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I am a minor charged with a crime, now what?

Reviewed by
Nov 3, 2021

If a person is 12 to 17 years old and is charged with a crime, the Youth Criminal Justice Act applies. The YCJA is a Canadian law that guarantees the rights of young people in the criminal justice system. You can read more on the YCJA website.

The law applies to youth between the ages of 12 and 17. A child under the age of 12 cannot be charged with a crime. At age 18, a person is considered to be an adult and will go to trial in adult court.

You have a right to have a lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, a Legal Aid lawyer will be provided to you. Remain silent until you speak to a lawyer. Ask for a lawyer as soon as possible and speak to your lawyer at every step in the criminal process. If a youth goes to court without a lawyer, a duty counsel (lawyer paid by the government) will be there to help.

When a youth is arrested or held at the police station for questioning, the police must tell the youth’s parents about the arrest. The parents are also told about the youth’s right to have a lawyer.

Legal Aid BC provides lawyers for people who have been charged criminal. You can contact Legal Aid to inquire about getting a lawyer to represent you.