How are adult court and youth court different?

2. Understand the differences inside the courtroom

Most things that happen in a youth courtroom are the same as adult court. Often youth courtrooms are even in the same building as adult courtrooms. But there are important differences.

Some of the differences in youth courtrooms are:

  • Parents or a supportive adult are often involved.
  • Young people have the right to a free lawyer in certain situations, including hearings, trials, and reviews.
  • There are special privacy rules about your identity in court, who can access your youth record, and whether the information in your youth record can be shared.
  • Jail is used as a last resort.

Parents in court

If you're charged with a crime, the police must give your parent or an adult responsible for you a notice explaining your charges and your next court date. If your parent or responsible adult doesn't come to court the judge or justice of the peace may give a formal order for them to come to your next court date.

Your parent or responsible adult will usually get copies of any reports prepared during your case, including:

  • medical reports
  • psychological reports
  • pre-sentence reports

Before you're sentenced, the judge must give your parent or responsible adult a chance to tell the judge what they think about your sentencing.

Free lawyers

If you can't get a lawyer on your own, you can ask the judge to order Legal Aid Ontario to give you a lawyer. This is called a Section 25 order. In certain situations, including at a or at a , the law says that a judge must make a Section 25 order if you want a lawyer but can't get one on your own. Once you ask the judge for a lawyer, they must consider your request. The judge usually gives you their decision right away.

Privacy in the courtroom

In most youth cases the courtroom is open to the public. Anyone can come into a youth courtroom and watch. But unlike adult courtrooms, the information about who is in a youth courtroom is confidential.

It is illegal for anyone to tell members of the general public anything that could identify you as a person involved in youth court, including your name. This includes posts or comments in the newspaper or on radio, tv, online, and social media.

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