Lesson 5: Youth Criminal Justice Act – Key Elements

Topic 2: Extrajudicial Measures and Sanctions

Did You Know?

  • The Attorney General or any other chosen minister may set up a program that lets the police give cautions to youth instead of going to court. Most provinces and territories do not have a caution program yet
  • The Crown does its extrajudicial sanctions through probation. Probation has experience in handling referrals and works a lot with reliable agencies that can deal with the measures
  • If the Crown writes a letter to the parents of a young offender instead of going to court, it will be recorded on the JUSTIN system in British Columbia. If the youth commits another crime, the Crown can see that a measure has already been used

What are Extrajudicial Measures?

They are ways of dealing with youth who have broken the law, besides going to court. Some examples are:

  • Police warnings
  • Referrals to community programs
  • Extrajudicial sanctions

What are Extrajudicial Sanctions?
They are consequences that are outside of the court system. They are used by the Crown and if the conditions are not fulfilled, the case can be brought before the court for disposition.

Why are Extrajudicial Measures Used?
They are often the most appropriate and effective way to deal with youth.

When Would I go to Court?
The police look at extrajudicial measures before starting the process for going to court. Extrajudicial measures are supposed to be used every time they're enough to hold youth accountable, even if it's not their first time.

Why are These Measures Used?
Extrajudicial measures are often the best way to address youth crime. The main reasons for using these measures are because:

  • They allow for effective and timely interventions that fix offending behaviour
  • They should be enough to hold youth accountable if s/he have committed a non-violent crime and s/he have never been found guilty of a crime before
  • They should be used every time they are enough to hold youth accountable, even if they have been dealt with by extrajudicial measures before or if they had been found guilty of a crime before

What Should Extrajudicial Measures do?
 They should:

  • Be a good and timely response to the crime
  • Help fix harm caused to the victim and the community
  • Encourage the involvement of families, victims, and the community
  • Respect your rights
  • Be in line with the seriousness of the crime

A measure that repairs the harm done is often the best thing for youth. It can be done effectively outside of court.

When can an Extrajudicial Measure be Used?
These measures can only be used if there are reasonable grounds to charge youth with a crime. A crime is found to be serious by looking at the case. The police and Crown look at things such as:

  • If a lot of harm has been done to a person
  • Great damage has been done
  • Expensive property has been stolen

What Extrajudicial Measures can the Police use?
The police may use the following extrajudicial measures:
 

  • Take no more action: This can be done when the parents, victims, or others have already done enough to hold youth accountable.
  • Warning youth: This is an informal warning. It is up to the police.
  • Police caution: This is a formal warning. It is usually a letter sent to the youth and his or her parents. The youth and their parents may be asked to go to the police station for a talk with a senior officer.
  • Referrals to community programs: Youth are referred to a community program or agencies that may help them stop committing crimes. Youth must agree. Youth may talk with lawyers about this.

What Extrajudicial Measures can the Crown use?
The Crown may use the following measures:

  • Give youth a Crown caution after the police have referred the case. This is usually a letter to the youth and their parents.
  • Refer youth to a program for extrajudicial sanctions that is generally for serious offenders and where more rules apply.

Why do Police or the Crown use Conferences?
 A police officer or Crown lawyers may hold a conference to get advice on suitable measures. Conferences are a way to get:

  • More ideas on a case
  • More creative solutions
  • Better coordination of services
  • More involvement from the victim or other community members

When are Extrajudicial Sanctions used?
Extrajudicial sanctions are a part of extrajudicial measures. The Crown may only use extrajudicial sanctions if:

  • Other measures are not enough to hold youth accountable
  • There is a program in the community that is authorized by the government
  • It is good for the needs of youth and the interests of society
  • Youth have agreed to the sanction and know of their right to a lawyer and have a chance to talk to a lawyer
  • Youth take responsibility (for their role in the crime)
  • There is enough evidence to go ahead with the charge

Who Deals With the Referral From the Crown?
Probation Services of the Ministry of Children and Family Development usually deals with youth if the Crown refers you for an extrajudicial sanction.

What Happens to a Charge if I Complete an Extrajudicial Sanction?
 If a charge has been laid, then the Crown would stop the case until the youth has largely complied with or completed the extrajudicial sanction. Then the charge would be dismissed. This means that the charge is no longer pursued. If youth do not comply or complete the measure, the Crown decides whether to go ahead with the prosecution and they may go to court for a trial.

Who Can be Told if an Extrajudicial Sanction is Being Used?
The person running the program for youth must tell your parents about the extrajudicial sanction. Also, the victim can ask to be told the name of the youth and how the crime has been dealt with.

What Happens when Taking Part in Extrajudicial Measures?
If youth take responsibility for the crime as a condition for an extrajudicial measure, that information cannot be used against the youth. However, if s/he is being sentenced, his or her history of extrajudicial sanctions is in a pre-sentence report. This report helps the judges decide what would be the most appropriate sentence. The record of extrajudicial sanctions can be reviewed by the youth, the Crown and the police for varying lengths of time. Extrajudicial sanctions come up during sentencing for any later findings of guilt or convictions. Other extrajudicial measures do not.

Summary

There is a presumption that extrajudicial measures (non-court responses) should be considered before formal court proceedings are initiated.

Principles of Extrajudicial Measures

  • Extrajudicial measures are often the most appropriate and effective way to address youth crime
  • Allow for effective and timely interventions focused on correcting offending behaviour
  • They are presumed to be adequate to hold a young person accountable if the young person has committed a non-violent offence and has not previously been found guilty of an offence
  • Extrajudicial measures should be used in every case where they are adequate to hold a young person accountable, even if the young person has previously been dealt with by extrajudicial measures or has previously been found guilty of an offence

Objectives of Extrajudicial Measures

  • Extrajudicial measures provide an effective and timely response to the offending behaviour
  • Encourage the repair of harm caused to the victim and the community
  • Encourage the involvement of families, victims and the community
  • Respect the rights of young persons
  • Extrajudicial measures must be proportionate to the seriousness of the offence

Types of Extrajudicial Measures

  • If there are reasonable grounds to charge a youth with an offence, then the police or Crown may consider using extrajudicial measures
  • Police may take no further action, warn, caution or refer youth to community programs
  • Crown may caution or use extrajudicial sanctions
  • The police or Crown may convene or cause to convene conferences to obtain advice on appropriate measures

Extrajudicial Sanctions

  • Extrajudicial sanctions can only be used if:
    • The youth accepts responsibility for the act or omission that forms the basis of the offence
    • There is enough evidence to proceed with a prosecution
    • The youth has given informed consent, there is a program in place
    • No other measures will hold the youth accountable
    • The young person has been informed of his or her right to obtain counsel, and has been given a reasonable opportunity to do so
  • If the youth complies with an extrajudicial sanction, the charge(s) will be stayed.
  • If the youth does not comply, the Crown will decide whether to proceed with the prosecution.
  • Parents need to be notified if an extrajudicial sanction is being used.
  • Victims are entitled to know the name of the youth and receive information about the extrajudicial sanction.
  • A history of extrajudicial sanctions will be included on pre-sentence reports if a youth is later convicted of a criminal offence and will form a record that can be accessed for a period of time.