Helping your child after they've been charged with a crime

  • Getting and working with a lawyer
  • What's your role as a parent?
  • Youth Criminal Justice Act
  • Extrajudicial measures, or out-of-court procedures
  • How can your child participate in a Restorative Community Conference

The youth justice system is guided by Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The act applies to children who were between 12 and 17 years of age when they committed an offence.

  1. Getting and working with a lawyer

    If your child is taken into custody or arrested, you'll need to hire a criminal lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer understands the courts and the law, and can help you and your child go through the whole process.

    What if you can't pay for a lawyer?

    If you can’t afford to pay for a lawyer’s services, your child can apply for Legal Aid.

    Phone: 867-667-5210

    After-hours phone: 867-633-7200.

    What if you can't get a lawyer right away?

    Duty counsel will help your child get through their 1st appearance. Duty counsel are lawyers who:

    give free legal help to people appearing in court without their own lawyer; and
    do not take the place of your child's own lawyer. 

    Your child’s lawyer works for your child

    Even though you may be paying the bills, the lawyer’s client is your child.

    • Client confidentiality rules apply.
    • Your child has to give their lawyer permission to share with you information they've discussed.
    • You can ask the lawyer any question, but they might not be able to give you an answer.

    How does a lawyer help your child?

    A lawyer will:

    • help to prepare the defence, for example, pleading innocent or guilty;
    • present your child’s case to the judge in court;
    • ensure that the legal process is followed and a fair trial is obtained; and
    • the lawyer helps your child get the best possible result even if they're found guilty.

    When working with your lawyer

    You and your child:

    • should consult a lawyer before your child speaks with police; and
    • need to be honest with the lawyer so they can better understand your circumstances.

  2. What's your role as a parent?

    If you're in court with your child this can show the judge that your child is cared for and supported at home. It might mean the difference between being held in custody or being allowed to stay at home before sentencing.

    Sections 26 and 27 of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) may assist to define your role as a parent.

    You'll be notified orally or in writing:

    • if your child is arrested;
    • where they're being detained;
    • and why they were arrested.

    You will be notified in writing of:

    • any summons;
    • appearance notice;
    • promise to appear;
    • undertaking or recognizance; and
    • a ticket under the Contraventions Act if the whereabouts of the your child are not known, or if it appears that no parent is available.

    The police or court will notify:

    • an adult relative; or
    • another appropriate adult known to the child, and who is likely to help.

    What if you don't hear from the police or courts?

    Failure to give you a notice does not affect the validity of proceedings for your child. A notice can be for:

    • appearance;
    • promise to appear; or
    • undertaking or recognizance issued.

    However, failure to give you notice of a summons for your child can invalidate any further proceedings relating to the case.

    You won't hear from police or courts if your child turns 20 years old before their 1st court appearance

    What if the Youth Justice Court orders you to be at the proceedings?

    You have to go to the proceedings if Youth Justice Court says so. If you do not go, you have to have a reasonable excuse, otherwise, you'll:

    • be guilty of contempt of court; and
    • be liable to punishment for a summary conviction offence under the Criminal Code of Canada; and
    • a warrant may be issued to make you attend the proceedings.

  3. Youth Criminal Justice Act

    The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) is a federal act. It focuses on your child being:

    • rehabilitated;
    • reintegrated; and
    • taking responsibility for their actions.

    The act involves families and communities in the youth justice process. 

    YCJA declaration of principles

    The YCJA Declaration of Principles are used to interpret all aspects of the act. The principles state that measures taken against your child must:

    • reinforce respect for societal values;
    • encourage the repair of harm done to victims and the community;
    • be meaningful for your child given their needs and level of development;
    • where appropriate, involve you, the extended family, the community and social or other agencies in rehabilitation and reintegration;
    • respect gender, ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences;
    • respond to the needs of Indigenous youth; and
    • the needs of youth with special requirements.

  4. Extrajudicial measures, or out-of-court procedures

    A sentence or judge's order will be relative to:

    • the offence; and
    • to your child’s role in the offence.

    Extrajudicial measures, or out-of court procedures:

    • allow for action that focuses on correcting behaviour;
    • intend to encourage your child to acknowledge and repair harm done to a victim or community; and
    • may include families, members of the community, and victim(s) in deciding and carrying out the extrajudicial measures.

    Extrajudicial sanctions (EJS)

    The Government of Yukon authorizes EJS. These are programs that monitor your child's actions for righting the wrong. The programs are available in Whitehorse through the Youth Justice Panel, and in a number of other communities.

    To participate, your child must:

    • accept responsibility for the offence; and
    • agree to take part in the process.

    Before agreeing to EJS, your child has the right to consult and be advised by a lawyer.

    When are sanctions used?

    When a warning, a caution or a referral is not appropriate for your child because of:

    • the seriousness of the offence;
    • previous offences; or
    • other matters.

    Some extrajudicial measures

    The RCMP can:

    • take no further action;
    • give a written or verbal warning, and parents or guardians may or may not be involved;
    • give a police caution which is a formal warning, most likely a letter to you and your child, that may be followed by a meeting at the police detachment; or
    • refer your child to a community program, or agency for counselling.

    The Crown can:

    • issue a Crown Caution, if the police referred the case; or
    • assign extrajudicial sanctions.

    If your child doesn't complete the terms of the EJS, the case may proceed through the court process.

  5. How can your child participate in a Restorative Community Conference

    A victim can request a conference only when your child is accepting responsibility for the harm they caused.

    A Restorative Community Conference helps to reduce repeat offending. Victims can:

    • tell their story;
    • identify and talk about their needs; and
    • be involved in finding a way the harm can be repaired

    The conference can strengthen communities.

    Who can be referred?

    • A child 12 to 17 years old.
    • A child accepting responsibility for their actions in criminal matters.

    RCMP can make direct referrals under the Youth Criminal Justice Act Section 6.

    Who is involved?

    • Your child
    • You family
    • Victims of crime
    • The community

    What happens during a conference?

    Your child, the victim(s) or their representative(s), supporters for both, and other people affected by the event sit in a circle. They talk about the:

    • the harm;
    • the impact of the harm; and
    • how to repair the harm.

    How long does it take?

    • The process can take as little as 2 weeks, or as long as a few months.
    • There will be meetings with offenders, victims, and people who'll support through the process.
    • The conference itself can last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours.
    • All the participants determine the outcomes (decisions) of a conference.

    How can you get involved?

    The Restorative Community Conference Program helps communities develop crime-prevention initiatives by giving training:

    • Restorative Justice: Principles, practices and implementation; and
    • Facilitating Restorative Community Conferences training

    To find out about training phone 867-667-3610 or toll free in Yukon, Nunavut and NWT 1-800-661-0408 extension 3610.


If you have question or phone 867-667-3610, or toll free in Yukon, Nunavut and NWT 1-800-661-0408 extension 3610.