The Youth Criminal Justice Act
The Youth Criminal Justice Act (“YCJA”) governs criminal offences and correctional law for individuals between 12 and under 18 years of age at the time of commission of the crime. Under certain conditions, a youth may be sentenced as an adult offender, however, section 13 of the Criminal Code states that “no person shall be convicted of an offence in respect to an act or omission on his or her part while that person was under twelve years”.
Section 3 of the YCJA under the heading, “Declaration of Principle”, outlines the principles that apply to the Act.
Section 3(a) states that the youth criminal justice system is intended to protect the public by;
i) holding young persons accountable proportionately to the seriousness of their crime;
ii) promoting the rehabilitation and integration of young offenders;
iii) supporting the prevention of crime by referring young persons to programs or agencies in the community to address the circumstances underlying their offending behaviour.
Assault is one of the most common offences among youth offenders. Assault is defined under section 265 of the Criminal Code as follows:
265 (1) A person commits an assault when
(a) without the consent of another person, he or she applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;
(b) he or she attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he or she has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or
(c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he or she accosts or impedes another person or begs.
Section (2) of this provision states that this section applies to all forms of assault, including, sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm and aggravated sexual assault.
A common defence for assault is the accused’s belief that the victim consented to a fight. Consent may be real or apprehended. Whether the victim consents in each case is a question of fact. In those cases, a youth charged with an assault may have to testify at trial as to why he or she believed that there was an agreement to fight. The defendant must show some kind of evidence of consent to the assault. Another common defense is self defense. In those cases, a person charged may have to show that the force he or she used in defending him or herself was reasonable in the circumstance.
The primary purpose of sentencing a young offender is to find a balance between the interests of society and the interests of a young person. A sentencing Judge will encourage the young offender to take responsibility for their actions while promoting rehabilitation and public safety. Not all convictions for assault will lead to a criminal record and not all convictions will lead to a jail sentence.
If you are in the need of the services of a lawyer, the best place to search is the internet. Search using the phrase ‘Criminal Lawyer Hamilton’ to get the best results.
The Youth Criminal Justice Act