About the Youth Justice Court

The Youth Justice Court (a division of Provincial Court) is for criminal cases for young people under the age of 18 when the alleged crime happened. A judge listens to the evidence and decides if the youth is guilty or not guilty. If guilty, the judge also decides on a sentence.

What happens in court?

All Youth Justice Court cases are scheduled for a morning or afternoon hearing. The youth who has been charged with committing an offence waits until it is time for his or her case to be heard.

When the youth’s case is heard by the judge, the judge may ask the youth’s parents to give the youth’s age and date of birth. The lawyer can give this information if the youth’s parents are not in the courtroom. The charges against the youth are read out loud.

Pleading guilty

If the youth pleads “guilty”, the judge will decide on a sentence (punishment) and there will be no trial. Before deciding on the right sentence, the judge will ask for more information about the youth. This information can come from the youth’s parents, his or her probation officer, or other people who know the youth.

Pleading not guilty

If the youth pleads “not guilty”, the court will set a trial date. At the trial, the Crown prosecutor will ask witnesses to say what they know about the crime. The youth’s lawyer will also ask these witnesses questions. The youth’s lawyer might ask the youth or other witnesses to give evidence (say what happened). The Crown prosecutor will ask questions.

At the end of the trial, the judge will decide if the youth is guilty or not guilty. If the youth is not guilty, he or she is free to go. If the judge decides the youth is guilty, the judge will decide on a sentence (punishment).

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