Youth Sentencing Options

In Depth 1

What must a judge consider before deciding on a youth sentence?
The judge must consider the purpose and principles of sentence as set out in s. 38 of the YCJA and the declaration of principle in s. 3 of the Act.

What additional information may a judge request during the sentencing process?
A judge may want additional information, which may be obtained from a variety of sources:

  • The presence or absence of a criminal record
  • The lifestyle of the offender
  • Attitude, history and circumstances of the offender
  • The impact on the victim
  • The gravity of the offence
  • The circumstances concerning the commission of the offence

What sources can the judge use to get additional information?

  • Circumstances of the Offence. The judge will learn about the circumstances of the offence:
    • Through the witnesses who testify if there is a trial
    • Through the reading of the facts of the case by Crown if there is a guilty plea
  • Pre-Sentence Report. This written report is prepared by a probation officer and states the age, education, family support, employment, health problems, addictions, the history of extrajudicial measures or extrajudicial sanctions, and previous convictions of the offender. See Section 40 of the YCJA. It may include:
    • Interviews with the young person and with people close to the offender, such as family, friends, a teacher or employer.
    • The results of an interview with the victim
    • Recommendations from any conference held
    • The willingness of the youth to make amends and to make plans to change
  • Medical, Psychiatric or Psychological Report. The judge may, at any stage of the proceedings, require by order that the youth be assessed by a qualified person, such as a medical doctor or psychiatrist. This qualified person is required to report the results of the assessment in writing to the court. See Section 34 of the YCJA
  • Conference. When a youth is found guilty, the court may convene or cause to be convened a conference under Section 19 for recommendations to the court on an appropriate youth sentence. See Section 41 of the YCJA
  • Victim Impact Statement. The judge shall consider the victim impact statement, which must be in written form and made by the person to whom harm was done or be made by a person who suffered physical or emotional loss as a result of the offence. If the victim is deceased, ill or incapable of making the statement, then a relative of that person may make the statement. See Section 42(1) of the YCJA