Community Legal Information Association of Prince Edward Island (CLIA PEI) - Legal Information for Youth

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Crime and Justice

In Canada, we have a law called the Youth Criminal Justice Act. This law guides police, lawyers, court staff, judges and other people when responding to a young person who commits a crime. This law applies to all young people in Canada who are 12 to 17 years old. Once a person turns 18, he or she is considered an adult and adult laws apply to them.

Children under the age of 12 cannot be charged with a crime. If a young person under the age of 12 does something that would be considered a crime if he or she was older, it is understood the young person needs help. In this case, the young person and his or her family may be given help by child protection workers or mental health workers. An example of a mental health worker is your school counsellor.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act says that judges, court staff, and other workers in the justice system must be aware of a young person's gender, culture and race. This is to make sure every young person gets support that meets their needs. For example, an Aboriginal young person can be referred to the Aboriginal Justice Program which provides culturally sensitive services.