Just as adults can get caught up in the criminal justice system, so too can younger people. The Youth Criminal Justice Act applies to charges laid against those under the age of 18 (at the time of the offence) and it provides special protections and legal tests to determine the appropriate outcomes for cases of this nature. Despite special protections available to youth facing criminal charges, more and more they are being treated as offenders in the criminal justice system rather than young people within an alternative system. It is therefore very important to retain legal counsel and access professional advice.
I help young people navigate the difficult experience of dealing with the Youth Criminal Justice system and use every tool available to ensure they get the best possible outcome. I also work with their families wherever possible, and it is a huge asset in any such case if a young person can demonstrate strong family support. At the same time, I always explain to everyone (and it is important to understand this) that the young person facing charges is my client and not their family.
Any criminal charge is serious, but for younger people at the beginning of their lives it’s absolutely critical to get the right outcome from the start. The wrong sentence or result can send someone down a lifelong path that may be very unhealthy for them, and can damage or limit their opportunities in the future. Being young is a time of possibilities, and no amount of trouble with the law should change that.