The Youth Criminal Justice Act (“YCJA”) says it is better to deal with less serious offenses outside the court system. This is often the most appropriate and effective way to address non-violent youth crime.
EXTRAJUDICIAL MEASURES: are designed to hold young people responsible for wrongful behaviour without formally charging a youth with a criminal offence. The police can give warnings (informally), cautions (usually a letter sent to you and your parents and may require you and your parents to go into the police station to speak with an officer), or referrals to a community program. The crown attorney can also give a caution instead of a charge, or withdraw a charge and give a caution instead.
EXTRAJUDICIAL SANCTIONS: may be given by a Crown attorney before or after a young person has been charged with a criminal offence, as a way of dealing with the offending behaviour without proceeding further through the formal court system. They may be used only if a warning, caution or referral is not enough to hold the young person responsible. The Crown can request an extrajudicial sanction and a referral to an extrajudicial sanction programs before or after the young person has been charged. If you are accepted into the program, you will be required to complete the program. This means you will get some consequences for your actions, but you will not go through the court system and be punished by a Judge.
You can get an extrajudicial sanction only if:
- there is such a program where you live;
- the police or the crown attorney thinks that the program is the right thing for you and for the interests of the community;
- you are told all about the program and you freely agree to participate;
- you have been given a chance to consult with a lawyer;
- you are willing to accept responsibility for what the police say you have done wrong; and
- there is a real case against you, and you could otherwise be brought to trial through the court system
There are a number of different options for an extrajudicial sanction program, some examples include: You may be asked to do some kind of community service, participate in a conference, write an essay or letter of apology, go to workshops, do a mediation, or perhaps do something else that would be relevant to you or the offence.
When you successfully complete the program, then any charge that has been laid against you will be dismissed and you will not have to return to court on this matter. Additionally, a record of your participation in the program will stay in the records of your local police for only 2 years. You will not get a youth justice court record.
This blog post was written by Lauren Grossman, a first year law student at the University of Toronto who volunteered at JFCY through her law school’s Pro Bono Students Canada program in 2012/13. All legal content was reviewed by a JFCY lawyer. JFCY's legal content is based on the laws in Ontario relevant to youth under the age of 18.