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Steps in a youth case

What if I'm charged with committing a crime?

Just because the police think that you might have committed a crime, you won't always be charged. But, if you're charged, the process is complicated.

The flowchart below shows the general steps that might happen (pdficon_small PDF).

If I'm charged with a crime
The Crown attorney reviews your chargeScreening by the Crown means that the Crown attorney, who's the lawyer who presents the case against you, reviews the criminal charge to see if: there's a reasonable chance that they can prove the case against youit's in the interest of the public to continue with the criminal charge in court When dealing with young people, the Crown attorney also looks at whether there are other ways to deal with the case without having a trial.X
(This happens throughout the process)
NO
Does the Crown attorneyThe Crown attorney, who is sometimes called a prosecutor, is a lawyer who presents the case against you in court.X
continue with the charge?
YES
Your charge is stayedStayed means that the judge orders that the court process pause or end. If it's paused, this means that the court process could start again within a year. And if it isn't started again, the court process ends. If it's ended, this means you're not found guilty. X ,
withdrawnWithdrawn means that the Crown attorney, who's the lawyer who presents the case against you, decides not to continue with your charges. They can't bring the same charges back. So your case ends and you're not found guilty.X , or dismissedIf your charges are dismissed, this means that your case is over and you're not found guilty.X
OR
Your charge is withdrawn because the Crown attorney cautionsA Crown caution is when the Crown attorney, who's the lawyer who presents the case against you, explains the impact of what you've done and what the law could do to you if you're caught doing the same thing again. They might tell you this or put it in a letter. You're not found guilty and don't get a youth court record.X you or offers you conditions like taking part in community service or an informal program
OR
The Crown attorney refers you to
extrajudicial sanctions Extrajudicial sanctions are special programs that a young person can take part in as a way to take responsibility for a crime without pleading or being found guilty. They're sometimes called "diversion". They aren't offered in every case. They're usually only for minor crimes. If they're offered, you have to decide if you want to take part. If you finish the program, your court case is over and you won't have a youth court record. X and
you agree
You complete
the program
You don't complete
the program
Your charge is stayedStayed means that the judge orders that the court process pause or end. If it's paused, this means that the court process could start again within a year. And if it isn't started again, the court process ends. If it's ended, this means you're not found guilty. X , withdrawnWithdrawn means that the Crown attorney, who's the lawyer who presents the case against you, decides not to continue with your charges. They can't bring the same charges back. So your case ends and you're not found guilty.X , or dismissedIf your charges are dismissed, this means that your case is over and you're not found guilty.X
You might have to go to court
several times before your trial
About bail
You'll have a bail hearing if the police keep you in custodyBeing held in custody means that you're not free to go. You might be held in custody by the police. For example, you're in police custody if the police arrest you and are taking you to the police station. Or, the court might order that you be held in custody. This might happen if you're found guilty and sentenced to stay in a youth custody facility, which is often called jail.X after they
arrest you
A bail hearing must happen within 24 hours of when you're arrested
At a bail hearing, a judge or justice of the peace decides if the police can keep you in custody or must let you go
About pleading guilty
You can plead guilty at any point
in this process
Your trial
You're found not guilty, which is also called acquittedAcquitted means that the court found you not guilty of the crime you were accused of.X
You're found guilty
A pre-sentence reportA pre-sentence report is a written report that recommends what your sentence should be. It's usually written by a probation officer. The report is based on interviews with you and, if possible, interviews with your family members and the victim of the crime.X might be prepared for the judge
You have a sentencing hearing

You get a sentenceA sentence is the punishment that the court gives you if you're found guilty.X

The court can order more than one type of sentence. Examples of youth sentences are probationProbation is a sentence where a probation officer supervises you and you have to follow certain conditions, such as reporting to the probation officer and staying out of other legal trouble.X ,
a reprimandReprimand is a sentence where you get a warning or lecture from a judge.X , a fine, and a custodial sentenceIf you get a custodial sentence, this means that you've been sentenced to stay in a youth custody facility, which is often called jail.X , which is sometimes called time in jail.

Click on the flowchart below to see the general steps that might happen.

flowchart

(Reviewed August 2015)

Help – I need a lawyer

If you're being questioned by the police and they won't let you go, ask them to call the Duty counsel hotline at 1-800-265-0451. The police can call this number 24 hours a day.

  1. The police will tell the duty counsel lawyer what you're being charged with.
  2. You'll be able to speak to the duty counsel lawyer over the phone.
  3. The duty counsel lawyer can give you up to 20 minutes of free legal advice over the phone. This is meant to help you until you can get your own lawyer.

Does this information apply to me?

This website has information about the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The Act applies if you're at least 12 but younger than 18 when you're accused of committing a crime.

The Act creates special rules and procedures for young people.

The Act only applies if you're accused of breaking a federal law. Federal laws apply in all Canadian provinces and territories. The main federal law is the Criminal Code. Things like theft and assault are crimes under the Criminal Code.