The Youth Criminal Justice Act assures a modified treatment of young offenders, those between the ages of 12 and 17.
Firstly, parents or legal guardians must be notified that their child is being prosecuted.
Secondly, youth statements must be obtained in the presence of a lawyer of another adult, unless the young person requests the adult not be with them. If this protocol isn’t followed, the youth’s statement cannot be used in court.
Bail is also much easier to obtain.
Furthermore, there are more options for sentences. On the most lenient level, a warning or caution is possible; there are extra-judicial sanctions which allow for accepting responsibility through an activity, like writing an essay or doing community service, without having to plead guilty in court. If this is done, the young person will not have a criminal record and the charge will be withdrawn after completing the sanction. Youth Courts look for alternatives to jail sentences, like community service, alcohol or drug treatment, etc. However, in serious cases such as violent crimes, the prosecutor may apply that the youth be prosecuted and sentenced as an adult.
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