Background for YCJA

Part A: Use of the Youth Court

There is considerable variation in the rate that provinces bring cases [2] into youth court. Figure A1 shows the rate (per 1,000 youths in the jurisdiction age 12 to 17) of bringing cases into youth court overall in Canada and in the individual provinces and territories. Quebec, for example, brings in cases at a rate of 20.1 per 1,000 youths while Ontario brings cases in a t a rate of 45 per 1,000.

Figure A1: Rate of bringing cases into youth court

Figure A1: Rate of bringing cases into youth court per province

Description

Table A1 shows the exact number for the total number of cases coming into court and the rate (per 1,000 youths) of bringing cases into court. However, another way to express this difference is to calculate the number of youths for every one case. This is expressed in the last column of data (Table A1). So, for example, Quebec has one youth court case for every 50 youths while Ontario has one youth court case for every 22 youths.

Table A1: Provincial Variation in the use of Youth Court (1998-9)
  Total number of cases coming into couth court Cases per 1,000 youths in the population 1 case per youths in the population
Canada 106,665 43.5 23
NFLD 2,142 43.2 23
PEI 324 26.8 37
Nova Scotia 3,158 41.9 24
New Brunswick 1,999 32.3 31
Quebec 11,297 20.1 50
Ontario 40,697 45.0 22
Manitoba 8,477 87.1 11
Saskatchewan 8,127 84.1 12
Alberta 17,510 67.1 15
British Columbia 11,764 36.9 27

Source: Statistics Canada (2000). Youth Court Statistics 1998-9. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. (Tables 3 and 3a).

Figure A2 shows the types of cases in youth court in Canada in 1998-9. Property offences account for the majority of cases (43%) followed by violence (22%) and other criminal code offences (18%).

Figure A2: Types of cases in youth court

Figure A2: Types of cases in youth court

Description

Although provinces varyin the rate of bringing cases into court, there is less variation when examining the types of crimes in youth court. Table A2 shows the proportion of violence, property, other criminal code, YOA and drugs/other federal statutes in youth court in each province. Generally violence accounts for anywhere between 15% (Saskatchewan) to 26% (Ontario) of youth court cases and property offences account for 41% (BC) to 57% (NFLD) of youth court cases. The provinces that were bringing cases into youth court at a relatively high rate (i.e. Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta) did not appear to have more serious types of cases in court. In fact, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta tended to have the smallest proportion of violence cases (19% violence in Manitoba, 15% violence in Saskatchewan, 16% violence in Alberta) and instead had relatively large proportions of other criminal code and YOA offences.

Table A2: Types of cases (organized by principal charge[3]) in youth court (1998-9)
  All Violence All Property Other Criminal Code[4] YOA[5] Drugs/ Other federal statutes Total
Canada 22% 43% 18% 12% 5% 100%
NFLD 18% 57% 15% 8% 3% 100%
PEI 19% 53% 10% 14% 3% 100%
Nova Scotia 21% 50% 12% 12% 4% 100%
New Brunswick 20% 45% 14% 14% 7% 100%
Quebec 25% 40% 12% 11% 11% 100%
Ontario 26% 42% 18% 9% 5% 100%
Manitoba 19% 41% 24% 14% 2% 100%
Saskatchewan 15% 46% 27% 10% 2% 100%
Alberta 16% 42% 21% 18% 3% 100%
British Columbia 22% 41% 14% 19% 4% 100%
Yukon 14% 47% 16% 21% 1% 100%
NWT 21% 52% 14% 10% 3% 100%

Source: Statistics Canada (2000). Youth Court Statistics 1998-9. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. (Tables 3 and 3a).

While violence constitutes 22% of violence overall in Canada (Table A2), a closer examination reveals that close to half of the violence cases are minor assaults. Table A3 breaks down violence for Canada and shows that serious violence accounted for 2% of all violence cases in youth court, assault with a weapon accounted for 19%, robbery accounted for 14%, and minor assaults accounted for 45% of all violence cases. In the final column of data, the percent that each category of violence constitutes overall in youth court is presented. Overall, serious violence accounts for 0.5% of youth court cases, assault with a weapon accounts for 4.3% of all youth court cases, robbery accounts for 3.1%, minor assault account for 9.9% and other violence accounts for 4.4% of all youth court cases.

Table A3: Number and percent of violence cases (principal charge) in youth court (Canada, 1998-9)
  Number of cases Percent of violence cases Percent violence in all of youth court (106,665 cases)
Most Serious Violence* 550 2% 0.5%
Assault with weapon 4,540 19% 4.3%
Robbery 3,263 14% 3.1%
Minor Assaults 10,545 45% 9.9%
Other Violence 4666 20% 4.4%
Total Violence 23,564 100% 22%

*Serious violence includes: murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated assault. These are all of the offences that presumptively receive an adult sentence.
Source: Source: Statistics Canada (2000). Youth Court Statistics 1998-9. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. (Table 3).

The majority of cases in youth court are, in fact, relatively minor offences. Table A4 shows the eight categories of offences that constitute roughly 74% of the cases in youth court. Theft under 5,000 accounts for 15% of youth court cases, possession of stolen property accounts for 5% of youth court cases, failure to appear accounts for 11% and failure to comply with a disposition accounts for 12% of youth court cases. Taken together, these four cases account for 43% of cases brought into youth court. Adding in other thefts, mischief/damage, break and enters and minor assault now accounts for 74% of cases brought into youth court in Canada.

Table A4: Majority of cases (principal charge) in youth court (Canada, 1998-9)
  Total number of cases Percent
Theft under $5,000 15,801 15%
Possession of stolen property 5,208 5%
Failure to appear 11,597 11%
Failure to comply with a disposition 13,072 12%
Subtotal 45,678 43%
Other thefts 4,975 5%
Mischief/damage 5,336 5%
Break and enter 12,251 11%
Minor assault 10,545 10%
Total: Sum of eight offences 78,785 74%
All cases 106,665 100%

Source: Statistics Canada (2000). Youth Court Statistics 1998-9. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. (Table 3).


  • [2] A "case" consists of one or more charges against a young person - all of which are presented in court on the same date.
  • [3] The "principal charge" is the most serious charge in a case. When there is only one charge (e.g. break and enter) in a case, that is defined as the principle charge. However, if there are two or more charges in a case, offences are prioritized (violence is given the first priority, followed by drug offences, property offences and other criminal code offences). For example, if case consisted of a charge of break and enter and a minor assault, the principle charge would be the minor assault and the break and enter would not be identified.
  • [4] Other criminal code offences include such things as: impaired operation, escape custody, unlawfully at large, failure to appear, breach of recognizance, failure to comply with a probation order, etc.
  • [5] YOA offences include such things as: failure to comply with a disposition, failure to comply with an undertaking, contempt against youth court, etc.
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