Story of James
James is 16 years old. He has recently been released from the youth detention centre for crashing a stolen car into a 7-11 store. He is still on probation. He must go to school, keep a 9 p.m. curfew, and stay out of trouble. He has been smoking a lot of marijuana since his release from the centre.
James and a friend break into a house to steal some money for drugs. During the break-in, the homeowner arrives and surprises them. As James flees, he kills the homeowner. James is later found guilty of manslaughter.
James has a criminal history which includes:
- Auto theft
- Break and enter
- Three counts of theft under $5000
- Offenders, aged 14 years and older, may receive an adult sentence if convicted of serious violent offences punishable by more than two years in jail for an adult.
- An adult sentence is presumed if a young person is convicted of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, aggravated sexual assault or if they are convicted of a third offence that a judge has ruled as a serious, violent offence.
(Source: New Directions in Youth Justice: "Story of James" p.27)
Answer the following questions, assuming that James lives in British Columbia:
- Could James be tried as an adult? YES or NO
- Does the fact that James is 16 years old keep him from getting an adult sentence? YES or NO
- Is it up to James to persuade the court that a youth sentence could hold him accountable or responsible? YES or NO
- Could James choose to have a trial by a judge and have a preliminary inquiry if an adult sentence is sought? YES or NO
Find out the answers.
Answers: 1) NO; 2) NO; 3) YES; 4) YES