The Youth Criminal Justice Act

The Youth Criminal Justice Act
Under English Common Law, youths aged 7-13 were not charged with criminal
offenses as they were deemed unable to understand their crimes.
• In 1908 the government passed the Juvenile Delinquents Act largely for youths
aged 12-16, however youths as young as seven could be charged.
– The idea was to reform youths, not punish them.
• These ideas were enhanced in the Young Offenders Act in 1984 and set the age of
a Young Offender at 12-17.
The YOA deemed people aged 0-11 to have no criminal responsibility, 12-17 partial
responsibility and 18+ full responsibility.
– This is still in place today.
• In 2003 the YOA was replaced by the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), which has
four objectives:
– Promote accountability, responsibility and consequences;
– Support long-term solutions for youth crime by reinforcing
respect, responsibility and accountability;
– Respect human rights for youth while protecting society;
– Making youth justice more flexible.
Extrajudicial Sanctions
• Penalties for those charged as a youth are different from adults.
• Police have the power in less serious cases to use extrajudicial sanctions to
avoid a trial:
– They can include an apology letter, essay, compensation, education,
counselling, supervision or community service.
– About 30% of youths charged are sentenced to extrajudicial sanctions.
– The catch is that a youth must confess in order to be eligible.
• During the trial reporters and the public may be let in, but the names of the accused
or underage victims usually cannot be published.
– The exception is for serious crimes like aggravated assault/sexual assault,
manslaughter and murder, but only if they are CONVICTED.
Adult Court
• The Crown must decide before the trial begins whether to request that the trial be
transferred to adult court.
– The accused must be over 14 and the crime violent or a repeat offense.
• A hearing is then held by judge alone to determine where the trial will be held.
– What might be some problems with this?
The Youth Criminal Justice Act
1. What is the first option that police must consider if they believe that a
Youth has committed an offence?
2. What happens after an extrajudicial measure is completed?
3. What happens if the police officer thinks an extrajudicial measure is not an
appropriate response – what are their options?
4. What are the steps involved from the initial police contact to receiving an
extrajudicial sanction (list them in order).
5. When a case is referred to the Crown, what three options do they have?
6. What may happen if an extrajudicial sanction is not completed?
7. Why might the Crown or a Youth Justice Committee modify a sanction that has not
been completed?
8. If the Crown decides that an extrajudicial sanction is not a sufficient response to
the offence, what are the next two steps that they may take?
9. What are the two options that youth have when making a plea?
10. If the youth pleads “not guilty” what happens to their case?
11. If the youth pleads “guilty” or is found guilty in a trial what happens to their case?
The Youth Criminal Justice Act