The Youth Criminal Justice Act

Who does the Act apply to?

An important law – the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) – guarantees the rights of young people in the criminal justice system. The law applies to youth between the ages of 12 and 17.  A child under the age of 12 cannot be charged with a crime. At age 18, a person is considered to be an adult in the eyes of the court and will go to trial in adult court.

What is the purpose of the Act?

The law in Canada says that it is important to think about keeping youth out of jail, especially if the offence is not serious. The law recognizes that youth are not as mature as adults. In some cases the police may give the youth a warning instead of arresting him or her. If the youth is arrested and found guilty of a criminal offence, the sentence must be fair for the crime committed.

The goal of the law is to prevent crime and help young people become responsible members of their communities. The law also wants youth involved in crime to understand the effect of their criminal acts. Protection of the public is important. Learn more about the YCJA.

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