Lesson 3: Legal Rights for Youth

Activities

Pre- Activity

Have students read Handout 1: What Should You Know About the Youth Justice Act? This will provide an introduction to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

You may wish to review the following questions with youth before viewing the Street Freedoms video in Activity 1.

  1. What is a youth?
    Youth are 12 to 17 years of age inclusive.  A person is considered an adult at the age of 18. 
     
  2. Why is there a special law for youth?
    The Canadian justice system recognizes that youth crime and adult crime need to be dealt with differently. Maturity is a factor in making choices and being able to foresee the probable consequences of your actions.

Activity 1: Street Freedoms — Video

Before students watch the video, have them answer the following pre-questions. Have participants stand up/sit down to indicate a yes/no response to the following statements.

The answers are in italics.

  1. A police officer can stop and question you when you’re walking along the street.
    When you are just walking (not driving), police officers need a reason they can explain and justify before they can stop and question you. 
  1. You must give your name and address when police ask for it.
    You are not obliged by law to give your name and address if you are just walking (it’s different if you are driving).  However, it’s a good idea to be courteous and give your name, age and address. Use your common sense.  When in doubt, err on the side of caution.
  1. You must give your age when police ask for it.
    You are not required to give your age but it is in your best interests to do so.  It lets police know you must be treated as a youth by law.  If you are under age 12, you must be treated as a child.
  1. You will get arrested if you do not answer police questions.
    Some young people are concerned that police officers may arrest them if they don't answer their questions, or if they don’t answer them in a particular way.  This is not the case. Police have the right to arrest anyone they suspect was engaged in a crime - regardless of what answers are given. One way or another, it is best to remain silent. 

Introduce the scenario as described in the content section and ask students to look for the following when watching the video:

  • What advice does K9 have for a youth in Sav’s situation? (Note as many pieces of advice as you can.)
     
  • Name at least two things that K9 does in this scenario that are illegal.
    He jumps off buildings; he steals the policeman’s handcuffs; he is not wearing a helmet.

Watch the Street Freedoms video. After viewing the video, fill in the following chart with your students.

Reasons Why a Police Officer Might Stop you                     

Just making conversation Detaining you

Police officers could be investigating an incident you saw or know about. They might simply be friendly.

You can ask: “Am I free to go?” If the answer is yes, you can leave.

 

You can ask: “Am I free to go?” If the answer is no, you are being detained.

If you are being detained, you are not free to go until the police say so.

You have the right to be told why you are being detained.

Remember the reason the police officer gives you, if he or she gives you one.

Get the badge number or name of the police officer so that you will have it if you want to make a complaint.

Discuss the following:

  1. If stopped by police what would you advise a youth to do?
    If questioned by a police officer you should be courteous and give your name, age and address.  You do not have to answer any other questions.  (You are not legally obliged to give your name/age/address unless you are driving, or are under arrest but it is a good idea to be courteous.)
    After you have given your name/age/address, say, “I want to remain silent.” The right not to make a statement to police until you have had an opportunity to get legal advice is a right of everyone in Canada.

     
  2. Why is it in your best interest to be courteous?
     
  3. Why may it not be in your best interests to give the police officers all the information they ask for?

Give students a copy of Handout 2: Legal Rights for Youth.  It contains other information from the other activities as well.

Activity 2: The Stuff Your Mom Warned You About - Video

Before students watch the video, have students answer the following pre-questions. Have participants stand up/sit down to indicate a yes/no response to the following statements.

If a police officer arrests you:

  1. You can ask if you are under arrest.
    Yes. Often police will tell you if you are being arrested. If they do not say anything about arrest, you can ask if you are under arrest. It is important to know if you are being arrested because resisting arrest can result in criminal charges. Police officers must give you a reason for the arrest.
  1. You must give your name and address.
    Yes. If arrested, you must give your name and address.
  1. You must state your age.
    You are not required to give your age but it is in your best interests to do so.  It tells police that you must be treated as a youth.  The youth justice legislation does not apply if you are under age 12.
  1. You have to answer all the questions the police ask you.
    No. You are not required to tell the police anything other than to identify yourself.  This gives you a chance to talk to a lawyer and a parent or other adult before you talk to the police.  Anything that you say to the police may be used against you in court. 

Introduce the scenario as described in the content section and ask students to look for the following when watching the video:

  • Does Mimi have to give police her name and address?
  • What do the police have to tell Mimi?
  • What should Mimi do as soon as possible?

After students have watched the video, fill in the following chart with them.                                  

Police detain you   Police arrest you

If you ask, “Am I free to go?” and the police officer says “no”, you have the right to be told why you are being detained. Remember the reason the police officer gives you, if he or she gives you one.

Get the badge number or name of the police officer so that you will have it if you want to make a complaint.

If you are being detained but you are not under arrest, you aren’t driving, and you haven’t broken any laws, you don’t have to give the police officer your name. But it’s a good idea to tell the police your name, address, and age to show you are cooperative. Use your common sense.

You do not have to answer any further questions. You can say: “I want to remain silent.”

You will know if you are under arrest because a police officer has said “you are under arrest”, or has somehow indicated you are not free to go by physically holding you.

If you are under arrest, and the police ask, you must tell them your name and address.

The police must tell you why you are being arrested unless the reason is obvious — remember what they say so you can tell your lawyer.

You do not have to answer any further questions. You can say: “I want to remain silent.”

Use Handout 2: Legal Rights for Youth and explain that youth who are arrested have the following rights that the police should explain, and make the point that the right to get advice from a lawyer is called the “right to retain and instruct counsel.”

  • You have the right to talk to a lawyer before you say anything to police (other than giving your name, address and age)
  • You have the right to talk to your parents or guardian before you make any statements to police
  • You have the right to have a lawyer and your parent(s) or another adult with you if the police question you

Make the point that anything you say to police is information they can use in court.  “Giving a statement” means answering any questions or saying anything to the police about what happened.

Ask students to play the role of K9 and give Mimi some pointers about what she should do. The following points should be covered:

  • Phone a lawyer. If you don’t have a number for a lawyer, ask police for a “duty counsel” number. Duty counsel is a lawyer who will give you free legal advice.
  • Do not talk to police before you get advice from a lawyer
  • Do not talk to police without a lawyer present with you in person

Have students answer this question: When a youth is arrested, why is it important that the police explain the youth’s rights in a clear, plain way?
If you do not know you have a right, you are not able to exercise it.  Police cannot assume that youth know the meaning of words such as “retain and instruct.” Police must use ordinary language that youth understand.

Note: It is important to explain rights to a youth in language that is appropriate to the youth’s age and understanding.  (See the case study under “Extension Activities.”)

Activity 3: Your Rights in a Car — Video

Before students watch the video, have students answer the following pre-questions. Have participants stand up/sit down to indicate a yes/no response to the following statements.

  1. When a police officer stops you when you’re driving, you must give the officer your name and address.
    Yes.  When you are driving you must give the police officer your name and address.  Also, you must show the police officer your driver’s licence, car registration, and insurance. 
  1. If you are a passenger in a car, you must give your name and address when a police officer stops the vehicle.
    If a passenger is not under arrest and is not the driver, that passenger is not required by law to give his/her name and address.

But if the police find drugs in the car, the passenger has to give his/her name and address because he/she may be a witness to or a suspect in a crime.

  1. Police can search your car when they stop you.
    Normally when police stop you, they have the authority to ask questions related to driving and possible driving offences only. They can search your car when they have reason (reasonable and probable grounds) to believe you:
  • are carrying illegal drugs or a weapon
  • you have liquor in your possession and you are under the legal drinking age
  • have committed an offence, like drunk or dangerous driving 

Police may search your car if they see something in plain view that gives them reason to think you may have committed a criminal offence such as drunk or dangerous driving. However, the police cannot normally search the trunk of a car against the driver’s wishes unless they have a valid search warrant, or if the driver agrees to the search.

Introduce the scenario as described in the content section and ask students to look for the following when watching the video:

  • If police stop you, what’s the difference between being the driver of a car and a passenger in a car, in terms of rights and responsibilities?
  • If police stop you, what may happen if (a) they suspect you may have drugs or have committed some other criminal offence; and (b) they don’t suspect you have drugs or have committed some other criminal offence?

 After students have watched the video, fill in the following chart with them.

Evidence a crime has
been committed
No evidence of crime

A driver of a car must give the police officer his/her name and address.  Also, the driver must show the police officer his/her driver’s licence, car registration, and insurance. 

A passenger in a car must give his/her name and address as he/she may be a witness to or suspect in a crime. 

A driver of a car must give the police officer his/her name and address.  Also, the driver must show the police officer his/her driver’s licence, car registration, and insurance. 

A passenger in a car does not have to give his/her name and address if the car is stopped for a driving matter, unless the passenger is involved in a seatbelt violation.

Conduct a role-play based on the following fact pattern: A youth is stopped by a police officer while driving. Have youth play (a) the police officer; (b) the youth who is driving, and (c) the youth who is a passenger.

Do a role-play in which the police officer sees drugs in plain view on the back seat.

Then do a role-play in which there are no drugs or alcohol in the car, and police do not have any reason to suspect the youth have been involved in a crime or are witnesses to a crime.

Review rights in a car on Handout 2: Legal Rights for Youth.