Accused Youth Rights

As a youth accused or found guilty of committing a crime, you have certain legal rights. This section provides a few examples to help you understand your rights as a youth. It also guides you to more information about your legal rights.

A youth who goes through the youth criminal justice system is treated differently from and an adult who goes through the adult criminal justice system. The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) is the federal law about youth accused or found guilty of a crime.

Turning 18

In British Columbia, when you are accused of committing a crime while you were 12 to 17, your trial or sentencing will occur under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Even if you turn 18 before your trial or sentencing, you will be tried or sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act as long as the offence you are charged with was committed before your 18th birthday.

Accused's Rights

If you are a youth charged with committing a crime, you should be aware of your rights in the youth criminal justice system. Some of these rights include the right to:

  • Be told why you are being charged in a way that you understand
  • Be told what your rights are in a way you understand
  • Talk to a lawyer about your situation
  • Talk to a lawyer, parent or other adult  before you give a statement to police and to have them with you if you decide to give a statement
  • Not answer any questions about the crime and be warned that, if you do say something, it may be used against you in court

The right to a lawyer has special recognition and protection in the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Police, Crown and judges must ensure youth are told and understand they have a right to talk to lawyer. This information must be provided at many stages in the youth justice process. For more information, see Right to a Lawyer.

The youth criminal justice system also provides special confidentiality protections. To learn more, see Protecting Youth Identity and Youth Records.

More Information

For more information, see: