Judges apply special rules when sentencing youth. Sentences should be similar to other youth sentences in similar cases. A sentence should not be more severe than a sentence given to an adult. The judge will give a sentence that helps the youth feel responsible for their actions. Sometimes a youth’s sentence is to do community service, like volunteering in a homeless shelter. Learn more about youth sentencing.

Who will know about the youth’s crime?

When a youth is convicted of committing a crime, his or her name cannot be published. This is done to protect the youth. If the youth’s identity is not protected, he or she might find it difficult to return to his or her community. It might also affect the youth’s ability to move forward in life. So, for example, if there is a report in the paper about the crime, the youth will be referred to only by the initials of his or her name (like K.M.).

If the youth has committed a very serious crime (like murder), he or she might be treated as an adult in court. In this case, the youth’s name can be published.

Will the youth go to jail?

Usually, a youth will only be sent to jail if he or she has committed a violent offence and is a serious repeat offender (the youth has committed the same or similar offence before).

A judge will think about many things before sending a youth to jail. All other options must be reviewed first. A youth cannot be sent to jail unless:

  • He or she committed a violent crime
  • The crime, if committed by an adult, could result in a sentence over 2 years, and the youth has developed a pattern of committing offences
  • The youth did not obey other sentences that he or she served in the community
  • In exceptional cases where the youth has committed a serious offence and the judge thinks that for whatever reason a jail sentence is necessary to rehabilitate the youth or protect the public

A judge must always give a reason for sending a youth to jail. In most cases, a youth will spend two-thirds of his or her sentence in jail, and the rest in the community.

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