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Youth Crime / Young Offenders

Youth Crimes Defence Lawyer Toronto

A juvenile or youth between the ages of 12 and (under) 18 who is alleged to have committed a criminal offence in Toronto will be prosecuted under the Youth Criminal Justice Act of Canada (YCJA), which came into effect on April 21, 2003, replacing the Young Offender’s Act. They will be tried in youth (juvenile) court.

Children under the age of 12 cannot be prosecuted for committing a crime, while, in other circumstances, minors between the ages of 14 and 18 can be tried in adult court under the Criminal Code of Canada for especially heinous violent crimes.

Contrary to the popular opinion expressed by many young people, a criminal record from youth court is not automatically erased once the young person turns 18.  In fact, the young person must wait between 2 and 7 years from the time their youth sentence expires, and he or she must remain out of trouble during this time, for their youth court record to be erased.  Actually, the record is not erased, but the language used in the Youth Criminal Justice Act speaks of “access” to records.  Thus, there is no longer “access” to a young person’s youth court record only once the relevant time period has passed and the young person has remained “crime free”.  So, a criminal conviction for a youth crime can have serious consequences for a young person who seeks to learn from his or her mistakes and become a productive member of society.

A young person who comes from an unfortunate background may, due to upheaval at home, find himself or herself in youth court, and in serious need of help in the way of counseling and guidance.  In this way, the young person’s criminal activity may be a call for help. Fortunately, The Criminal Law Team has extensive experience in accessing the services needed to help a young person and his or her family deal with the turmoil that may be underlying the criminal charges before the youth court.

Youth Crime – Has Your Child Been Accused or Charged?

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If your child has been accused of a youth crime in Toronto, it can be a frightening and difficult time for the entire family. A young person charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act is entitled to the same legal rights and privileges as an adult charged under the Criminal Code.  The Criminal Law team approaches all of our cases in the same way: first, we strategize ways to win the case by obtaining an acquittal. We will vigorously defend the charges against our client. Your teen may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, falsely accused because of a misunderstanding, or had more innocent intentions than what resulted. We have won many cases by pointing out that young people sometimes make mistakes that do not amount to criminal behaviour. It is also possible that your child made a youthful mistake that would not be repeated if given another chance. Regardless of whether we are talking about a young person who is not guilty, or one who needs guidance to “correct” their behaviour, we strongly believe that, when a young person is charged with a crime, we have a responsibility to work with the family and the young person to bring peace and harmony back to the household.  The prosecution will seek to enforce a sentence that they feel will cause the teen to take responsibility for his actions, but this can be quite subjective. We have had great success in arguing that the young person should not be removed from the family home when we have established that the young person and his family are working together to deal with issues such as school attendance, disruptive and/or violent behaviour, mental health, or obeying the rules of the home.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act is intended to correct criminal tendencies through rehabilitation, rather than penalize behaviour, unless it is judged to be necessary in the public interest to remove a young person from society due to serious violent behaviour that is at a significant risk to be repeated. The Criminal Law Team has been successful, in most circumstances, in obtaining the young person’s release on bail awaiting trial, and directed them and their families to the much-needed counseling services that will help to “correct” anti-social behaviour.  In turn, we are able to provide the court with a professional report on the progress of the young person indicating that the problems underlying their aberrant behaviour are being addressed.

Penalties for Youth Crime in Toronto

Although normally not as severe as adult sentences, penalties can still be significant for youth crimes, including juvenile detention, lengthy probation, and required counseling. Your child’s education may also be affected if they have been ordered to find an alternative school or have been expelled. Convicted juveniles also often encounter problems traveling abroad, renting property, obtaining credit, and finding gainful employment.

In many circumstances, The Criminal Law Team can negotiate an alternative to incarceration, or we will seek to have the charges dismissed or withdrawn altogether, and save the young adult from a criminal record. This becomes more difficult for repeat offenders, if it appears to the courts that, notwithstanding our efforts, and the good intentions of the parents, that the youth displays a lack of interest in avoiding a life of crime.

It is in your child’s best interest to consult with a professional, qualified criminal lawyer with experience in Youth Court. The Criminal Law Team has over 60 years of experience standing up in the courts and defending the rights of juveniles who should not have to pay the rest of their lives for making immature decisions as a minor. We will work aggressively to have the allegations against your child dropped or minimized. Our goal is to help your child succeed, get a second chance at life, and bring your family back together.  See what our other clients are saying about us.  We can help your family too!

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