Young Offenders Lawyer in Edmonton, AB
Getting a criminal record at a young age can majorly impact the rest of a person’s life. If your child has been charged with an offence, it’s crucial to ensure their penalties won’t significantly affect their daily lives. One way to protect them is by hiring a young offenders lawyer.
A lawyer will work to prove your child’s innocence, safeguard their rights and negotiate a favourable outcome.
Who Counts as a Young Offender?
Young offenders are people between 12 and 17 years old who commit an offence under federal law. These offences may include:
- disorderly conduct
- alcohol and drug offences
- driving offences
How Does the Law Treat Young Offenders Differently?
Young offender cases are processed under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which now refers to them as “young persons.” These cases, carried out by the youth court, are often conducted under a publication ban to protect the identities of the young persons involved. Under the YCJA, the focus is on rehabilitating young persons and reintegrating them into society without locking them up.
Canadian criminal law affords young offenders unique privileges and rights. These privileges and rights impact all aspects of the criminal process, like the sentences they receive if found guilty, how their cases are investigated and their treatment throughout the proceedings. Young persons’ legal rights include:
- eligibility for bail
- legal representation when stopped by police and during all criminal proceedings
- anonymity, or not being publicly identified through media publications or during criminal proceedings – courts and the media may only refer to them by their initials
- guardian representation during questioning
- sealed criminal histories, unless they commit another crime within a specific time frame
- fair sentences based on their awareness of consequences and level of responsibility
Penalties for a Young Offenders Conviction
The nature of the crime greatly influences how a case proceeds. For less serious charges, like driving offences, prosecutors may be lenient and offer to withdraw the charges if the accused undertakes to counsel or enters a diversion program. Judges can also choose to:
- place the young person under their parents’ supervision
- impose a curfew
- order payment of a fine or performance of community service
- order attendance of a program at specific times and on certain conditions
- enforce mandatory school attendance
For violent crimes like aggravated or sexual assault, the courts may hand down harsher judgments, including supervision or community-based sentences. These options can include time in youth custody facilities (aka jail time).
Why Should You Hire a Young Offenders Lawyer?
Without an experienced lawyer to delve into the underlying issues and develop a litigation strategy, young people can find themselves in a cycle of endless criminality. Such a cycle can continue into adulthood, resulting in lengthy criminal records and obstacles to education, employment and travel opportunities.
The first thing you should do when your child is charged is contacting a lawyer with relevant experience. A young offenders lawyer will help them understand their charges, protect their rights and present a compelling defence.