The Youth Justice Process in B.C.

This section will help you understand the way the youth justice system works in B.C. - from reporting and investigating a crime to sentencing and release from jail.

It highlights how a case involving a youth is dealt with differently than one involving an adult.

Overview of How the Criminal Justice System Works for Youth

The following generally describes what may happen when a crime is reported to police:

  1. A crime is reported to police.
  2. Police investigate the crime.
  3. Police decide whether to recommend to Crown counsel that charges be laid. Police may decide to deal with the case without going to Crown counsel or the court by using extrajudicial measures.
  4. Police may arrest and keep the youth in custody or release the youth on their own or to a parent or other adult.
  5. Crown counsel reviews the police report and may charge the accused if there is enough evidence to prove the youth is guilty and the public interest requires a prosecution. Crown counsel may send a caution letter (a warning), deal with the case without going to court by referring it for extrajudicial sanctions or begin court proceedings.
  6. If the Crown counsel begins court proceedings, the youth may be required to go to court.
  7. The court decides if the youth is guilty or not guilty of committing a crime.
  8. If the youth is found guilty, the court sentences the accused.
  9. A youth found guilty of committing a crime may be required to serve their sentence in the community, in youth custody or a combination of both.

More Information

For information about how the adult criminal justice system works and the people involved, see: