youth rehabilitation program, would be more appropriate.

Recent Updates to the YCJA

In recent years, the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) has come under fire for its perceived leniency towards young offenders. In response to this criticism, the Canadian government has made many changes to the Act to ensure that young offenders are appropriately punished for their crimes.

Some of the most significant changes to the YCJA include the following:

  • Introducing mandatory minimum sentences for certain serious offences, such as murder and attempted murder;
  • Eliminating the possibility of conditional sentences for serious crimes;
  • Making it easier for young offenders to be tried as adults in certain circumstances;
  • Restrict diversion programs where a young offender is accused of a serious crime.

If you or your minor faces criminal charges, you want to hire a top criminal lawyer in Toronto to help you understand the YCJA. 

When Can A Young Person Be Tried As An Adult?

Before the YCJA came into effect in 2003, young offenders were treated as adults under the criminal justice system. The YCJA created a separate youth justice system with rules and procedures to rehabilitate young offenders and reintegrate them into society.

The YCJA only applies in cases where the offence is serious enough that the offender would be liable for adult punishment if convicted. For less serious crimes, young offenders can still be tried as adults if they waive their right to a youth sentence and choose to be tried in adult court. 

In addition, Crown prosecutors can request that a young offender be tried as an adult in cases of serious violence, where there is a significant risk of reoffending, or where the gravity of the offence warrants it.

If a young offender is tried as an adult and convicted, they will receive an adult sentence. This means they will serve their sentence in an adult correctional facility rather than a youth custody centre. Adult penalties are generally harsher than those imposed on young offenders under the YCJA, so this is considered a last-resort option for serious offences.

The YCJA is controversial legislation, with many opinions on its effectiveness. The YCJA has significantly impacted young offenders in Canada.

The YCJA was created to reduce the number of young offenders in the criminal justice system by giving police and prosecutors more flexibility when dealing with young offenders and providing alternative measures to incarceration for young offenders willing to take responsibility for their actions.


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