Legal Rights of Youth


  • The police have the right to stop a youth and do a search if they have reasonable grounds to believe the youth committed a crime. The police can briefly detain a youth if they are investigating a crime and reasonably believe the youth is connected to the crime.
  • The police can search a youth upon arrest. They may also have grounds to search the youth’s bags or vehicle if they reasonably believe that the search is necessary for safety, to protect evidence from being destroyed or to discover evidence related to the crime.
  • If the police detain a youth they may conduct a pat down search to ensure there are no weapons that could hurt the officer .
  • Youth do not have to consent to a search but they should not physically resist a search. Simply say “I do not consent”. If you think you were improperly searched, talk to a lawyer.
  • The police must advise a youth that has been arrested or detained of his/her rights and make sure that the youth understands his/her rights.
  • The rights to remain silent, to know the reason for the arrest, and to retain counsel are important protections for youth.
  • Youth are generally entitled to have counsel and a parent or a responsible adult present when questioned by the police.
  • Youth can waive their rights under the YCJA.
  • Youth charged with an indictable offence can be fingerprinted and photographed.
  • Youth are entitled to pre-trial release with the exception of public safety issues, failure to appear concerns or unless the youth commits a serious offence, or has a pattern of outstanding charges or findings of guilt.
  • Youth are entitled to legal counsel at arrest, at trial and when an extra-judicial sanction is being used.
  • Youth have the right to be dealt with in a timely manner.
  • Youth have the right to a trial to determine guilt before an adult sentence is considered.
  • Sentences should respond to the needs of Indigenous youth and youth with special requirements.
  • The province may set up a program to recover costs of legal counsel from the youth or his/her parents.