Lesson 3: Legal Rights for Youth

Activities 3

Activity 6: Don’t Look in My Locker — 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. At school, a teacher or principal can search you and your locker.
    Yes. In schools, teachers, principals and other members of the school administration can search you without your consent. This is because while you are in school they are responsible for your safety and wellbeing (the law says that they “stand in the place of the parent” — in loco parentis).

    School officials who find drugs or other illegal items can seize them and turn them over to the police.  In one case the courts said it was okay when a principal did the search in the presence of police, found drugs on the student, handed them over to the police officer, and the student was charged with narcotics possession.

    Some schools rent lockers to students on an annual basis; other schools rent locks for the lockers only.  Either way, the school owns the lockers which means they can be searched..  However, there must be reasonable grounds for a search.  It has to be a reason based on some kind of reliable proof of wrongdoing.  It can’t just be that the teacher doesn’t like you.

  1. At school, a police officer can search you and your locker.
    Police officers on school premises have the same responsibilities that they have in other places.Police can only search you and your belongings in one of three situations:
  • During a lawful arrest
  • If they think you have a weapon
  • If the police have a legally valid search warrant
  1. There are different rules for police and for school officials.
    When it comes to searches, the rules for police and school officials are a bit different. Police can search only if they are arresting you, or they have a search warrant, or with your consent. However, school officials can search you without your consent because they are responsible for your safety and well-being. School officials can search lockers because they are school property. However, they must have good reason to do so.

Conduct the exercise again at the end of the session.

Introduce the scenario as described in the content section and ask students to look for the following when watching the video: What are Yuri’s rights?  

After they have watched the video, fill in the following chart with them.  Have students speak for and against the statement, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, why should you care about searches?” The following chart has some points to cover as to why students should care. 

Why you should not care       Why you should care

 

Being protected from unreasonable search or seizure is one of our Charter rights as Canadians.

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms says: Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

Being free means having personal privacy. There would have to be a very good reason for taking any of our freedoms away. 

Comparison of Rights and Responsibilities

If you have completed watching all four videos, you may wish to revisit the chart that compares rights and responsibilities. Add an extra column for “Student.”

There are different situations in which youth may be stopped by police:

  • Pedestrian
  • Driver
  • Passenger
  • Student

In each situation, youth have different rights and responsibilities. Ask youth to identify what their responsibilities and rights are. Explain that these are rights everyone in Canada has, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  Responsibilities Rights

Pedestrian

   

Passenger

 

 

Driver

 

 

Student

 

 

Suggested Answers for this activity are outlined below.

  Responsibilities Rights

Pedestrian

Obey municipal, provincial and federal laws.

Examples of law-breaking:

  • Jaywalking
  • Public drunkenness

If you are stopped or detained, you should provide your name and address in order to be polite and cooperative

If you are under arrest, you must provide your name and address.

To be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

Not to be arbitrarily detained.

To know the reason for being detained.

To obtain and instruct counsel if detained or arrested.

Passenger

Obey municipal, provincial and federal laws.

Example: wear a seatbelt

If under arrest, you must provide your name and address.

To be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

Not to be arbitrarily detained.

To know the reason for being detained.

To obtain and instruct counsel if detained or arrested.

Driver

Obey municipal, provincial and federal laws.

You must carry your driver’s licence and show it when a police officer asks to see it. It has your name, address, and age.

You must carry insurance and registration in the car and produce it upon request

Drive a vehicle that is safe.

To be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

Not to be arbitrarily detained.

To know the reason for being detained.

To obtain and instruct counsel if detained or arrested.

Student

Obey municipal, provincial and federal laws,

Obey school rules and code of conduct

Understand that school officials are allowed to search you and your belongings if they have reasonable grounds to believe you’ve done something illegal.

Understand that police can search only if they are arresting you, or they have a search warrant, or your consent.

To be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

Not to be arbitrarily detained.

To know the reason for being detained.

To obtain and instruct counsel if detained or arrested.

Review rights regarding searches on Handout 2: Legal Rights for Youth.

Activity 7: Special Consideration in Sentencing – 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.

When an Aboriginal youth has been found guilty of a crime:

  1. A judge should consider the Aboriginal youth’s needs when deciding upon the sentence.
    Yes. The Canadian criminal justice system recognizes that in the past, young Aboriginal people have not been treated fairly by the criminal justice system and that they may not have had the same advantages as other youth.

The following points may be useful in the discussion:

  • Traditionally, all Aboriginal communities had their own justice systems. The youth justice system is now looking at alternate forms of sentencing for Aboriginal youth, especially those connected to traditional Aboriginal communities. This may include things such as “sentencing circles,” and other forms of restorative justice, which are meant to heal the entire community, including the offender and victim, rather than focusing on punishing the offender.
     
  • Comments from the Supreme Court of Canada, in R. v. Gladue [1999] 1 S.C.R. 688:

The drastic over-representation of Aboriginal people within both the Canadian prison population and the criminal justice system reveals a sad and pressing social problem.

The unbalanced ratio of imprisonment for Aboriginal offenders flow from a number of sources, including poverty, substance abuse, lack of education, and the lack of employment opportunities for Aboriginal people. It arises also from bias against Aboriginal people and from an unfortunate institutional approach that is more inclined to refuse bail and to impose more and longer prison terms for Aboriginal offenders.

  • Aboriginal youth may face many challenges, including economic ones. Canada-wide in 2001, Aboriginal youth had a poverty rate of 37% compared to 19% for non-Aboriginal youth. (Canadian Council on Social Development, 2006)
     
  • Aboriginal youth continue to be overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Despite the substantial reductions in the number of Aboriginal youth in custody since 2000, Aboriginal youth continue to experience an appreciably higher incarceration rate compared to non-Aboriginal youth. While the incarceration rate for non-Aboriginal youth was 8.2 per 10,000 population, the incarceration rate for Aboriginal youth was 64.5 per 10,000 population. (Department of Justice)
  1. A judge should use custody (jail) only if there are no other choices.Yes. One of the principles of the youth justice system is to reserve the use of custody for primarily violent offenders and serious repeat offenders and to use alternatives to custody where they are determined adequate to hold the young person accountable for non-violent offences.

Introduce the scenario as described in the content section and ask students to look for the following when watching the video: What steps does the justice system take to recognize that Aboriginal youth face unique challenges?

Have students watch the Special Considerations in Sentencing video. Afterwards, facilitate a group discussion. Ask students to express their opinions on whether Aboriginal youth need special consideration in the youth justice system. You may wish to use the information provided in the Facilitator Notes, under question 1.

Conduct a role-play activity, You be the judge. Ask students to volunteer to play the role.

  • As the judge, would you have given Lily this sentence? Why/why not?  Do you think this sentence will help Lily grow up and change, and be a responsible member of the community?  Why? What are the best ways for an Aboriginal youth who has offended to gain insight into the effects of his or her behaviour?
    Hold a debate on sentences served in custody versus sentences served in the community. Ask students to give their opinion about the impact upon an Aboriginal youth going to a youth custody facility versus completing a sentence under community supervision. 
  • Make the point that the final decision about the type of sentencing is up to the judge. If youth are repeat offenders or violent offenders, the judge may decide he or she has no choice other than to order a sentence to be served in custody.

Review rights regarding searches on Handout 2: Legal Rights for Youth.

Activity 8: At the Border

Before providing students with the scenario in the content section, have students answer the following pre-questions. Have participants stand up/sit down to indicate a yes/no response to the following statements.

  1. A youth record is destroyed when you turn 18.
    The time your youth record lasts has nothing to do with turning 18.  How old you are when your record is closed depends on how old you were when you were sentenced, and how long the sentence lasted. The laws about this are quite complicated, but here are some main facts:
    • If you are found guilty of a summary conviction (less serious) offence, your record will last for three years after you finish your sentence, including probation. 
    • If you are found guilty of an indictable (more serious) offence, your record will last for at least five years after you finish your sentence, including probation. 

At the end of these time periods youth records are closed (“sealed”) and cannot be disclosed to anyone.  Youth are no longer regarded as having committed any offence.  This is different from adults.  An adult record is permanent.

  1. They won’t know about your youth record at the United States border because it’s a Canadian matter.
    No.  If you have a youth record you may have a problem getting into the United Sates and you need to talk to a lawyer. There may also be problems in transit through U.S. airports. You cannot assume that the United States will not know about your record.  It is only in Canada that the law says that a youth record has to be closed after a certain period of time. Other countries follow their own laws, not those of Canada. Once another country, including the United States, gets a person’s record, it can keep the record in its computer files forever. 

Conduct the exercise again at the end of the session.

Introduce the scenario as described in the content section and ask students to look for the following when watching the video: Ask participants to identify what Mike needs to know about his youth record if he is planning to travel outside Canada.

Have students watch the video, At the Border. Afterwards, conduct a brainstorm Scenario, You be the lawyer, where Mike phones you and asks if he should go to the United States. Have students discuss what advice they would give Mike. Have participants brainstorm suggestions as to what they would say and write them all on the board or flipchart. Then review them and have the group rate them as “good advice” or “bad advice.” Review rights regarding searches on Handout 2: Legal Rights for Youth.

 The following are examples of good advice:

  • Don’t go — at least not until you’ve seen a lawyer. If you have a youth record and it’s been shared with the United States, you might be refused entry at the border. 
  • The best thing you can do is to avoid travelling to other countries, including the U.S., until you know your youth record has been closed. 
  • Find out how long your record is expected to last. Do not try to get into the United States or any other country until that time has passed. 
  • Make sure the RCMP has destroyed your file before you travel. If your record is no longer in the RCMP files, other countries won’t be able to get it. 
  • Whether you have an open or closed youth record, speak to a lawyer who has experience in youth criminal law before making plans to travel to the U.S. or other countries.
  • Don’t try to sneak in. If you’re caught at the border or if you get caught lying about your previous record, your car could be confiscated and never returned, or you may be taken into custody.