I’m under 18 and charged with a crime. What are my rights?

1. Know your rights when dealing with the police

When you're dealing with the police, you have all of the same rights as an adult, including the:

  • Right to silence: In most situations you don't have to answer questions from the police.
  • Right not to be unfairly: The police can't stop or hold you unless they have a good reason to think you were involved in a crime or they are investigating a crime.
  • Right to know why the police are detaining or arresting you: The police must tell you right away why they are stopping or arresting you. You have the right to know what your charges are.
  • Right not to be searched unreasonably: The police can only search you in certain situations. And the way that they search you must be reasonable.
  • Right to speak to a lawyer: The police must help you contact a free lawyer if you're stopped, questioned, or . And, they must let you speak to that lawyer in private.

Special youth rights

If the police want to speak to you, you also have some special youth rights that the police must tell you about. This includes the right to:

  • talk to your parent or a supportive adult before the police ask you any questions
  • have your lawyer and your parent or a supportive adult in the room with you while the police ask you questions

It is not true that you only get one phone call to try to reach a lawyer. You can make as many phone calls as you need to reach a lawyer and get legal advice. There is no limit. The same thing applies for phone calls to your parents or a supportive adult.

Extrajudicial measures

Extrajudicial measures (EJMs) are ways the police can deal with the allegations against you without charging you. Examples of EJMs include police warnings or a referral to a special program like anger management courses or counselling for drug abuse.

The police must think about EJM before they you, especially if the allegations involve a non-violent and you have not been found guilty of any prior offence. It may still be used even if you have been offered EJM in the past or have been found guilty of an offence.

If you talk to the police about the possibility of an EJM, nothing you say in that conversation can be used against you in court. It is a legally protected conversation.

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