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

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Crime and Justice

Youth Court

Crime and Justice

























Sometimes out-of-court measures are not adequate to hold a young person responsible for their actions. In these cases, the young person will go to youth court. In some cases, the young person chooses to go to youth court rather than using out-of-court measures.

When a young person, 12 or older, goes to court, he or she must enter a plea. A person may plead either:

  • Not guilty - the young person says he or she did not commit the crime the judge has read in court, or
  • Guilty - the young person says he or she did commit the crime the judge has read in court.

If the young person pleads guilty, the judge will ask some questions. If the judge is satisfied that the young person understands the charges and the consequences of the plea, the judge will sentence the young person. Sentencing may happen on the same day or at a later date.

If the young person pleads not guilty, a trial will be held. The Crown Attorney (the lawyer who represents the Queen and the Canadian public) has to prove to the judge, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the young person committed the crime.

Both the defense lawyer and the Crown Attorney may call witnesses. Witnesses are people who tell the court what they know about the crime or the accused young person. Each witness is usually questioned by both lawyers. The young person and his or her lawyer decide whether the young person will go on the witness stand.

Once all of the evidence has been examined and all of the witnesses have been questioned, the judge will make his or her decision about whether the young person is guilty or not guilty. If the judge finds the young person not guilty, he or she is free to go. If the judge finds the young person guilty, the judge will either sentence the young person immediately or will adjourn the case and set a future date for sentencing.