Young offenders

A young person aged 12 to 17 who commits a crime may be called a young offender. They appear in a special court called a Youth Court. The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) sets out what can happen to youth who commit offences. The YCJA realizes that:

  • the youth justice system must be separate from the adult system;
  • it is important to involve families, victims, and communities in the youth criminal justice system; and
  • alternatives to the formal court process often work better with young people who have committed less serious offences.

The YCJA takes victims' interests and needs into account and recognizes their role at different stages of the youth justice process. Victims must be:

  • informed about the proceedings;
  • given an opportunity to participate in the youth justice process; and
  • treated with courtesy, compassion, and respect for their dignity and privacy.

Victims can ask for information in police and court records.

The harm done to victims must be considered by the Court at the sentencing of a young person.

Learn more about the YCJA and Canada's youth justice system.

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