Adult Sentences For Youth


Story of James
James is now 16 years old and has recently been released from the Youth Detention Centre for crashing a stolen car into a 7-11 store. He is still on probation, where he must attend school, keep a 9 pm curfew and stay out of trouble. He has been smoking marijuana in excess 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, mischief, and three counts of theft under $5000.

Legal background

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.

Assuming that James lives in BC, answer YES or NO to the following questions:

  1. Would the Crown be seeking an adult sentence in this case?
  2. According to the YCJA, would the Crown have to give notice if it was seeking an adult sentence?
  3. Does the fact that James is 16 years old protect him from receiving an adult sentence?
  4. Would James have to persuade the court that he could be held accountable through the imposition of a youth sentence?
  5. Could James elect to have a trial by a judge and have a preliminary inquiry?

ANSWERS: 1) YES; 2) NO; 3) NO; 4) YES; 5) YES;