Sentencing Options

When a youth has entered a guilty plea or has been found guilty of a criminal offence, the judge can impose a sentence that includes one or more of these options:

  • Discharge: No conviction on the charges. The youth may receive conditions (such as probation) or an absolute discharge, with no criminal record.
  • Judicial Reprimand: A serious warning from the judge.
  • Fine or Compensation: The youth may have to pay a fee, return goods or provide other reparations.
  • Community Service: The youth may be required to provide up to 240 hours of work in their community.
  • Conditional Sentence/Probation: The youth will receive certain conditions that limit their behaviour. The youth will be required to report to a probation officer for up to 2 years.
  • Custody: There are a range of custody options for youth. This may include living in the community with a strict curfew, being under house arrest, living in a secure facility (such as a youth detention centre) or jail time.



Custody is the harshest form of sentence available because it means removal of freedoms. Under the YCJA, other sentencing options must be considered first for all youth. When a judge does sentence a youth to be in custody, they must explain why other options were not chosen.

A youth cannot be held in custody unless:

  • The youth committed a violent offence
  • The youth has committed a serious crime where adults may be jailed for 2 or more years
  • The youth has a history of criminal activity and extrajudicial measures have not been successful in reforming youth actions
  • The youth has been found guilty of failing to comply with multiple sentences and this failure created harm or risk to the public
  • In exceptional cases, where a non-custodial sentence would be inconsistent with the purpose and principles as set out in the YCJA

Before a youth completes their time in custody, the YCJA says that a youth worker must be involved. The youth worker will talk to the youth and make a plan for returning to the community that outlines positive programs for the youth.

Last Reviewed:
May, 2022
Reviewed by: