How does sentencing work in youth criminal court?

2. Learn about youth sentencing principles

A youth court judge must follow youth sentencing principles. Here are some of the most important principles a youth court judge must follow:

  • Your must be lower than the sentence for an adult who committed a similar crime.
  • Jail is the last option. The judge must first decide if lesser sentences are appropriate.
  • Your sentence should make you feel responsible for what you did.
  • Your sentence should help you to become a positive member of society by addressing any issues that caused you to commit the crime.
  • Your sentence must be similar to sentences for other young people who committed similar crimes in your area.
  • Your sentence can encourage you not to commit crimes again.

Important facts

It's important to tell your lawyer about any issues you've faced as a young person. Everything you tell a lawyer is confidential and can't be shared in court without your permission. You can choose both what you want to share with your lawyer and what your lawyer shares with the court.

Sharing information about your personal background might make you feel uncomfortable. But this information can help the judge give you an appropriate sentence.

If you don't have a lawyer, you should be ready to help the judge answer these types of questions:

  • Are you Indigenous?
  • Have you ever been in foster care?
  • Do you experience any learning disabilities, mental health issues, or any other challenges?
  • If you suffer from mental health issues, addictions or a disability, are you willing to work with community supports?
  • During the crime, were you a leader or a follower?
  • If the victim was injured, did you mean to hurt them?
  • Have you tried to fix the bad thing you did?
  • Did you repay the victim or repair any damage?
  • What have you done to show that you can be a positive member of society? Examples may include volunteering, community service, or joining a sports team.
  • Is there a supportive adult in your life who can help keep you on the right track?
  • What are your plans and goals for the future?
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