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Youth Archives

R. v. Hammerstorm - A Witness' Youth Criminal Record

Often times in a trial, the credibility of a witness is an important issue. The lawyers may seek to attack the credibility of a witness by asking them questions about their criminal record (If they have one). For example, if John Smith swears that he saw my client stealing from a grocery store, it might be helpful to highlight the fact that he himself has a criminal record for perjury (lying to a court). In those circumstances, John Smith's previous criminal conviction for perjury, is relevant to whether he is a credible a witness in my client's trial.

Youth Reprimands

The Youth Criminal Justice Act allows for a wide range of potential consequences should your child be found guilty of a criminal offence. The vast majority of the available sentences are community based (not jail) to encourage the young person to understand the consequences of their actions, but also to allow them to move forward with their life in a positive way.

The Laws that Apply to Your Child when Charged with a Crime

If your child is charged with a criminal offence there are a number of laws that may apply to his or her situation. Think of the criminal justice system like a puzzle, with a lot of smaller pieces of law that fit together to make up the bigger picture. The main acts to be considered are: the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Youth Criminal Justice Act. (There are others, like the Canada Evidence Act, that also play a role but less often).

Accused of a crime as a young offender? Know your rights

If your child faces charges as a young offender, you may be unfamiliar with the legal procedures and rules that govern criminal trials for juveniles. The Youth Criminal Justice Act applies to those between ages 12 and 18 accused of violating federal law. However, even though Ontario laws may favour rehabilitation rather than jail time for young offenders, the impact on your child's future can still be severe. Consequences could include your child being expelled from school or losing his or her ability to secure employment.

Délai déraisonnable pour les jeunes contrevenants

L'arrêt Jordan reçoit beaucoup d'attention aux médias. À travers du Canada, les juges ordonnent des arrêts de procédures pour certaines accusations qui subissent des délais déraisonnables en vertu de l'article 11(b) de la Charte. Le nouveau cadre d'analyse établi par la Cour Suprême du Canada établit un plafond présumé de 18 mois en cour provinciale. Avant Jordan, la cour évaluait le délai en vertu du cadre d'analyse Morin et devait déterminer si la présence ou l'absence de préjudice causé par le délai (incluant autres facteurs) signifiait que le délai était raisonnable ou déraisonnable. Bien que le cadre d'analyse Morin s'appliquait aux jeunes contrevenants, le préjudice était plus important pour les jeunes que les adultes dont des arrêts de procédures pour les jeunes étaient ordonnés dans des cas ou que le délai était moins qu'un adulte.

Diversion for Youth

Extrajudicial sanctions or EJS is a program for young persons charged with a criminal offence. This program is also sometimes referred to as Diversion. When a young person has never been charged with an offence, before, and when the allegation they are facing is not particularly serious (a theft or a mischief for example), your lawyer may be able to get the prosecutor to agree to participation in this program. This program provides a young person with the opportunity to avoid further involvement with the criminal justice system, and ultimately, the hope is that if your child participates successfully in the program the charges will be withdrawn or stayed. In other words, as a result of successful participation in EJS the charges will be thrown out and your child will not face any consequences criminally for their actions. (no youth record, no youth sentence etc). EJS is run through the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club. If your child is accepted into this program he or she will meet with a case worker from the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club and based on the particular circumstances at issue the caseworker will set up goals that your child needs to accomplish. Some examples are: volunteer work, counselling/programming, or a workshop. After the completion of these goals a report will be sent to the prosecutor confirming that your child has successfully completed the program. For more information visit the "Diversion" page at www.bgcottawa.org

Unreasonable Delay for Young Offenders

The Jordan case is getting a lot of media attention. Charges are being stayed across Canada, including serious charges like murder. The Jordan presumptive ceiling for provincial court matters is 18 months. Before Jordan, courts assessed delay based on loose Morin guidelines and determined whether the presence or absence of prejudice caused by the delay (among other factors) meant that the delay was reasonable or unreasonable. Although the Morin guidelines applied to youth cases, prejudice was more significant to youths than adults so stays were ordered in cases with less delay than adult stay cases.

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.

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Youth Archives | Ottawa Criminal Law Blog