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If I'm charged with a crime, will my name be published in the paper?

The general rule is that no person is allowed to publish your name or any information that would identify you if you are being dealt with under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.  There are some exceptions if you are convicted of a crime, for example, your name can be published if:

  • you receive an adult sentence,
  • you have received a youth sentence for a violent offence and the judge thinks there is a  risk you may commit another violent offence.  The judge could allow your name to be published if it is necessary to protect the public.
  • information is published as part of the administration of justice, and is not made known in the community.  For example, your name may be on court documents seen by employees of the court.
  • you ask the court to make an order to allow your information to be published.  The judge will only allow this if he or she is satisfied that it is in your best interests or the best interests of the public.
  • the police ask the court for an order to publish your name because they have reason to believe you are a danger to others and publication is necessary to help bring you into custody (such orders last 5 days).

Your name can also be published once you turn 18 if you agree to publication or you publish the information yourself as long as you are not in custody at the time of publication.

Will my name be published if I am a victim or a witness?

No, the rule is that, if you are under 18, and are a victim or witness in a youth offence your name or any information that could identify you, cannot be published.

For example, your parents name would not be published if it might lead to identifying you.

You are allowed to publish the information after you reach the age of 18 or before that age if your parents consent to the publication.  The court can also allow you to publish the information if it is satisfied that it is not against your best interests or the public interest.

Can people talk about my charge and identify me on Facebook?  What about if I am the victim?

It is an offence to publish information that could identify you as someone charged with a crime as a young offender or as someone involved as a victim.  This includes identification through social media sites such as Facebook. Any person who breaks this law could get up to 2 years in prison. 

The same rule applies if you are under 18 and are a victim of or witness in a youth offence.

Youth Records

What is a Youth Record?

If you have been dealt with using extrajudicial measures, or have been found guilty of an offence, you will have a youth record. 

A youth record keeps track of information collected about you if you are being investigated for a youth offence and during any proceeding related to the offence.   For example, a record could typically include your name, birth date, the charge, action taken by police (such as a warning or a caution), sentence given, photographs, fingerprints, medical reports and so on.

There are four different types of records:

  • Youth Court Records
    This record keeps track of information relating to your case in youth court.  This includes information kept by the court and review boards.  (When the court makes a decision about you that deals with custody and supervision, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed by an independent group of people who make up a review board)
  • Police Records
    If you are charged with a crime the police can also keep records of information relating to their investigation.  This includes information about extrajudicial measures, the charge, photographs and fingerprints.

    Information in your police record can be sent to the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) if you are charged with a crime for which an adult would also have their information sent to CPIC.  If you are found guilty of an offence the police are required to send this record to CPIC.  Information in CPIC can be used to identify criminal offenders.
  • Government Records
    Government records contain information collected by a government agency or department.  Information collected can be used for investigating a criminal charge. It includes any information used:
    • in a proceeding against you
    • for sentencing
    • to decide what extrajudicial measure will be used or the result of any extrajudicial measures used to deal with you.
       
  • Other Records
    Another person or an organization can keep information about you regarding the use of extrajudicial measures or for the purpose of carrying out a youth sentence.

Who can see my Youth Record?

The YCJA restricts who is allowed to see your youth record.  However, the following people may have access to your youth record:

  • You
  • Your parents
  • Your lawyer
  • The victim
  • The coroner or child advocate who is acting in relation to their employment
  • The police, a judge, the court, the Attorney General
  • Directors of correctional facilities if you are serving a sentence in custody
  • Some government agencies and staff (for example, Statistics Canada or a privacy officer)
  • A person carrying out a criminal record check as a part of their government job.

In addition, a youth court judge can allow access to your record to anyone he or she thinks has a valid interest in your record, as long as the judge is satisfied that it is desirable for public interest, research or statistics or for the proper administration of justice.

How long will I have a Youth Record?

How long a record remains open depends on the offence you committed, the sentence you get, and whether you commit another offence while the record is still open. The period during which a record is open is called the access period. Once the access period ends, youth records are sealed and/or destroyed. However, if someone over the age of 18 with an open youth record commits another crime, the youth record will become part of that person's adult record.

The table in following link sets out the access periods for a record depending on the type of offence and how the offence is dealt with:

Source: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/yj-jj/ycja-lsjpa/sheets-feuillets/recor-dossi.html

So I have a youth record.... What does that mean?

A youth record can make getting a job that much more difficult.  If you are applying for a job or want to volunteer somewhere you might be asked for a criminal record check.  

A potential employer can ask you to provide proof that you have no record, the employer cannot ask the police for a criminal  record check without your agreement, but they can decide not to give you the job if you refuse a criminal record check.

Some universities, colleges or trade schools will ask for a criminal record check before they will admit you.  This could mean that you might not be accepted into certain schools.

What if I want to travel?

Only in very rare situations will other countries be able to see your youth records. If Canada is party to international agreement relating to criminal matters your record could be disclosed.  A customs officer in a different country might become aware of your record simply by asking the right questions.   

Certain countries may keep this information in their own records permanently. Having a criminal record could lead to another country refusing to allow you to enter, no matter how minor the offence was.

Website Material

What is the Youth Criminal Justice Act? (YCJA)

The Youth Criminal Justice Act was created in 2003 by the Canadian Government to deal with young people aged 12-17 who are involved in the criminal justice system. It is separate from the adult system. In 2012 Bill C-10 The Safe Streets and Communities Act came into effect.  This Bill made changes to the YCJA which are reflected in the information on this website.  As a youth you have special rights under the YCJA.

Principles of the YCJA:

The YCJA is intended to protect the public by

  • holding young people accountable using ways that are proportionate to the seriousness of the crime and the degree of responsibility of the young person
  • promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of young persons who have committed crimes, and
  • supporting the prevention of crime by referring young persons to programs or agencies in the community to address the circumstances underlying their offending behaviour

The Act focuses on:

  • rehabilitation and reintegration, fair and proportionate accountability that is consistent with the greater dependency of young persons and their reduced level of maturity,
  • enhanced procedural protection to ensure that young persons are treated fairly and that their rights, including their right to privacy, are protected,
  • timely intervention that reinforces the link between the offending behaviour and its consequences, and
  • the promptness and speed with which persons responsible for enforcing this Act must act, given young persons' perception of time.

What are Extrajudicial Measures?

Extrajudicial Measures are ways, other than formal court procedures, used to deal with youth who get in trouble with the law.  They are typically used when your behavior is non-violent, and you have never been in trouble with the law before, but can still be used in more serious circumstances if appropriate.  Often this is the most effective way to address youth crime. 

A police officer, taking into account the nature and seriousness of the offence, will consider:

  • taking no further action
  • giving you a warning
  • giving you a formal caution, or,
  • with your consent, referring you to a program in the community that will help keep you out of trouble.

Extrajudicial Measures cannot be used against you in court as evidence of your prior criminal behaviour.

What are Extrajudicial Sanctions?

An extrajudicial sanction is part of the Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Program.  A Sanction is used when it is inappropriate to deal with you by using a warning, caution or referral.  This program is run throughout the province by eight community justice agencies.  This program allows for young persons, victims and others to develop ways to make up for the harms caused by crimes. They are used as an alternative to a formal court process.

An extrajudicial sanction can be used to deal with a young person who has been charged with a crime when an extrajudicial measure would be inappropriate because of the seriousness of the crime, or the nature and number of previous crimes you have been involved in or other aggravating circumstances.  

You have to accept responsibility for the crime in order to be eligible for extrajudicial sanctions and you have to freely consent to participate in a restorative justice program.  If you deny involvement in the crime you cannot take advantage of this program.  You always have the choice of a formal court process in youth court.

What is Youth Justice Court?

Youth Justice Court is a court that deals specifically with young people who are alleged to have commited criminal offences.  Judges who are appointed as youth court judges deal specifically with young people. 

Do I have the right to have a lawyer?

Yes.  Every young person has the right to a lawyer at any stage in their legal proceedings.  If you are arrested or detained by a police officer he or she must explain the charge against you and advise you of your right to have a lawyer and explain to you how to get one. You can call a lawyer from the police station.

You can have a lawyer with you if you decide to tell the police what happened. You should talk to a lawyer before deciding to say anything about what happened to the police.

If you are charged with a criminal offence and are in court without a lawyer, the judge will give you an opportunity to get one.  

Will my parents know I've been arrested?

If you are arrested or detained, the officer in charge will tell your parents you have been arrested, where you are being held and the reason for your arrest.  If the police are unable to get a hold of your parents, they will give notice to a relative or another adult who will help you.

If I am charged with a crime, will they keep me in custody?

Generally young people are not held in custody before trial or sentence.  However, the judge can decide that you will be held in custody if:

  • you have been charged with a serious offence or you have a history that indicates a pattern of being in trouble with the law (i.e. outstanding criminal charges or findings of guilt under the YCJA);  and
  • if the judge thinks that detention is necessary to ensure your attendance in court, to protect the public or, in exceptional circumstances, to maintain public confidence in the justice system; and
  • if there are no conditions of release that could be imposed on you that would address the judge's concern about your attendance in court, the protection of the public, or the public's confidence in the justice system.

It is the responsibility of the Crown Attorney (the lawyer prosecuting you) to satisfy the judge that you should be kept in custody.

If I plead guilty or am found guilty of a crime, what happens?

Once you have taken responsibility for the offence or have been found guilty, you will be sentenced.  A sentence is meant to hold you accountable for your actions by imposing meaningful and just sanctions that will help protect the public, promote your rehabilitation and reintegration and help you become a productive member of society. 

When considering your sentence youth court must take into account the following factors:

  • your part in the crime
  • the harm caused to victims
  • anything you have done in the community or for the victim to make up for your crime in a positive way
  • any time you have already spent in detention as a result of the crime
  • any previous findings of guilt
  • anything else that the court thinks would be relevant, whether it be your positive or negative actions.

What is a Pre-sentence Report?

Before you are sentenced your lawyer or community worker will write a pre-sentence report.  This report will include information from an interview with you, and if possible your parents and your extended family.  It will talk about your age, maturity, character, behaviour, your attitude and if you are willing to make right the crime you have committed.  It will also talk about what you want to do in the future and how you plan on improving your behaviour.

The report will also look at your previous youth record, if you have one, your relationship with your parents, your school attendance and performance and any other information that would help the court in deciding what the most appropriate sentence would be for you.

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