How does sentencing work in youth criminal court?

1. Understand the possible youth sentences

Most youth sentences don’t include because jail is to be used as a last resort.

The Crown will ask for a jail where the is serious, violent, or where the young person has a history of not following non-custodial sentences.

Jail sentences can be served in deferred or open or closed custody. In all youth cases where the Crown is seeking custody, the presumption is open custody. The Crown must prove why a more restrictive level of custody is necessary.

Deferred custody sentences are for a maximum of six months. It’s not available for offences where a young person caused or attempted to cause serious harm. Deferred custody is a sentence served in the community. It often has terms like or . If you don’t follow these terms, you may have to serve the remainder of your sentence in custody.

Open custody are like group homes. If you’re in open custody, you must stay in the group home unless you have permission to leave.

Secure custody is where young offenders are separated from the community. There may be security measures, like fencing.

If there is a realistic possibility your sentence will include custody, you will likely get a legal aid certificate for a free lawyer, if you haven’t hired your own. Your lawyer will discuss possible custody sentences with you.

Sentences that do not include custody

The following youth sentences don’t include custody:

  • Reprimand: the judge lectures or warns you about your actions.
  • Absolute discharge: the judge gives you no punishment.
  • Conditional discharge: you must follow specific rules for a certain amount of time, which could last up to 2 years. If you don’t follow the rules the judge could change your sentence.
  • Fine: the maximum fine for youth is $1,000.
  • Restitution or compensation: you return or replace property you took or damaged, or you pay the victim for the harm or financial loss you caused.
  • Personal service or community service: you do work to help the victim or to help the community. The maximum is 240 hours of work over a year.
  • Prohibition: you’re not allowed to have something in your possession. This usually refers to weapons.
  • Probation: you must follow certain rules and report to a officer. Probation can be a maximum of 2 or 3 years depending on how many offences you committed.
  • Supervision or attendance program: you attend a program to help you change your behaviour. The judge must think you’re a good candidate for the program.

All youth sentences include a youth record. Your youth record will be destroyed after a certain amount of time depending on your sentence. For example, it will be destroyed after:

  • 2 months if the sentence was a reprimand
  • 1 year if the sentence was an
  • 3 to 5 years for all other sentences
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