How are adult court and youth court different?

5. Understand the differences for trials

There are two different ways that trials are managed in Canada.

Trials for indictable offences are complicated. These trials are only for more serious charges. If an adult has an indictable , they can ask for a . At a preliminary inquiry, the judge decides if there is enough to move ahead to a full .

Trials for summary conviction charges are simpler and quicker. These trials are for less serious charges. There are no preliminary inquiries, even for adults.

For most youth cases, the trial will be managed under the simpler summary conviction process. There will not be a preliminary inquiry. This is true even for most serious indictable offences. The only exceptions are youth cases where:

  • you’re charged with murder, or
  • the Crown asks the judge to give you an adult , which is very rare.

If you’re charged with murder or the Crown prosecutor wants an adult sentence, your trial might be managed under the more complex process. In this situation, you would usually have your own lawyer. You and your lawyer can talk about whether you should ask for a preliminary inquiry or not. You can also talk to your lawyer about whether you should ask for a trial with a jury or a trial with just a judge.

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