Youth Defense Lawyer In Toronto
The defence of criminal charges against youth is a specialized area of knowledge. While the Criminal Code still governs youth in terms of defining criminal behaviour, procedurally youth are governed by a completely different set of rules under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (“YCJA”).
Lawyers who successfully defend youth must have extensive knowledge of both the Criminal Code as well as the YCJA. The primary goal of the YCJA is to ensure that young persons understand the nature and consequences of their actions. That being said, the focus of the YCJA is rehabilitation rather than punishment. While serious crimes will still attract jail sentences under the YCJA scheme, many offences which would result in custody for an adult result in lesser punishment such as probation for a youth.
This does not mean however, that the defence of youth court charges is any less serious or important than the defence of adult charges. A finding of guilt as a youth attaches the stigma of criminalization early in a young person’s life. A common misconception is that a youth court record automatically seals after a young person turns 18, and that thereafter it is not accessible by authorities. This is not so. The YCJA provides for statutory periods in which the record is still accessible, and if a further criminal conviction is obtained during this holdover period, the record will never seal (if the offender has already turned 18 at the time of the new conviction) or will be delayed in being sealed (if the offender has not yet turned 18).
If your child has been charged, it is imperative that you contact an experienced youth court lawyer such as Graham Zoppi. He can walk you through the process, minimize the amount of school that your child misses during the ongoing court proceedings, and fight to avoid your child starting out his or her life dragged down by the weight of a criminal record.