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Specific Youth Sentences

See also Sentencing, Question 21, Sentencing Possibilities

 

A.   REPRIMAND 

A reprimand is a stern lecture or warning from the judge.

 

 

B.   ABSOLUTE AND CONDITIONAL DISCHARGES

 

1      What is an absolute discharge?

An Absolute Discharge means that the judge will find you guilty, and you will have a youth justice court record, but there will be no additional punishment, and you are “discharged” from any more obligations to the court – so you have no more obligations to the court or the crown attorney* or the victim(s).

 

2      What is a conditional discharge?

A conditional discharge means that you will have to fulfill certain conditions before being discharged and you may be supervised by someone connected to the court.  If you do not fulfill the conditions, the judge may discharge you anyway, may order that you complete your conditions, attach new conditions, or you may have to return to court and may be given another sentence.

 

 

C.   FINES

 

1      If I am ordered to pay a fine, how much will it be for?

The judge will decide the amount, but you cannot be fined more than an adult would for the same offence, and the absolute maximum is $1000.

 

2      How does the judge decide how much I have to pay?

The judge will consider the seriousness of the offence and your present and future ability to pay the fine.

 

3      What if I cannot pay the fine?

Sometimes you may get extra time to pay the fine, or you may be able to pay off the fine by earning credits for working in a program, if such a program exists in your area.

 

D.   COMPENSATION

Compensation is when you are ordered to pay a person for any loss or damage to their property, or for any loss of income that they suffered, or for physical injuries because of the offence. 

 

 

E.    RESTITUTION

Restitution is when you are ordered to return or replace any property that you got because of the offence, as long as the property is rightfully owned by that person or they had the right to have possession of it (for instance, they had a borrowed library book that you ruined).

 

 

F.    Personal Service or Compensation in kind

 

1      What does it mean if I am ordered to perform personal services?

The judge will order that you have to spend a specific number of hours, working for a person whom you have harmed, or to whom you have caused damage.  The judge may order that you do a specific kind of work.

 

2      Why would I be ordered to do this?

The judge might order this so that you can try to make up for the harm you have caused, to help make things right or pay back the victim of the crime.  The judge might order personal service where the crime is such that “restitution” is not possible – like ordering you to paint over or erase graffiti that you did.  The judge must think that you are the right kind of person for this sentence.

 

3      What if the victim doesn’t want personal service?

Then the judge cannot make this part of your sentence.

 

4      How much time would I have to finish the work?

That will be up to the judge, but it cannot take more than 240 hours, and it must be done in 1 year or less from the date of your sentence.  (240 hours in a year is a little more than 4 ½ hours per week.)  Also, the personal service cannot interfere with your school or your employment.

 

 

G.   Community Service

 

1      What is a community service order?

If you get community service the judge will order that you do work for an approved social or community agency – often a community centre, place of worship (like a church or a temple), hospital, nursing home, or a city or town department.  You will be supervised in this work.

 

2      What is the purpose of this kind of order?

It holds you responsible for your behaviour in the community, and makes you use your energy for doing positive instead of negative things in your community.

 

3      How much work will I have to do?

That will be up to the judge, but it cannot take more than 240 hours, and it must be done in 1 year or less from the date (just like with personal service) of your sentence.  Also, the community service cannot interfere with your school or your employment.

 

4      Can I make suggestions about the kind of work I want to do?

Yes you can.  Speak to your lawyer who can assist you and can present your ideas to the judge.  The work must be part of an approved program or the judge must be sure that the organization has agreed to have you do your community service with them.

 

 

H.   Prohibition Order

The judge may order that you are forbidden from having something, or that you give the thing over to the police – this is called a prohibition order, and is most often about weapons.  Sometimes a judge may order that you are not allowed to have a computer or anything else that was related to your offence.  There are some situations where the judge is required to give you a prohibition order.

 

1.  When is a judge required to make a prohibition order?

It depends on the crime.  If you are found guilty of an offence involving the use of violence or a weapon the judge is required to order that you are forbidden to have any firearm, cross-bow, ammunition, explosive, or prohibited weapon or device.  This is called a mandatory prohibition order. 

 

2.  How long will this order last?

A mandatory prohibition order will last for at least 2 years from the date you are found guilty, or if you go to jail it will last for at least 2 years after you get out of jail.  If a prohibition order is not mandatory, but the judge decides to make a prohibition order anyway, it must be for 2 years or less.

 

3.  What if I use a firearm or another weapon for hunting?

If the judge makes a prohibition order for firearms or other weapons, you will not be able to have or use a firearm or any other weapon that is in the order for any reason, even hunting.

 

 

I.     Probation

 

1      What is probation?

Probation means that you will be supervised quite closely even though you are not in jail (or custody*) and it gives you a chance to show that you are responsible enough not to get into more trouble with the criminal justice system.  While you are on probation there will be conditions that you must fulfill to prove that you will stay out of trouble. 

The conditions that will always apply are:

  • you must “keep the peace and be of good behaviour” – meaning that you will not break any laws; and

  • you must appear in court if you are told by the court to do so.

2      Are there other conditions?

Yes.  On top of those first 2 conditions, the judge can add any of the following conditions:

  • that you report to and be supervised by a probation officer;

  • that you tell the court if you move or change schools or change jobs;

  • that you cannot leave town, the province, territory or country;

  • that you try to get and keep a job;

  • that you go to school, or another appropriate place of learning, training or recreation, if the judge thinks there is an appropriate place for you to go;

  • that you live with a parent or another responsible adult who will look out for you;

  • that you live at a place chosen by the provincial director*;

  • that you cannot have or own any weapon, ammunition, device or explosive (although the judge can make exceptions); and

  • any other conditions that the judge thinks are appropriate – such as a curfew, or that you obey your parent’s rules, or the rules of the house wherever you live.

3      What if I do not understand the terms of my probation order?

When a judge makes a probation order, he or she must make sure that it is read to you and that you understand it.  The judge must also make sure that you, (and a parent if one is there with you), get a copy of the order, and you will be asked to sign the order.  If there is anything that you do not understand you should ask the judge about it.  You should not sign a probation order if there is something that you do not understand.  Before the order is made, you should explain to the judge if there is a term or rule you absolutely cannot follow.

 

4      Is probation for a definite period of time?

Yes.  The judge must tell you how long you are on probation.  It must be for less than 2 years, unless you have committed more than one offence and then your probation could be for up to 3 years.

 

5      If the conditions of the probation are not working out, can I have them changed?

Yes, in some cases.  If this happens to you, you should talk to your lawyers as soon as possible.  For example, if one of the conditions is that you be home by 8:00 PM and you get a job that keeps you out until 9:00 PM, your lawyer could explain the situation to a judge and ask to have the condition changed.  Until the judge orders that the condition is changed, you have to do what the probation order says or you will be breaching your probation, which is a criminal offence.

 

6      While I’m on probation, will I ever have to go back to court?

It is possible.  If you are not going along with the conditions of your probation, your probation officer is supposed to tell the police and they can charge you with a new offence: “failure to comply with probation”.

 

7      Is this serious?

Yes.  It is a whole new offence.  If you are found guilty, you could get sentenced to custody* and it will be added to your youth justice court record.  The judge will take it seriously because they gave you a chance to take responsibility and accept your punishment for the first offence, and you ignored them.

 

8      What can I do if I am charged with “failure to comply”?

Call your lawyer right away; it is the same as being charged with any other offence.

 

9      After I complete my probation, will I ever have to go back to court for the same crime?

No.  You cannot be brought back to court for the same offence.  If you are charged with a new offence then you could be brought back for the new offence.

 

 

J.    Intensive support and supervision program

The judge could order that you participate in an intensive support and supervision program if a program like that exists where you live.  The sentence would involve close monitoring and mandatory support services to assist you in changing your behaviour. 

 

K.   Non-residential program

A judge can order that you go to a go to a non-residential program if such a program exists where you live. For example, a judge could order you to go to a drug or alcohol treatment program or a literacy program.

 

1      How long would I have to go to a non-residential program?

The order can be for up to 240 hours over 6 months or less.  You do not have to live there and the judge has to make sure that it does not interfere with your regular school schedule or your job. 

 

 

L.    Custody* and Supervision Order*

 

1      What does it mean if I am sentenced to custody?

Often people use the word “jail” to describe being sentenced to custody.  It means that you cannot go home, and that you must live at a place called a “youth custody facility”.

 

2      Will I be sent to a jail where adults are locked up?

You will be sent to a designated youth custody facility, where there are only young people, unless you are sentenced as an adult when it is possible for you to be put in an adult facility.  Sometimes there are also places where there are adults, but there is a separate area where the young people live and have no contact with the adults.  If you are still in custody* when you are 18, you can be transferred to an adult facility.

 

3      Why is it called a “Custody and Supervision Order”?

Because when the judge makes an order like this you will have to spend some time in custody, and then some time under supervision in the community.

 

4      Is all custody the same?

No.  Each province and territory must have at least two different levels of custody that will have different levels of security or freedom.

 

5      Who decides what level of custody I would go to?

A person called the “provincial director” makes this decision.  The provincial director is a government official who works for the provincial or territorial government, and is involved in making sure that the jails and custody facilities work properly.

 

6      How does the provincial director* decide which level of custody I will get?

You will get the least restrictive level of custody that is appropriate for you, taking the following things into consideration:

  • the seriousness of the offence, and the circumstances of your involvement;

  • your needs, including how close you would be to family, school, employment and support services;

  • the safety of other young people in custody;

  • the interests of society;

  • where the best programs for you are available; and

  • whether you are likely to try and escape.

    Is that a final decision?

No. The provincial director* may decide that your situation has changed so that a different level of custody is appropriate.  You have the right to a review, by a review board, of your placement if you are in the most secure custody level or if you are transferred to a more secure custody level. 

 

8      How long can the sentence be?

The first part - in custody, will be twice as long as the second part – under supervision.  But the whole time must be 2 years or less, unless you are found guilty of an offence for which an adult could get a life sentence, and then it can be 3 years.  If the sentence is 2 years then the first part in custody can be a maximum of 16 months, and the second part would then be 8 months for a total of 24 months.  If the sentence is 3 years then the maximum time in custody is 24 months, and then 12 months under supervision.

 

9      Would I ever have to spend more than 16 or 24 months in custody?

It is possible.  Before the custody time of your sentence runs out the prosecutor* may apply to the judge asking that you be kept in custody for the rest of your sentence. 

 

The judge can impose separate sentences for different offences that you commit.  The combined sentence cannot usually exceed 3 years.   s.42(15)

 

And there is a more serious sentence for murder charges (see next question).

 

10    Are there any sentences more serious than the two or three year custody and supervision order?

Yes.  If you are found guilty of first degree murder you can be sentenced to 10 years, with a maximum of 6 years in custody and 4 years under supervision in the community.  But before the custody part is finished the prosecutor* could ask a judge to order that you continue to be held in custody for the rest of your sentence.

 

If you are found guilty of second degree murder you can be sentenced to 7 years, with a maximum of 4 years in custody and 3 years under supervision in the community.  Again, before the custody part of your sentence is finished the prosecutor* could ask the judge to order that you continue to be held in custody for the rest of your sentence. 

 

11    Why would a judge extend my custody?

The judge may be convinced that you are likely to commit a serious violent offence before the end of your sentence, or that the conditions of the supervision part of your sentence would not prevent you from committing another offence.

 

12    How would the judge be convinced of those things?

The judge must look for the following things:

  • evidence* of a pattern of violent behaviour that doesn't seem to stop;

  • evidence from a psychologist or a psychiatrist because of a physical or mental health problem you are likely to commit a serious violent offence before your sentence is finished;

  • reliable evidence that you are planning to commit a serious violent offence before your sentence is finished;

  • whether or not there is a supervision programme that can offer satisfactory protection to the public from the chance that you might commit another offence;

  • whether you are more likely to offend if you spend your whole sentence in custody and do not get the benefit of being in the community but having close supervision; and

  • evidence of a pattern of having committed violent offences when you were under community supervision in the past.

13    What does it mean to be supervised in the community?

The judge will make an order about what conditions will apply to your supervision.  They must include the following:

  • that you keep the peace and be of good behaviour - meaning that you must stay out of legal trouble;

  • that you report to the police, or the person responsible for supervising you, for example, a youth worker;

  • that you inform the person responsible for supervising you if you are arrested or questioned by police;

  • that you tell the person responsible for supervising you where you are living, and tell them immediately of any change in your address, your school or work;

  • that you report any change in your family or financial situation;

  • that you report any other change that might make it harder for you to comply with the conditions of your sentence; and

  • that you not own or have any weapon, ammunition, or explosive except if you specifically need to have such a thing for a program.

Also, the person responsible for supervising you may put other conditions on you that will support your needs and promote your rehabilitation. 

 

14    What if I don’t understand the conditions?

The person responsible for supervising you must make sure that you have been told the conditions, that you understand them, and that you and a parent get a written copy of the conditions.  If there is anything you do not understand, you should ask to have it explained to you again until you do understand.

 

15    Am I ever allowed to go home when I am in custody?

Yes.  You may be permitted to leave custody on a “reintegration leave”.  This can be for up to 30 days at a time, and can also be taken away if it looks like things are not going well.

 

16    Why would I get reintegration leave?

You would get the leave if the provincial director* decides that it is necessary or would be good for your rehabilitation, or for getting used to being back in the community.  It could be for a continuous period of time, or it could be for specific days and times so that you can go to school of other training, get a job or help out your family, participate in a program that would be good for you, or go to a treatment program of some kind.

 

17    Who decides what type of facility I can be detained in?

Either the judge or someone within the Provincial government, most likely the provincial director* will determine what type of facility you will be detained in.  s.85(3)(4)

 

18    How does the government personnel determine what type of facility I will be detained in?

In making the decision the judge or provincial director* has to take into account the following factors:

  • the seriousness of the offence,

  • the circumstances of the offence,

  • your needs and circumstances, including closeness to family, school, employment and support services,

  • the safety of others in custody*, and the interests of society

  • whether programs are available to meet your needs and behaviour, and

  • the likelihood of you escaping.  s.85(3)(5)

19    What happens if I turn 18 while I am still serving my youth sentence?

The provincial director can apply to the court to have you moved to an adult facility, but you have the right to voice your opinion.  s.92(1)(2)

 

20    Can I ever see my friends and family if I am in custody?

Yes.  You will probably be allowed to have visits at the youth custody facility.

 

21    What can I do if I am having problems or I am being hassled by other young people or by the staff in custody?

 

Tell the staff or supervisor of the place where you are in custody about the problem.

 

You can call the Child Advocate in Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.  It is their job to ensure that all young people in custody are being treated properly according to law.

 

You can contact the Ombudsman in Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon.  It is their job to investigate complaints against government services and agencies – like custody facilities.

 

If you are in care or have a youth worker, tell your worker.

 

Tell your lawyer.  If your complaint is serious, there may be a legal or court ordered answer to your problem.

 

 

22    What if I run away from my place of custody?

This is a serious matter.  It is a criminal offence to “escape lawful custody” and you will likely be charged.  If you are found guilty you will probably get a longer time in custody, and it will add to your Youth Justice Court record.

 

 

M.   DEFERRED CUSTODY AND SUPERVISION ORDER

 

    What is a Deferred Custody and Supervision Order?

A deferred custody and supervision order means that you do not have to go into custody but will be subject to conditions and supervision in the community.  A deferred custody and supervision order cannot last more than 6 months from the date you are sentenced.  You cannot get this type of sentence if your offence involved serious violence. 

 

2      If I am not going into custody then why is it called a Deferred Custody and Supervision order?

If you do not comply with the conditions of your order, the conditions may be changed and you may be ordered to serve the remaining time as a custody* and supervision order* (described above in Section L).

 

3      What type of conditions will there be?

The conditions that will always apply are that you:

  • “keep the peace and be of good behaviour” – meaning that you will not break any laws;

  • must appear in court if you are told by the court to do so;

  • report to and be supervised by the provincial director* or any other person chosen by the Youth Justice Court;

  • immediately tell the provincial director if you are arrested or questioned by the police;

  • report to the police, or any other person, as instructed by the provincial director;

Tell the court of the provincial director if:

  • you move or change schools or change jobs;

  • there are any changes in your family or financial situation;

  • there are any other changes that affect your ability to comply with any of the conditions of your order;

  • cannot have or own any weapon, ammunition, device or explosive (although the judge can make exceptions); and

  • comply with any other reasonable conditions that the provincial director may order. 

4      Are there other conditions?

Yes.  On top of those conditions, the judge can add any of the following conditions:

  • that on release, you must go straight home or any other place the court orders;

  • that you try to get and keep a job;

  • that you go to school, or another place of learning, training or recreation, if the judge thinks that there is an appropriate place for you to go;

  • that you live with a parent or another responsible adult who will look after you;

  • that you live at a place chosen by the provincial director*;

  • that you cannot leave town, the province, territory or country; and

  • comply with ant other conditions that the judge thinks are appropriate - such as curfew, or that you obey your parent's rules, or the rules of the house wherever you live.

N.   INTENSIVE REHABILITATIVE CUSTODY* AND SUPERVISION ORDER*

If you are found guilty of first or second degree murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, aggravated sexual assault, or if you are being sentenced for a serious violent offence and have at least 2 other serious violent offences on your record, in some special circumstances the judge could order you into an intensive rehabilitative custody and supervision program if you have a mental health problem.

 

What special circumstances would lead a judge to order this sentence?

  • it only applies to the kinds of offences listed above;

  • you must have a mental health problem;

  • there must be a plan for treatment and intensive supervision developed for you, and there must be a reason to believe that the plan might reduce the chances that you will commit another serious violent offence; and

  • there must be a program like this available in your province.