Detail About the Young Offenders Act

The Young Offenders Act Parents' Page

Sentencing Under the Young Offenders Act

The Great Young Offenders Act Debate


What is the "Youth Criminal Justice Act"?


Youth Criminal Justice Act Blog

A Young Person in Canada who is accused of a criminal offence faces serious consequences for the rest of his or her life. Please do not assume that a juvenile will be treated lightly by the police. Unfortunately many people in Canada consider that a "young offender" should be presumed guilty.

Canadians brought to criminal court are generally charged with offences under the Criminal Code of Canada or the 


Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The substantive law is the criminal law of Canada. The Youth Criminal Justice Act (the YCJA) describes some of the criminal procedure to be followed.

Children (ages 0 to 11) are dealt with in Ontario under the Child and Family Services Act. Young persons (ages 12 to 17 inclusive) face the same criminal offences as adults. Although they are dealt with procedurally under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, their guilt or innocence is determined in a manner similar to adults. Young persons and their parents should not assume that they will be treated any less harshly than adults. Young persons often are more likely to go to jail than adults. There is no system of intermittent sentence for young persons in Ontario. Parents must often travel long distances to visit their children in custody. Adults generally only serve a portion of their sentence because of parole and remission of sentence. Young persons serve their entire sentence unless the original Youth Justice Court varies the length of time in custody. Please visit my research database of sentencing dispositions at Brampton, Ontario Family Court for adolescents ages 12 to 15.

If you are stopped by police or are invited or brought to a police station you should be aware that the police will probably want to ask you questions. They may ask you to sign a waiver of your right to consult with your parents or your lawyer or both. You have the right to consult either or both. You may consult on the telephone or in person or both. You may ask questions and get advice from a lawyer before and during any interrogation. You may ask that your parents and/or your lawyer be present during questioning. You may politely decline to answer any questions at all. A Waiver is an important legal document that SHOULD NOT be signed by a young person without detailed legal advice.

Phone me at 905-273-3322 for free emergency legal advice either before going to the police station or at the police station. If you can't reach me, ask the police for the toll free number 1-800-265-0451 or dial 416-868-0720 for 24 hour duty counsel. Advice from duty counsel is free and easy to obtain for persons in police custody. Telephone duty counsel is not available to parents or relatives. Research shows that, unfortunately, young persons tend to waive (give up) their rights to consult parents and lawyers all too easily. Parents are welcome to phone me while their child is at the station or after they return home from the police detachment.

Before you go to Court for the first time you should consult a lawyer. At Court you may be encouraged to enter into a guilty plea or diversion programme that has life long repercussions. Consult a lawyer in a lawyer's office before you agree to a guilty plea or diversion.

Further information on the Youth Criminal Justice Act (previously Young OffendersAct)


List of Young Offenders Debates



Copyright 2018 Stephen Biss



Stephen R. Biss, Barrister & Solicitor

470 Hensall Circle, Suite 303
Mississauga, Ontario
L5A 3V4

905-273-3322  or 1-877-273-3322


Advertisement. Any legal opinions expressed at this site relate to the Province of Ontario, Canada only. If you reside or carry on business in any other jurisdiction please consult a lawyer, solicitor, or attorney in your own jurisdiction. WARNING: All information contained herein is provided for the purpose of providing basic information only and should not be construed as formal legal advice. The author disclaims any and all liability resulting from reliance upon such information. You are strongly encouraged to seek and retain professional legal advice before relying upon any of the information contained herein.