Youth Sentencing Options

In Depth 2

What types of sentence options exist under in the YCJA?
When a youth has entered a guilty plea or been found guilty of an offence in youth court, the judge can impose one of the following sentences:

  • Absolute Discharge: This means that even though a youth has been found guilty, there is no conviction registered against the youth. This is no longer accessible from the youth's record after one year.
  • Conditional Discharge: This means that youth will have to follow conditions, and if they do so, their discharge will become absolute. If they do not follow the conditions, they can be brought back to court for a tougher sentence. If the conditions are met, this is no longer accessible from their record after three years.
  • Judicial Reprimand: This means that the youth receives a stern lecture from the judge in a minor case where being apprehended, taken to court and being reprimanded is enough to hold the youth accountable for the offence.
  • Fine: This can be ordered for an amount up to $1000.00 for a youth. The judge will consider the youth's ability to pay, and also the time the youth might need to pay when ordering this sentence.
  • Restitution: This means that if the youth took something from someone and still has it, they can be ordered to return it.
  • Compensation: This means that the youth will be ordered to pay the victim of the crime for his or her loss such as the cost of repairs, the cost of replacing the goods, medical bills, or lost wages. Youth could be ordered to compensate a third party.
  • Community Service: The judge will consider the youth's time, abilities, and the offence, and will make an order for the youth to do work in the community. The youth will not be paid for this work. The order will tell how many hours they must do and how long they have to complete it. They can be sentenced with up to 240 hours of community service with one year to complete it.
  • Probation: This means the judge will order the youth to abide by certain conditions and to report to a probation officer regularly. The officer’s job is to watch the youth's behaviour so that the youth can receive help. If the youth does not follow the rules in the probation order, the YCJA allows for a review and possible changes to the probation order to ensure that the conditions are realistic and effective. The maximum length of a probation order is two years.
  • Intensive Support and Supervision Program ("ISSP"): This means that the youth is subject to closer monitoring and more support than under a probation order. This is to assist in changing the youth’s behaviour.
  • Intermittent Custody: If the youth is sentenced to custody for no more than ninety days, they may be able to serve it intermittently (not all in a row). For example, the youth may serve the sentence on weekends so that he or she can attend school during the week.
  • Deferred Custody and Supervision Order: This allows the youth to serve the sentence in the community under conditions, often including a strict curfew or house arrest, instead of being sentenced to custody. If the youth violates the conditions he or she will be kept in custody. This sentence is not available if the youth has been found guilty of a serious violent offence.
  • Custody and Supervision: The youth is given a custody (jail) sentence. The youth's time in custody must be followed by a period of time of supervision and support in the community. "Closed custody" (also known as "secure custody") means being held in a youth jail. "Open custody" means being held in a different type of youth facility with fewer restrictions and conditions.  Generally one-third of the sentence will be served under supervision in the community.
  • Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision ("IRCS"): This is a special and rare sentence for a serious violent offender. This sentence is a period of custody with mandatory treatment, followed by a period of conditional supervision and support in the community. The judge can impose this sentence if:
    • The youth has been found guilty of one of the presumptive offences (e.g. murder)
    • The youth is suffering from a mental or psychological disorder or an emotional disturbance
    • An individualized treatment plan has been developed for the youth and there is an appropriate program available to which the youth is suitable for admission.

What are consecutive and concurrent sentences?
A consecutive sentence means that if a youth has more than one conviction the judge can order that each sentence is served consecutively (one after the other). A consecutive sentence means that you would be in custody longer or on probation longer than with a concurrent sentence. A concurrent sentence means that if a youth has more than one conviction the judge can order that each sentence is completed concurrently (at the same time).