Lesson 7: Youth Criminal Justice Act - Sentencing and Records

Topic 2: Youth Sentencing Options

Sources of Information for Sentencing

When sentencing youth, the judge must think about the following:

  • Holding youth accountable with a fair sentence that has meaningful consequences
  • Rehabilitating youth
  • Ensuring reintegration of the young offender into society

Before sentencing a young offender, a judge may want more information about things like:

  • If the young offender has a previous record
  • The lifestyle, attitude, and history of the youth
  • The impact of the crime on the victim
  • How serious the crime is
  • The circumstances of the crime

A judge gets information from different sources. If there is a trial, the judge learns about the crime from the witnesses who testify. If youth plead guilty, the judge learns about the crime from the Crown's reading of the facts of the case.The judge also gets information from:

  • A pre-sentence report
  • A medical or psychological report
  • Conference recommendations
  • A statement from the victim(s)

What is a Pre-Sentence Report?

It is a report prepared by a probation officer. It can have information about things like:

  • Age
  • Education
  • Family support
  • Job(s)
  • Health problems
  • Addictions
  • History of other measures or extrajudicial sanctions
  • Other findings of guilt

It may have interviews with people such as:

  • Young offender
  • His or her family
  • The victim

A pre-sentence report can also have recommendations from any conference and want the youth to make changes and any plans to make changes (See Section 40).

The judge may, at any time, require a qualified person, such as a medical doctor or psychiatrist, to assess the young offender. This person has to give the assessment, in writing, to the court. (See Section 34). If youth are found guilty, the court may call a conference for recommendations on a good sentence for the young offender. (See Section 41). The judge thinks about the victim impact statement when sentencing. It is made in writing by the person to whom harm was done or by a person who suffered physical or emotional loss as a result of the crime. If the victim is dead, ill, or unable to make the statement, a relative of that person may make the statement. (See Section 42(1))

Types of Youth Sentences

If youth are found guilty of a crime in youth court, the judge could impose one of the following sentences.

Judicial reprimand: Youth get a stern lecture from the judge in a minor case where being apprehended, taken to court, and reprimanded is enough to hold the young offender accountable for his or her crime.

Absolute discharge: Even though you are guilty, there is no finding of guilt registered against you. The discharge is removed from your record after one year.

Conditional discharge: Youth will have to follow certain conditions. If youth do so, their discharge becomes absolute. If they do not follow the conditions, they can be brought back to court for a tougher sentence. This is removed from their youth record after three years.

Fine: This can be ordered for up to $1000. The judge thinks about how much money the young offender has and the time s/he might need to pay when ordering this sentence.

Restitution: If a young offender took something from someone and s/he still has it, s/he can be ordered to return it.

Compensation: Youth may be ordered to pay the victim of their crime for his or her loss, such as:

  • The cost of repairs
  • The cost of replacing the goods
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages if the victim is unable to work

Youth could also be ordered to pay a third party.

Community service: The judge thinks about the young offender’s time and abilities. The judge can order work in the community. Youth are not paid for this work. The order tells how many hours the young offender must do and how long s/he has to complete them. Youth can get up to 240 hours of community service with 1 year to complete them.

Probation: The judge orders youth to follow certain conditions and to report to a probation officer regularly. The officer's job is to watch the young offender’s behaviour so that s/he can get help if s/he needs it. If the rules in the probation order are not followed, the young offender may go back to court for a tougher sentence. The longest time for probation is two years.

Attendance at a program: The judge can order youth to go to a program at a certain time and on conditions set by the judge. This kind of non-residential program must be approved by the provincial director and can be suited to address the case. For example, it could focus on days and times when the young offender is unsupervised and tends to break the law.

Intensive Support and Supervision Program: Youth may be watched closely and get more support than under a probation order. This helps youth to change their behaviour.

Intermittent custody: If youth are sentenced to custody for less than 90 days, they may be able to serve it intermittently (not all in a row). For example, youth may serve their sentence on weekends so that they can go to school during the week.

Deferred custody and supervision order: This allows youth to serve their sentence in the community under conditions, instead of being placed in a youth correctional facility. If the young offender breaks the conditions, s/he will be kept in custody. This sentence is not available if s/he has been found guilty of a serious violent crime.

Custody and supervision: Youth time in custody must be followed by a period of supervision and support in the community. About one-third of the youth sentence will be served under supervision in the community. The custody part of the sentence will be served under the care and control of Youth Corrections. "Closed custody" means youth are being held in jail. "Open custody" means youth are in jail with fewer restrictions and conditions.

Concurrent sentences: This means that if youth have more than one finding of guilt, the judge can order that each sentence is completed at the same time.

Consecutive sentences: This means that if youth have more than one finding of guilt, the judge can order that each sentence is served one after the other. A consecutive sentence means that youth are in custody longer or on probation longer than with a concurrent sentence.

Intensive rehabilitation custody and supervision: This is a special sentence for a serious violent offender. The judge can make this sentence if:

  • Youth are found guilty of one of the presumptive crimes such as murder
  • Youth are suffering from a mental or psychological disorder or an emotional disturbance
  • An individualized treatment plan is developed for the young offender and there is a good program to which s/he is suitable for admission

This sentence is a period of custody with mandatory treatment, followed by a period of conditional supervision and support in the community.

Did You Know?

  • When youth get put in custody, the YCJA says that a youth worker must talk to the young offender to make a plan for reintegration that sets out the best programs for the youth.
  • When youth are in custody, they may get leave for reintegration and to prepare for life back in the community. Leaves can also be granted for medical, compassionate, or humanitarian reasons for up to 30 days. If youth need to see a special medical doctor, they may be granted permission to leave for the appointment, or if there is death in the family youth may be able to attend the funeral.
  • The judge used to decide on the custody level for youth. Now the province or territory can choose to have corrections officials decide or they can leave the decision to the judge.

Summary

Sources of Information

  • When sentencing, the judge must consider the principles of sentencing in the YCJA as well as the principles of protection of the society, the rehabilitation of the offender, general deterrence and specific deterrence.
  • A judge may want additional information about the presence or absence of a criminal record, the lifestyle of the offender, attitude and history of the offender, the impact on the victim, the gravity of the offence and the circumstances concerning the commission of the offence.
  • Sources of information come from the facts of the case, a pre-sentence report, a medical or psychological report, a conference recommendation and/or a victim impact statement.
  • A pre-sentence report includes the previous offending history of the youth and previous measures or sentences given as well as detailed information about the youth.
  • The judge shall consider the victim impact statement during the sentencing process.

Retained Sentences

  • Absolute Discharge - no record after one year
  • Conditional Discharge - no record after three years if conditions met
  • Fine - up to $1000.00 based on time needed and ability to pay
  • Restitution - return of goods to the victim
  • Compensation - repayment for loss suffered by the victim
  • Community Service - work hours done without pay in the community
  • Probation - period of supervision with conditions
  • Intermittent Custody - non-continuous custody
  • Custody
  • Concurrent Sentences
  • Consecutive Sentences - served one after the other

New Youth Sentences

  • Judicial Reprimand - stern lecture by the judge
  • Program Attendance Order - specific to the youth’s needs
  • Intensive Support and Supervision Program (ISSP) - closer monitoring than probation
  • Deferred Custody and Supervision Order - similar to adult suspended sentence, that is, no custody if conditions followed
  • Custody and Supervision - custody always to be followed by supervision in the community
  • Intensive Rehabilitation Custody and Supervision (IRCS) - greater control and guaranteed treatment for serious violent offenders