Youth Offences in Victoria
If you have commit a crime and are between the ages of 12 and 17, the prosecution of your offence will be conducted under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). Even though a different act governs the prosecution of youths, all of the crimes specified by the Criminal Code of Canada are applicable to young offenders. In other words, you can be arrested and charged for anything from mischief to murder even though you are not an adult. The YCJA simply recognizes that young offenders should be treated differently than adults, and sets out rules and guidelines for the courts to follow when prosecuting a young person.
Unfortunately, youth offences are not a rare occurrence. Thousands of charges are laid against young people in British Columbia every year with a significant percentage of those charges resulting in a conviction.
The Investigation of Youth Offences in Victoria
If you are being investigated for a youth offence in Victoria, the police may contact you and ask you to come to the police station to provide them with a statement. It is important for you to know that you do not have to provide them with any information until you are arrested. If you are arrested, the police must read you your rights, and notify you that if you make a statement voluntarily, it can be used against you in court. You should also be provided with an opportunity to contact a lawyer and another adult before saying anything. If you are going to be held for a long period of time, the police must notify your parents or your guardian.
Bail Conditions for Youth Offences in Victoria
If you have been arrested for a youth offence in Victoria, you can either be held in custody or released with an undertaking. If you are released with an undertaking, you will have to comply with a number of conditions such as keep the peace and be of good behavior, not to possess any weapons, and to abstain from alcohol and drugs. As part of your undertaking you will also be directed to attend court to speak to your matter, and to attend the Victoria Police Headquarters located at 850 Caledonia Ave, Victoria for the purposes of fingerprinting (if your fingerprints were not taken at the time of your arrest). You must comply with all of the orders in your undertaking, as a failure to do so will result in you getting new criminal charges.
If you have been charged with an offence as a youth, your initial court appearances will typically take place in courtroom 203 in the Victoria Provincial Courthouse. This courtroom is designated specifically to hear matters related to criminal youth offences. In Victoria, Youth Court is held on alternating Tuesdays, beginning at 9:30am.
If you are not immediately released following your arrest, the police and the Crown can try to keep you in custody if they find that you will not appear in court as directed, or you pose a danger to yourself or to the community. If you are kept in custody, you will be offered a bail hearing within 24 hours. While being held in custody, the police must keep you separated from adult offenders also in custody with two exceptions:
- If you are at risk of being in physical danger if you were to be detained with other young persons, or you pose a threat or danger to other young persons.
- There is no place of detention available for you that is a reasonable distance from adult offenders.
If the Crown successfully argues for you continued detention, you will likely be held at Victoria Youth Custody Services, located at 94 Talcott Rd, Victoria, BC V8W 9J1.
The Punishment for Youth Offences in Victoria
When sentencing a young offender, it is presumed that the offender has a diminished moral blameworthiness for the crime so they should receive a lighter sentence. When determining a young offender’s punishment, the Court’s main goal is to ensure that you are held accountable for your wrongdoing, and that your sentence effectively rehabilitates you and re-integrates you into the community.
While the punishment for a young offender can be less severe, it does not mean that your sentence will not be serious. Even if you commit a crime as a youth, you can still face harsh penalties such as time spent in jail. Further, in very serious cases the Crown may be able to successfully argue that you should be sentenced as an adult. If they are successful, you could be facing a penalty as severe as an adult offender in your same circumstances. Given that a criminal conviction can have a very adverse impact on your life, it is of your utmost interest to contact one of our skilled criminal defence lawyers immediately. We will use all of our experience defending youth offences to ensure that you receive the best representation possible.
Defending Youth Offences in Victoria
At Oykhman Criminal Defence our priority is to do our best to ensure that you walk away from your charges with no criminal record. The most effective way for us to do this is by reaching a pre-trial resolution with the Crown prosecutor. One of the best resolutions to a Youth Offence is called Extrajudicial Measures or Extrajudicial Sanctions (EJM) and (EJS). These types of diversion programs will require the offender to complete certain requirements set out by a social worker or a probation officer.
If successful, the charges against you will be withdrawn. Typically, these types of programs are only offered to those charged with fairly minor offences, and those who are not repeat offenders. To find out if you would be a suitable candidate for a pretrial diversion, contact one of our criminal defence lawyers as soon as possible. We will review your case and even if we cannot divert your charges, we will work to resolve your matter in the best and most effective manner possible.