How is the Youth Criminal Justice Act Different from the Criminal Code of Canada?
Youth charged with criminal offences are dealt with under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. This Act sets out the special ways that youth ought to be treated and recognizes a number of principles that differentiate them adult accused people. Some of these principles state that:
- Young people lack the maturity of adults and that the youth system is different from the adult system in many respects, including: measures of accountability are consistent with young persons’ reduced level of maturity; procedural protections are enhanced; rehabilitation and reintegration are given special emphasis; and the importance of timely intervention is recognized;
- Punishment, sanctions, and intervention for youth are often best dealt with outside the formal court process, when dealing with non-violent and relatively minor criminal acts;
- Custodial sentences (jail) should be used only when it is absolutely necessary to protect the public from violence and serious offences;
- The criminal justice system must focus their efforts on rehabilitating and reintegrating the young persons back into the community;
- That youth should be given sentences that are meaningful to the offender and takes into consideration the effect their actions may have had on the community, the victims, and the youth himself;
- Society has a responsibility to address the developmental challenges and needs of young persons;
- Communities and families should work in partnership with others to prevent youth crime by addressing its underlying causes, responding to the needs of young persons and providing guidance and support;
- Young persons have rights and freedoms, including those set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Even though the Youth Criminal Justice Act is meant to integrate the family and youths while providing an engaging and easy to comprehend atmosphere, the same concerns and complications may arise that one would find in adult criminal courts.
Having an experienced defence counsel can assist you, or your child, in understanding the procedures and protections afforded to you.