Sentencing Young Offenders
- 1 General Principles
- 2 Protection of Identity
- 3 Procedure
- 4 Extrajudicial Measures
- 5 Principles and Purpose of Sentencing
- 6 Factors of Sentencing
- 7 Available Dispositions
- 8 Remand Credit
- 9 Adult Sentences
- 10 Ancillary Orders
- 11 Specific Offences
- 12 Review of Sentences
- 13 Sentencing Digests
- 14 See Also
The YCJA creates a separate legal system for youths. The reason for this is that young people are particularly vulnerable, less mature, and have a reduced capacity for moral judgment. Accordingly, they are presumed to have a diminished moral blameworthiness and culpability. Part IV of the YCJA (s. 41 to 82) addresses sentencing of young offenders.
Relationship with the Criminal Code
The relationship of the YCJA and the Criminal Code is addressed in ss. 140 to 142. The Criminal Code applies equally "except to the extent that it is inconsistent with or excluded by this Act" (s. 140).
Part XXVII of the Code regarding procedure for summary conviction offences applies to prosecutions under the YCJA except where inconsistent with the YCJA. Indictable offences are to be prosecuted under the procedure of indictable offences.
The consequence of this is that the sentencing options are significantly different from the adult options of sentence as the YCJA explicitly outlines the available sentences for all young offenders.
Purpose and Principles of the YCJA
From 1908 to 1984 youth sentencing was governed by the Juvenile Delinquents Act. This Act was replaced by Young Offenders Act in 1984 and remained in force until 2003. Finally, in 2003 the Youth Criminal Justice Act was brought into force.
Protection of Identity
Under s. 110 and 129 of the YCJA, any information that would identify an offender cannot be published or released to the public at any time. Likewise, under s. 111 and 129, any information that would identify a victim or witness who is a young person cannot be published or released to the public at any time.
If either s. 110 or 111 is violated, the offending person may be liable under s. 138 either on summary conviction or for an indictable offence with a maximum penalty of two years in prison.
Where a young person pleads guilty, the judge must be satisfied under s. 36(1) that "the facts support the charge" before the judge can find the accused guilty.
Where the facts do not support the charge, then under s. 36(2), the judge must set the matter down for trial.
Youth Pre-Sentence Report
Principles and Purpose of Sentencing
Factors of Sentencing
A young offender should be given 1.5:1 credit for remand time. However, the ultimate decision on treating pre-sentence custody is discretionary, and can give no credit if appropriate in the circumstances.
Section 38(3)(d) of the YCJA states that "In determining a youth sentence, the youth justice court shall take into account ... the time spent in detention as a result of the offence”. This requires that the judge reduce the potential maximum sentence by at least the number of actual days spent on remand.
It is worth noting that the language of the provisions relating to SOIRA indicates that it does not apply to young offenders. DNA orders however do apply in the same way that it does to adults.
Imprisonment for Life
Persons under eighteen
745.1 The sentence to be pronounced against a person who was under the age of eighteen at the time of the commission of the offence for which the person was convicted of first degree murder or second degree murder and who is to be sentenced to imprisonment for life shall be that the person be sentenced to imprisonment for life without eligibility for parole until the person has served
- (a) such period between five and seven years of the sentence as is specified by the judge presiding at the trial, or if no period is specified by the judge presiding at the trial, five years, in the case of a person who was under the age of sixteen at the time of the commission of the offence;
- (b) ten years, in the case of a person convicted of first degree murder who was sixteen or seventeen years of age at the time of the commission of the offence; and
- (c) seven years, in the case of a person convicted of second degree murder who was sixteen or seventeen years of age at the time of the commission of the offence.
1995, c. 22, ss. 6, 21.
Review of Sentences
A non-custody sentence can be reviewed after 6 months or earlier is granted leave by the court. (s. 59(1))
A custody sentence can be reviewed after 1 year.(s. 94)