Lesson 6: Youth Criminal Justice Act – Key Elements Part 2

Topic 2: Victims and Youth Justice

Did You Know?

The Young Offenders Act (previous act for youth) did not sufficiently recognize the concerns and interests of victims. However, judges did hear victim impact statements in court before imposing a sentence.

Does the YCJA Recognize the Rights of the Victim?
Yes. YCJA clearly recognizes the interest and needs of victims to be involved at different stages of the youth justice process. Section 3 says that "Victims should be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect for their dignity and privacy." YCJA Sections 3(d) (ii) and (iii), 12, 42, 53, 111, 119.

What Does YCJA say About Victims of Youth Crime?
A victim should:

  • Be told about the proceedings
  • Have a chance to take part in the proceedings
  • Be heard
  • Have a chance to take part in community-based measures
  • Get information about what is being done for the offender that does not involve going to court
  • Be able to give a victim impact statement (a written report about how the crime affected the victim) at the time of sentencing
  • Be able to ask for access to the record of the youth who committed the crime

How do Extrajudicial Measures Involve the Victim?
The victim may be directly involved in making decisions about what happens to the young offender and what reparations or ways that youth can make up for his or her crime. The victim must be told about a compensation order.

These measures encourage youth to:

  • Acknowledge their actions
  • Fix the harm done to the victim

Do I Have to Speak to the Victim(s) of my Crime(s)?
No. However, if youth agree to take part in a conference on community justice, the victim and others who have been affected by their actions may be there. If the young offender is found guilty of the crime in court, s/he may hear a victim impact statement as it is read aloud during sentencing.

Who Tells the Victim About What is Being Done to the Youth?
Any of the following people may be able to tell the victim about what is being done to the young offender:

  • The police
  • The conference facilitator
  • The person dealing with an extrajudicial measure
  • The Crown

Summary

  • The YCJA clearly recognizes the interest and the needs of victims to have a role of involvement at different stages of the youth justice process
  • The considerations of the victim include:
    • Being notified about the proceedings
    • Being given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings
    • Being given an opportunity to be heard
    • Having a role in formal or informal community-based measures
    • The right to request information about measures or sanctions used for the offender that do not involve going to court
    • The right to submit a victim impact statement at the time of sentencing
    • The right to request access to certain youth records
  • Extrajudicial measures not only encourage the youth to acknowledge their actions but also to repair the harm done to the victim
  • The victim can be directly involved in decisions made about the consequences for the youth and also in the reparations by the youth
  • The victim must be told about a compensation order and must agree to it
  • If the youth agrees to participate in a community justice conference, the victim and others who have been affected by the youth’s actions will be there
  • If the youth has been found guilty of the offence in court proceedings, he or she may have to listen to a victim impact statement

What About the Victims of Youth Crime?

Victims are allowed to submit victim impact statements to the court for the consideration of the Youth Court judge prior to the sentencing of a young offender. This allows victims to become involved in the process by providing an opportunity for them to be heard. Repairing the harm to victims usually takes the form of compensation, restitution, or community service hours. Compensation means that victims are reimbursed for loss of or damage to property caused by the commission of the offence. Restitution is the return of property to victims. The order may only be made at the time of sentencing and upon application by the victims. Work in the community will often be used as a way to compensate the whole of society. In the case of serious crimes, victims may not feel that they can be compensated in any way.