Alternatives to Court

The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) has special provisions that allow police and Crown to deal with a youth without using the formal youth court system. These are called extrajudicial measures and extrajudicial sanctions. Extrajudicial measures:

  • Address situations in an informal manner to make the youth accountable to the community
  • Encourage repair of the harm done by the youth
  • Based on the crime committed, ensure the punishment makes sense for the youth
  • Spare the youth and parents the experience of going to court
  • Consider the unique needs of Aboriginal youth
  • Work toward re-establishing the youth in the community so they do not continue to be involved in crime

More about Extrajudicial Measures

If the offence is nonviolent and the youth has no previous offences, a police officer must consider using extrajudicial measures. If police decide to go this route, they will not lay a charge against the youth. A conference of people affected by the youth’s actions (for example, parents and victims) may be held to figure out what should happen. Possible extrajudicial measures include:

  • If the offence is minor and the youth has had no dealings with police, the police may decide to take no further action
  • A warning or caution that will be kept in police records in case the youth comes into contact with police again
  • If the youth agrees, they may be referred to a community program

More about Extrajudicial Sanctions

Extrajudicial sanctions are a more formal type of extrajudicial measure. They are used when a more serious offence has been committed or when the youth has been convicted of previous offences. Crown counsel decides if extrajudicial sanctions should be used following an investigation conducted by a youth probation officer.  Some things Crown counsel might consider approving as extrajudicial sanctions include:

  • Paying money or returning property to the victim (restitution)
  • Participating in counselling
  • Apologizing to the victim
  • Doing community service

The youth must agree to the extrajudicial measure. A youth who does not want to participate in an extrajudicial measure or sanction suggested by the police or Crown, has the option of being formally charged and going to court.