Charged as Youth (Under 18)
Teenagers under the age of 18 are treated differently by criminal courts. The regulations that govern this area of law are called the Youth Criminal Justice Code but many Ontarians still refer to it by its predecessor, the Young Offenders Act of Ontario.
It’s important to understand the Youth Code applies to how old was the defendant at the time the alleged crime was committed; not how old was the defendant when they were charged with the crime.
So technically, if a young woman is 19, but charged with a crime she allegedly committed at 17, the Youth Criminal Justice Code will apply to her case.
The Youth Criminal Justice Code means that youth arrests are handled differently, and greater attention is given to ensuring that the youth has every chance to meet with their parents and lawyer. That they truly understand what is happening every step of the way, particularly in the pre-bail process.
The Courts recognize that young people are more prone to intimidation from seasoned police offers, so they are given the right to have a parent present during all police interviews.
The issue is when young people abandon that right. Often, they are too embarrassed to reach out to family, or too frightened of how their family will react. But when they choose to go it alone, they have a hard time outwitting experienced police officers who know exactly how to get the better of them.
It is important for parents to let children know in advance that they want to help, and for the family to hire a criminal lawyer who can help their child at every step of the proceeding.