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Eligibility for Youth Mental Health Court

Youth Mental Health Court is a specialized court in Ottawa for young persons who deal with either mental health or serious addiction issues. Eligibility for this court depends on a number of factors, ranging from the seriousness of the charges to the type of mental health illness your child has been diagnosed with, to your child's history with the criminal justice system. Further, this court is only for those young persons who are accepting responsibility for their charges. In other words, if your child has indicated that he or she is not guilty of the allegations and would like to fight the charges, this court is not for them. If on the other hand, your child accepts responsibility for the charges and he or she suffers from mental health/addiction issues, this specialized court might be the right option and you should discuss it further with your lawyer. If your lawyer agrees this is a suitable option they will fill out an application form to the court with you and your child. The application then goes to the Crown Attorney's Office for consideration. Ultimately the Crown has the discretion to decide whether your child is accepted into youth mental health court or not. If the Crown rejects the application, there is very little recourse to get them to change their mind. Given that, it is very important that as much relevant information as possible (things like medical information, history of mental health diagnosis, previous treatment etc.) is included in the application in order to give your child the best chance possible at being accepting into this rehabilitative court program.

Who is the Client in Youth Cases?

When your child is charged with a criminal offence, and you hire a lawyer to represent your child in court, it is important to remember that ultimately, it is your child that is the client and not you. This is so even when you have paid for the lawyer (which is most often the case). As a parent, you play a crucial role in the process, not only in helping your child through the process and with the decisions that lie ahead, but also in ensuring that his or her lawyer understands any particular challenges your child has faced or circumstances that may be relevant to why he or she has been charged. Your lawyer should encourage you to attend all the meetings with your child, in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Your lawyer should also encourage your child to consult you and include you in all decision making. Often times criminal charges can result in complex decisions for your child and it is extremely useful for a parent or family member to be able to offer assistance in working through those decisions. It is worth keeping in mind however that if at any time your child requests to have a private conversation with his or her lawyer, the lawyer cannot disclose the contents of that conversation to you as parent, as a result of the lawyer's obligations. This is called solicitor-client privilege. Similarly, sometimes a parent and child will be at odds as to the appropriate course of action, when this occurs, the lawyer is obligated to take your child's instructions on the issue, as ultimately, it is his or her decision to make.

Acting as a Surety for your Child

When your child is charged with a criminal offence there are a number of ways they can be released on bail. It can be done directly from the police station after they are charged, or alternatively they can be released from bail court either with the Prosecutor's consent or after a bail hearing. For more information about these processes read my blog posts titled "Your Child's Undertaking to a Peace Officer" and "Your Child's Appearance in Bail Court".

Avocats pour les adolescents

Les adolescents qui sont accusés d'une infraction criminelle sont soumis à une procédure pénale distincte de celles qui régissent les procès pénaux pour adultes. Ce ne sont pas tous les avocats de la défense criminelle qui s'occupent des personnes mineures, donc si votre enfant a été accusé d'une infraction criminelle, l'aide d'un avocat avec expérience dans le système de justice pénale pour les adolescents peut être essentielle afin de protéger ses droits.

Information that is Helpful in Getting Your Child Released on Bail

When your child is charged with a criminal offence there are a number of ways they can be released on bail. It can be done directly from the police station after they are charged, or alternatively they can be released from bail court either with the Prosecutor's consent or after a bail hearing. For more information about these processes read my blog posts titled "Your Child's Undertaking to a Peace Officer" and "Your Child's Appearance in Bail Court".

Your Child's Appearance in Bail Court

Most often, when your child is charged with a criminal offence, he or she will be released from the police station with a piece of paper titled Undertaking to a Peace Officer. Sometimes though, if the charges are particularly serious, or if your child already has a history with the criminal justice system, upon arrest he or she will not be released from the police station. Instead, your child will be transported by police from the station to the courthouse to appear in bail court. The timing of this move depends on when your child was taken into custody, but the police are obligated to bring any person taken into custody to court within twenty four hours.

What You Need to Know About Your Child's Undertkaing to a Peace Officer

Most often, when your child is charged with a criminal offence, he or she will be released from the police station with a piece of paper titled Undertaking to a Peace Officer. The title of this piece of paper does not accurately communicate how important it is. It really should be called "Bail Conditions that Must be Followed", because that's really what it is.

Navigating the youth criminal justice system

A call from the police that your child has been arrested and charged with a criminal offence is often in keeping with a parent's worst nightmare. While your head will be swirling with fear and panic, it is helpful as a first step to gain some understanding of the court process. Navigating the criminal system can feel confusing and overwhelming but it is important to remember that generally most youth cases follow all of the same steps.

New Stats from Statistics Canada on Youth Crime in Canada

In a recently published report from Statistics Canada on Youth Crime in Canada, using data from 2014, youth aged 12 to 17 were more than twice as likely to be charged with a crime in 2014 as people aged 25 and older. In 2014, there were 101,000 youth aged 12 to 17 charged with a criminal offence. While youths ages 12 to 17 make up 7% of the Canadian population, they accounted for 13% of individuals charged in 2014. This, however, is a decrease in the youth crime rate, which has been declining since its peak in 1991, and since 2000 has fallen 42%. Despite its continual decrease, youths are charged at a disproportionate rate. The criminal justice system is daunting to most people, and that is only exasperated by a youth's age.

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