Michelle Johal has practiced exclusively in the area of criminal law since 2005. She has been consulted by local media outlets to provide her legal opinions.
Checkout Some FAQs About Youth Cases
YCJA – Its Purpose
The purpose of the YCJA is to rehabilitate a young person. This means that the goal is to look at the circumstances of the young person’s behaviour, understand the young person’s background, hold the young person accountable, ensure that the consequences given are relevant and meaningful to the young person, and help them reintegrate into society and evolve into a better version of themselves.
As shown from the Declaration of Principles, emphasis is placed on:
- Rehabilitation and reintegration;
- Fair and proportionate accountability;
- Enhanced procedural protection so that young persons are treated fairly and their rights are protected;
- Timely intervention; and
- Prompt enforcement of this Act.
What happens when police are called to deal with an alleged crime committed by a young person?
When a young person is alleged to have committed a crime, the police have options. They have the choice to decide whether or not to lay a charge. Other options for the police to consider include:
- Whether or not to take further action;
- If a warning would be sufficient;
- If a caution would be sufficient; or
- With your consent, if a referral to a community or program agency is appropriate.
- Lay a criminal charge, and provide you with a next court date and release you on an undertaking, or hold you for a bail hearing.
Can a young person be held in custody before a trial?
A young person can be held in custody in only if the charge they are facing is a “serious offence” or if there is a pattern of outstanding charges or findings of guilt. A “serious offence” is any indictable offence under law where the maximum sentence is 5 years or more.
If this is the case, the Crown must show a judge or justice of the peace that the young person should remain in custody based on:
- The chance that the young person will not appear for court;
- This will protect the public; and
- It is needed to ensure that the public continues to trust the court system and the principles in the Declaration.
Which court hears a youth case?
When a young person is charged with a criminal offence or if you are charged with a previously offence between the ages of 12 to 17, the youth court has exclusive jurisdiction over the proceedings. A youth court is any court that the province designates as such. Therefore, this designated court is where your case will be heard.
Rights as a Youth Charged with a Crime
When a young person is charged with an offence, there are several rights that they are entitled to. These include:
- Being told why you are being charged;
- Being told of your right to counsel when arrested or detained without delay;
- This means the police must tell you that you have the right to speak to a lawyer
- Getting a lawyer yourself, and not through a parent or guardian
- Before giving a statement, you must be told that:
- There is no requirement to give a statement,
- The statement can be used against you,
- You have the right to speak to a lawyer, parent or other older relative, and
- The statement must be made in the presence of a lawyer or any other adult you spoke to.
- Having your parents informed of the process/charge by sending a “Notice to Parent”
What is EJS?
When a young person is charged with an offence, there is a possibility that they will be held responsible for their actions without going through the formal court process. This is done by using Extrajudicial Measures/Sanctions. These are available for minor criminal charges. Whether or not this is an option for you will depend on the police and Crown attorney.
Sentencing as a Young Person
The YCJA guides judges when it comes to sentencing. It includes guidelines about appropriate sentences. The required minimum sentences that are in the Criminal Code of Canada and the Controlled Drug and Substances Act do not apply to youth sentences.
The goal is to hold you accountable by giving sentences that match the seriousness of the crime and that are meaningful. Other factors that the court may consider are:
- Your role in the offence;
- How much you participated in the offence;
- The harm the victim(s) suffered;
- Any amendments made to the community;
- Any previous findings of guilt; and
- Any time sent in detention before trial.
What happens to your record at the age of 18?
A common question that is asked is what happens when a young person turns 18. As long as you do not commit more offences once you turn 18, your file is “closed”. When your file closes depends on the seriousness of the offence and if the Crown proceeded by summary conviction or by indictment.
If you commit a further crime after the age of 18 and your file has not been closed, then it can be transformed into an adult record. This would mean that the rules that apply to any other adult criminal record apply to yours.
How Can Our Office Assist You?
Due to the special processes of a youth case, hiring a lawyer with experience and knowledge is the best course of action. We can help to explain what the processes are, what the sentencing options are, what it means to fight the charges in a trial, plead guilty, enter a peace bond or accept any other offers from the Crown. It is important that you speak to an experienced lawyer before accepting any offers.
Before making any final decision, please call our office at 416 824 3584 and speak to us for a free consultation before making a decision.
The following represents only a sample of cases that were scheduled for trial. These do not include favourable resolutions that were negotiated with the Crown before a trial date was scheduled.
O.A. was charged with Possession of Cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and simple possession of Cocaine. Mr. O. and his co-accused had an encounter with the police in the parking lot of a community centre in Brampton. Mr. O.A. vehicle was searched by the police without a warrant and approximately 100 grams of cocaine was located. Counsel Michelle Johal applied to exclude the evidence on the grounds that the evidence was obtained in breach of his rights under Section 8, 9 and 10 of the Charter. Justice Molloy concluded that the search of the vehicle violated the Section 8 and 9 rights of the accused and excluded the evidence pursuant to s.24(2) of the Charter. The charges against Mr. O.A. were dismissed.
R. V. T.V.
T.V. was charged with produce marihuana, possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of proceeds. After a month long trial, the Judge found that the evidence failed to show that the accused committed the offence of production of marijuana at two residences either by her direct actions or by aiding and abetting. The judge also found that in the absence of proof beyond reasonable doubt of knowledge of any criminal source of the funds from unnamed sources, resulting in the purchase of the named properties in possession of the accused, or any linkage of those funds or properties beyond reasonable doubt to criminal conduct, that the proceeds charges should also be dismissed. All charges against the client were dismissed.
R. V. J.S.
J.S. was charged with production of marihuana. The police located a grow operation in the basement of her residence. The Crown initially took a position of 9 months jail as a result of the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences. The charge of production of marihuana was ultimately withdrawn by the crown.
R. V. H.S.
H.S. was charged with trafficking marihuana and possession of proceeds. York Region Police officers arrested him in his vehicle in the parking lot of a busy retail establishment. After successful resolution discussions with the Crown, the criminal charge against him was withdrawn.
R. V. O.A.
Client and his co-defendants were charged with trafficking in a large amount of cocaine. Following a trial in the Superior Court of Justice the charges were stayed because the police violated the client’s Charter right to be free unreasonable search and seizure due to the warrantless search of his van.
Discuss Your Case In Confidence
Our Brampton office is conveniently located beside the Criminal/Family Courthouse at 7755 Hurontario Street West, Brampton, Ontario. It is steps from the Peel Regional Police station where clients have to attend for fingerprinting.
Our Office is located on County Court Blvd across from the Tim Hortons in County Court Law Chambers.
The address is:
602-201 County Court Blvd
Brampton, ON L6W 4L2
We will respond to your inquiry within 24 hours.