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?
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!
I came to Stephen Hebscher with a somewhat irregular case. Both my spouse and I had been mutually charged with domestic assault, a legal situation that neither of us had wished upon each other. While my spouse's lawyer had been content to seek mutually binding peace bonds, Stephen was able to get in front of the case and negotiate a withdrawal of both of our charges- the best possible outcome on BOTH sides of the table – once we successfully completing the PARs program. I remain entirely pleased with Stephen's competency, professionalism and accessibility, and would not hesitate to recommend him as a criminal defence lawyer. L.A.
Mr. Hebscher: I would like to thank you for your excellent representation of me in relation to the domestic assault charges that you worked so hard to have withdrawn. You have made a critical difference in my future and I am very happy with the outcome. I also appreciate your hard work, and the extra time and effort you have put in to deal with all the other issues that came along. I thank you for being a phone call away (or email) even when you did not have to be. I will gladly recommend your services to any of my friends or family should they ever need it. I am very grateful for what you have done.
I am impressed especially after our meeting on Monday – I was resigned that something bad would befall me, so I am very blessed to have this outcome. I thank you for the hard work that you have put into this case, and the dedication on getting me this fantastic outcome! I am so glad that we retained you as my lawyer! You have done an outstanding job and allowed me to now rebuild my life. Thank you, Bruce Karten.
Dave B. (Ajax, Ontario)
We were referred to Stephen Hebscher when our child was in need of legal representation. He was charged with sexual assault. As parents, we were quite frightened for our child but Mr. Hebscher was the calm voice of reason. We are very grateful to Mr. Hebscher for the excellent results he got for our child, as the charges were dropped.
J.N. (Toronto, Ontario)
Mr. Hebscher is a very professional lawyer who takes pride in his work and because of this the end result was the judge ruling me not guilty and I got my innocence and life back. My family and I would like to thank you again Stephen Hebscher for doing a wonderful job and also being a very supportive man.
Chris T. (Scarborough, Ontario)
I am happy to report that Bruce’s superior negotiation strategy and ability to present facts effectively helped convince the Crown to reduce his position. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bruce for getting my charge withdrawn and keep my criminal record clean.
J.S (Toronto, Ontario)
I looked and found Barrister Stephen Hebscher I introduced myself and my case and after listening to all details he was able to ensure me that my case would go well. All charges against me have be thrown out and my life is back to normal.
Blair H. (North York)
Bruce ...The care and concern you showed us during our dealings certainly helped to reduce the stress we were under. I would recommend you without a second thought. Your winning record is a bonus as well. My husband and myself can't thank you enough for all you've done for our family.
Debi T. (Mississauga, Ontario)
Dear Mr. Hebscher...There are not enough words to express my appreciation for your...giving me your undivided attention at all times, work in my case with your heart and soul, that makes you "ONE OF A KIND" lawyer.
Ahmed A. (Brampton, Ontario)
Mr. Bruce Karten was able to help to extricate me from a very serious criminal case containing severe charges, including weapons –threat to use weapons, death threat, harassment,etc. He succeeded in winning my case. I was discharged; was able to keep my career, and no criminal record. This was a tremendous accomplishment, and I am very appreciative of that.
Nickolai V. (Toronto, Ontario)
Again, from the depth of our hearts we sincerely thank you very much for being my Counsel on this case. We now can say you are the BEST and we will surely recommend you to our friends and anybody here we know who needs the best Lawyer in Ontario. You have done an extremely good job and we are very happy with the outcome this morning.
Roman A. (Markham, Ontario)
Mr. Hebscher was the only lawyer who gave me hope and made me feel like I had a real fighting chance. I am extremely satisfied with the quick results that he delivered, and I am happy to say that he was able to convince the court to drop the charges against me and clear my name.
Tina M. (Toronto, Ontario)