Youth Criminal Justice Act (S.C. 2002, c. 1)

Act current to 2016-09-18 and last amended on 2015-07-19. Previous Versions

Declaration of Principle

Marginal note:Policy for Canada with respect to young persons
  •  (1) The following principles apply in this Act:

    • (a) the youth criminal justice system is intended to protect the public by

      • (i) holding young persons accountable through measures that are proportionate to the seriousness of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the young person,

      • (ii) promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of young persons who have committed offences, and

      • (iii) supporting the prevention of crime by referring young persons to programs or agencies in the community to address the circumstances underlying their offending behaviour;

    • (b) the criminal justice system for young persons must be separate from that of adults, must be based on the principle of diminished moral blameworthiness or culpability and must emphasize the following:

      • (i) rehabilitation and reintegration,

      • (ii) fair and proportionate accountability that is consistent with the greater dependency of young persons and their reduced level of maturity,

      • (iii) enhanced procedural protection to ensure that young persons are treated fairly and that their rights, including their right to privacy, are protected,

      • (iv) timely intervention that reinforces the link between the offending behaviour and its consequences, and

      • (v) the promptness and speed with which persons responsible for enforcing this Act must act, given young persons’ perception of time;

    • (c) within the limits of fair and proportionate accountability, the measures taken against young persons who commit offences should

      • (i) reinforce respect for societal values,

      • (ii) encourage the repair of harm done to victims and the community,

      • (iii) be meaningful for the individual young person given his or her needs and level of development and, where appropriate, involve the parents, the extended family, the community and social or other agencies in the young person’s rehabilitation and reintegration, and

      • (iv) respect gender, ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences and respond to the needs of aboriginal young persons and of young persons with special requirements; and

    • (d) special considerations apply in respect of proceedings against young persons and, in particular,

      • (i) young persons have rights and freedoms in their own right, such as a right to be heard in the course of and to participate in the processes, other than the decision to prosecute, that lead to decisions that affect them, and young persons have special guarantees of their rights and freedoms,

      • (ii) victims should be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect for their dignity and privacy and should suffer the minimum degree of inconvenience as a result of their involvement with the youth criminal justice system,

      • (iii) victims should be provided with information about the proceedings and given an opportunity to participate and be heard, and

      • (iv) parents should be informed of measures or proceedings involving their children and encouraged to support them in addressing their offending behaviour.

  • Marginal note:Act to be liberally construed

    (2) This Act shall be liberally construed so as to ensure that young persons are dealt with in accordance with the principles set out in subsection (1).

  • 2002, c. 1, s. 3;
  • 2012, c. 1, s. 168.

PART 1Extrajudicial Measures

Principles and Objectives

Marginal note:Declaration of principles

 The following principles apply in this Part in addition to the principles set out in section 3:

  • (a) extrajudicial measures are often the most appropriate and effective way to address youth crime;

  • (b) extrajudicial measures allow for effective and timely interventions focused on correcting offending behaviour;

  • (c) extrajudicial measures are presumed to be adequate to hold a young person accountable for his or her offending behaviour if the young person has committed a non-violent offence and has not previously been found guilty of an offence; and

  • (d) extrajudicial measures should be used if they are adequate to hold a young person accountable for his or her offending behaviour and, if the use of extrajudicial measures is consistent with the principles set out in this section, nothing in this Act precludes their use in respect of a young person who

    • (i) has previously been dealt with by the use of extrajudicial measures, or

    • (ii) has previously been found guilty of an offence.

Marginal note:Objectives

 Extrajudicial measures should be designed to

  • (a) provide an effective and timely response to offending behaviour outside the bounds of judicial measures;

  • (b) encourage young persons to acknowledge and repair the harm caused to the victim and the community;

  • (c) encourage families of young persons — including extended families where appropriate — and the community to become involved in the design and implementation of those measures;

  • (d) provide an opportunity for victims to participate in decisions related to the measures selected and to receive reparation; and

  • (e) respect the rights and freedoms of young persons and be proportionate to the seriousness of the offence.

Warnings, Cautions and Referrals

Marginal note:Warnings, cautions and referrals
  •  (1) A police officer shall, before starting judicial proceedings or taking any other measures under this Act against a young person alleged to have committed an offence, consider whether it would be sufficient, having regard to the principles set out in section 4, to take no further action, warn the young person, administer a caution, if a program has been established under section 7, or, with the consent of the young person, refer the young person to a program or agency in the community that may assist the young person not to commit offences.

  • Marginal note:Saving

    (2) The failure of a police officer to consider the options set out in subsection (1) does not invalidate any subsequent charges against the young person for the offence.

Marginal note:Police cautions

 The Attorney General, or any other minister designated by the lieutenant governor of a province, may establish a program authorizing the police to administer cautions to young persons instead of starting judicial proceedings under this Act.

Marginal note:Crown cautions

 The Attorney General may establish a program authorizing prosecutors to administer cautions to young persons instead of starting or continuing judicial proceedings under this Act.

Marginal note:Evidence of measures is inadmissible

 Evidence that a young person has received a warning, caution or referral mentioned in section 6, 7 or 8 or that a police officer has taken no further action in respect of an offence, and evidence of the offence, is inadmissible for the purpose of proving prior offending behaviour in any proceedings before a youth justice court in respect of the young person.

Extrajudicial Sanctions

Marginal note:Extrajudicial sanctions
  •  (1) An extrajudicial sanction may be used to deal with a young person alleged to have committed an offence only if the young person cannot be adequately dealt with by a warning, caution or referral mentioned in section 6, 7 or 8 because of the seriousness of the offence, the nature and number of previous offences committed by the young person or any other aggravating circumstances.

  • Marginal note:Conditions

    (2) An extrajudicial sanction may be used only if

    • (a) it is part of a program of sanctions that may be authorized by the Attorney General or authorized by a person, or a member of a class of persons, designated by the lieutenant governor in council of the province;

    • (b) the person who is considering whether to use the extrajudicial sanction is satisfied that it would be appropriate, having regard to the needs of the young person and the interests of society;

    • (c) the young person, having been informed of the extrajudicial sanction, fully and freely consents to be subject to it;

    • (d) the young person has, before consenting to be subject to the extrajudicial sanction, been advised of his or her right to be represented by counsel and been given a reasonable opportunity to consult with counsel;

    • (e) the young person accepts responsibility for the act or omission that forms the basis of the offence that he or she is alleged to have committed;

    • (f) there is, in the opinion of the Attorney General, sufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution of the offence; and

    • (g) the prosecution of the offence is not in any way barred at law.

  • Marginal note:Restriction on use

    (3) An extrajudicial sanction may not be used in respect of a young person who

    • (a) denies participation or involvement in the commission of the offence; or

    • (b) expresses the wish to have the charge dealt with by a youth justice court.

  • Marginal note:Admissions not admissible in evidence

    (4) Any admission, confession or statement accepting responsibility for a given act or omission that is made by a young person as a condition of being dealt with by extrajudicial measures is inadmissible in evidence against any young person in civil or criminal proceedings.

  • Marginal note:No bar to judicial proceedings

    (5) The use of an extrajudicial sanction in respect of a young person alleged to have committed an offence is not a bar to judicial proceedings under this Act, but if a charge is laid against the young person in respect of the offence,

    • (a) the youth justice court shall dismiss the charge if it is satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the young person has totally complied with the terms and conditions of the extrajudicial sanction; and

    • (b) the youth justice court may dismiss the charge if it is satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the young person has partially complied with the terms and conditions of the extrajudicial sanction and if, in the opinion of the court, prosecution of the charge would be unfair having regard to the circumstances and the young person’s performance with respect to the extrajudicial sanction.

  • Marginal note:Laying of information, etc.

    (6) Subject to subsection (5) and section 24 (private prosecutions only with consent of Attorney General), nothing in this section shall be construed as preventing any person from laying an information or indictment, obtaining the issue or confirmation of any process or proceeding with the prosecution of any offence in accordance with law.

 
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