Definitions:


A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | H | K | L | M | N
O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

 

A

Absolute Discharge
When the judge has found you guilty of an offence but decides that you should not be punished.

Acquitted
When you are found not guilty by the court.

Adjournment
When the judge postpones the matter before the court. The delay may be used to prepare a report, or to get a lawyer, or to prepare for trial.

Alternative Measures
A system by which young people who break the law are dealt with outside the regular court system.

Assessments
These are reports prepared by experts to assist the judge in making decisions about your case. There are many types of assessments: medical and psychological, educational, predisposition and progress reports.

Attorney General
This is the provincial government department that prosecutes offences. The prosecutor, whether he or she is a police officer or a Crown Attorney, works for the Attorney General.


B

Bail Hearing
A hearing where the prosecutor must show the judge why you should remain in detention. But if you are charged with a very serious offence, or you are out on a release already, your lawyer may have to show why you should not be detained until trial.


C

Charge(s)
The formal claim that you committed an offence.

Children's Aid Society
This organization deals with children whose families need help to care for them. Not all provinces have children's aid societies. In some provinces, a Director of Child Welfare or a Superintendent of Child Welfare does this work.

Conviction
The formal declaration by the judge that you are guilty. This happens after you plead guilty or are found guilty.

Correctional Facility
Places where people are held in detention or custody before, during, or after trial.

Criminal Code
See Criminal Law.

Criminal Law
The offences listed in the Criminal Code. The Criminal Code is a law passed only by the federal government. The offences in the Criminal Code are those offences that the federal government considers most serious and harmful in Canada. If you are under 18 and charged with breaking the criminal law, the Young Offenders Act will apply.

Crown Attorney/Crown Counsel
A prosecutor who is a trained lawyer.

Crown Wardship Order
You usually remain in the Children's Aid Society's care until you are 18 years old or in certain situations until the age of 21. In some cases an adoption might be arranged.

Custody

Criminal law - If you are found guilty, the judge may sentence you to custody. This means you will not be free to go home for a specified period of time and you must live in the place to which you are sent.

Family law - if your parents separate or divorce, a decision will be made about who you will live with and who will be making certain decisions for you. This is called custody.


D

Detention
Detention is a way of controlling you if the court finds that this is necessary, between the time you are charged with an offence and the time your trial ends. You may be put under the control of a responsible adult, into a group home, or into a locked facility.

Disposition
When you have been found guilty by the Youth Court, the sentence or punishment you receive is called a disposition.

Duty Counsel
Trained lawyers who are available to give you advice on the day of your appearance in court. They are free to all young people but they do not handle trials.


E

Evidence
The information that is introduced into court at a trial, and that is used to decide upon the guilt or innocence of the person charged with an offence. If you are found guilty, the judge will also consider evidence when he or she decides what your punishment will be.


F

Family Court Clinic
The judge may send you here if he or she wants a medical or psychological report prepared. A qualified person will interview you and perhaps others who know about you (including your family), may carry out some tests, and then prepare the report.

Federal Offences
The offences defined in laws passed in Ottawa by the government of all of Canada.

First Appearance
This is the first time that you go to court on any particular matter. People who are charged with an offence often go to court on more than one date. If you are pleading not guilty, the judge will usually set a date for trial. If you are pleading guilty, the judge may decide on your punishment on your first appearance. If you do not have a lawyer, the judge may put off your case to give you time to get a lawyer.


I

Indictable Offence
Offences are divided into two types, summary and indictable. Indictable offences are the more serious kind and result in harsher punishment than do summary offences.

Intermittent Custody
This is when you are sentenced to custody but do not have to remain in your place of custody at all times. You may be released for specific times, often to go to school or to work.


L

Law Society
An organization in each province that controls and supervises lawyers.

Laying a Charge
This happens when a police officer or any person formally accuses you of committing an offence.

Legal Aid
This is where you can apply to get financial help to get a lawyer if you are not able to pay for one.

Level of Custody
All places of custody are not the same. Some have minimal supervision and security while others have maximum security and very strict supervision.

Litigation Guardian
Someone who represents a young person in court because the young person is too young to give his or her views and input. This person could be any adult or relative who represents or speaks on behalf of the young person.


M

Medical and Psychological Reports
These are reports that will be prepared at the request of the court if it is believed that you are suffering from some physical, mental, learning, or emotional problem. These reports can be ordered if the court is thinking about moving your case to adult court, if there is any question about whether you are physically or mentally able to have a trial, or if the court wants this information to help it make or review your sentence.


O

Open Custody
This involves living in a place where the doors are not locked and there is less supervision than in other kinds of custody. There are, however, a lot of rules to follow and you cannot come and go as you please.


P

Parent(s)
Parent includes any person who has custody or control of you, and may include an adult with whom you live or the Children's Aid Society.

Plea
When you formally tell the judge whether you are guilty or not guilty according to the law.

Predisposition Report
This will be prepared if the judge feels he or she needs more information before you are sentenced, and will always be prepared if the judge is thinking about sentencing you to custody. Its purpose is to help the judge decide what would be the most appropriate sentence for you. You can ask the court not to have this report prepared if you and your lawyer do not want one.

Probation
This is one kind of sentence the court can order. You will be put on probation for a certain period of time when you are to be of good behaviour, appear when asked by the Youth Court, and tell your youth worker of any change of address, school, or employment. You may also have to obey other conditions, such as reporting to your youth worker or keeping a curfew.

Progress Report
The purpose of this report is to help the judge or review board decide whether your present sentence is suitable or whether it should be changed.

Prosecutor
He or she is the person who will present the evidence against you in court. He or she may be an experienced police officer, a trained lawyer, or some other person. This person may also be called the Crown or the Crown Attorney.

Provincial Director
A person or group of people who work for the provincial government. The provincial directors are responsible to carry out the judge's order(s), and deal with Probation and Place of Custody.


Q

Qualified Person
This is a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other person the court believes is qualified to prepare a medical, psychiatric, or psychological report.


R

Represent
When someone, usually a lawyer, gives you legal advice or speaks for you to the police, a judge, or a review board.

Review Board
If you are having your sentence reviewed, you may go before a review board instead of the Youth Court. The people on the board will review your sentence in the same way the Youth Court would. Some provinces, like Ontario, may not have review boards. Reviews of sentences will be made by the Youth Court when there is no review board. Ontario does have a Custody Review Board to look at your actual custody placement. For example if you are put in a facility in Toronto but you want to be closer to your family in North Bay the Review Board can change your place of custody.


S

Search Warrant
A court order allowing the police to search a specific place on a certain date.

Secure custody
If you are sentenced to secure custody, the security is much greater than in the case of open custody. This means more locked doors and more staff to supervise you. In Ontario, there may be two types of secure custody, medium and maximum security. Medium security involves greater supervision than open custody. The outside doors are locked and usually at least one room inside can be locked. Maximum security involves the greatest supervision. The outside doors are locked as well as many interior doors, often including the
rooms in which the young people sleep. This maximum security is a lot like prison.

Sentence
The consequence given by a judge for the offence that you committed. It may be an absolute discharge or a punishment. In Youth Court it is called disposition.

Summary Offence
Offences are divided into two types, summary and indictable. Summary offences are less serious than indictable offences and your sentence is usually not as harsh.

Supervision Order
You must live with your parents or another person who knows you. A judge decides that the Children's Aid Society should be involved in your case. The CAS tries to help you and your family. The court may order you and your family to obey certain conditions while you are at home.


Y

Youth Bureau
A special part of the police force to deal with young people. Its members are specially trained and selected to work with young people. Not all towns and cities have a Youth Bureau.

Youth Court
The court that you will go to if you break a criminal law. The judges will usually be experienced in dealing with young people and their families. If you are under 16 you will go to family court judges. If you are 16 or 17 you will go to criminal court judges.