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Steps in a youth case

What if the police think I've committed a crime?

The police use their judgment to decide what to do. They think about many things, such as the type of crime, your age, and if you've been in trouble with the police or the courts in the past.

Your lawyer explains the process and gives you advice about what might happen at each step. It's important to speak to your lawyer before you talk to the police.

The flowchart below shows what might happen if the police suspect that you've committed a crime (pdficon_small PDF).

If the police think I've
committed a crime
NO
Did the police stop
or question you?
YES
The police might still
charge you
The police ask you to stop and
answer questions
You have 4 important rights
when talking to the police:
To not
say anything
To know if and
why the police won't let you go
To speak to
a lawyer
To speak to an
adult you trust
NO
Are you charged
with a crime?
YES
The police decide not
to do anything more
OR
The police give you a warningWhen the police decide not to charge you, they may give you a warning. This means they speak to you about the impact of what you've done. And they explain what could happen if you're caught doing the same thing again.X
or a cautionWhen the police decide not to charge you, they may give you a caution. This means that the police explain the impact of what you've done and what could happen if you're caught doing the same thing again. They might tell you this or put it in a letter. If you get a caution, you won't be charged and don't have to go to court.X
OR
The police refer you to extrajudicial
measures
Extrajudicial measures are options for dealing with a young person either instead of charging them or instead of going to court. For example, the young person might do volunteer work, pay back the victim of the crime, or go to a special program. Special programs are more formal options that are called extrajudicial sanctions.X and you agree
You're not charged
The police charge you if they've
decided no other options are
appropriate
You're charged and a Crown
attorney reviews your charge
(See the flowchart "If I'm charged
with a crime
")

Click on the flowchart below to see what might happen if the police suspect that you've committed a crime.

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.