The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) applies to young persons charged with criminal offences that are between the ages of 12 and 18. One of the most important aspects of the YCJAis the sentencing provisions for young offenders. Sentencing under the YCJA is much more favourable since the courts recognize the diminished moral blameworthiness of young offenders.  However the Crown does have the option in some cases of applying to the court for an adult sentence.

Prerequisites and Notice

The Crown can only seek an adult sentence if certain prerequisites are met. First an adult sentence can only be sought if the young person was at least 14 years old at the time of the offence. Also it must be an offence that an adult would be liable to a term of imprisonment of more than two years. Most importantly the Crown must give notice before they seek an adult sentence.

The Application

In order for an adult sentence to be imposed, the Crown must satisfy the judge of two things. First the Crown must show that the young person does not have diminished moral blameworthiness. Second the Crown must show that a youth sentence would not be appropriate to hold the young person accountable.


If the judge orders an adult sentence be imposed, there are some serious consequences to the young person. The sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code are much more punishing than the YCJA. An adult sentence creates a permanent criminal record unlike a youth sentence which may become sealed or destroyed after a certain period of time.

Youth Criminal Lawyer

If you or your child has been charged with a criminal offence, it is important to hire not only a criminal lawyer but a criminal lawyer with experience in youth matters. Give Drexler Law a call at (519) 804-1799 or inquire by email for a free consultation.