Transforming Lives of At-Risk Youth

FAQs for First-Time Offenders

Navigating and understanding the Youth Justice System can be daunting for first-time offenders and their parents. Here are a few frequently asked questions and responses about what you need to know, what you can expect, and how reStart can support you through the process. 

If you need to support or require further information, please contact us.

What happens if a youth is charged for an offence and needs to attend the Youth Justice Court?

The youth will receive a date to appear in court. It is advised that they seek legal representation and that the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) attends court with them.

What is the Youth Justice Court like?

The Youth Justice Court is separate from the adult justice system. When a youth breaks the law, the police will look to the Youth Criminal Justice Act to decide if charges are warranted and in the spirit of the law.

Do my parents have to come with me?

You need an adult to attend Youth Justice Court with you either a parent or guardian, a lawyer, or someone from reStart. If a parent does not attend proceedings, and the judge decides the presence of the parent or guardian is necessary or in the best interest of the young person, they will, by order in writing, require the parent or guardian to attend at any stage of the proceedings.

What happens if my parent(s)/guardian(s) does not come to court with me?

At any stage of the proceedings, the court may send a written requirement that the parent/guardian attend.

What will happen the first time I go to court?

The clerk in the courtroom will read the charge against you out loud. The Youth Justice Court judge will ask you if you have a lawyer representing you.

What will happen at my trial?

A judge listens to the evidence and decides if the youth is guilty or not guilty. If guilty, the judge also decides on a sentence. If the judge finds that you are not guilty of the charges against you, you are acquitted and free to go.

Can a young person be sentenced as an adult?

No, not in the Youth Justice Court. However, depending on the age of the child or severity of the crime, the Youth Criminal Justice Act does allow the Crown Attorney to apply to have a young person sentenced as an adult in certain cases.

If I have to stay in custody, where will I go?

A judge may order a custody sentence where a youth would be placed at a youth justice custody facility. The decision to order a custody sentence would consider a number of factors, including the seriousness of the offence and prior findings of guilt.

How long does a youth record last?

For summary offences (less serious offences), your record will remain for three years from the end of the sentence. For indictable offences (more serious) your record will be kept for five years from the end of your sentence.