The Youth Justice Committee Program is an alternative to formal court proceedings. A youth and their parent(s) or guardian will meet with a committee of community volunteers and the victim. Together they will negotiate meaningful ways or “sanctions” for the youth to repair the harm caused.
For youth aged 12 to 17.
What is a Youth Justice Committee?
A Youth Justice Committee is made up of community volunteers (up to three) who meet with the young person and their parent(s)/guardian to work out a way to make amends for what they did. The victim(s) may also choose to be there. Both the youth and the victim(s) can bring people to support them. The community volunteers will help everyone talk about:
- Harm caused
- Impact to the victim and the community
- Ways to make things right.
Everyone must agree to the sanction(s), which are tasks that the young person will complete, and can include:
- An apology
- Volunteer Work
- Donation to Charity
- Attending a program or presentation.
Once the sanctions are completed, the police will not lay charges, or the charge(s) will be withdrawn by the court.
Youth, 12 to 17-years-old, qualify if the offense is minor and police or the Crown decide they are eligible for the program.
How is a young person referred?
Either police, at the time of the investigation of the offense, or the Crown, at the time of the first court appearance, will direct the youth to meet with a Youth Justice Committee Coordinator who will explain the program and decide if the young person meets the requirements to participate.
You can also ask your lawyer or Duty Counsel if you are eligible. You should get advice about your rights, the benefits of the program and the legal implications of participating.
What are the requirements?
To be considered for the program a youth must be willing to:
- Accept responsibility for the actions that led to the charge
- Meet with a Youth Justice Committee and complete agreed upon “sanctions”
How long does it take to complete the program?
Youth Justice Committee Program cases are usually completed within three months of referral. It can depend on how much time the youth needs to complete the sanction(s).
Is participation mandatory?
The program is completely voluntary for both youth and victim(s). If you are not accepted into the program or do not complete the program, your case will be returned to the court or referring police service.
Is there a cost to participate in the program?
No, there is no charge. Youth may be expected to pay the victim for damaged or stolen property or donate to charity.
Is a record kept?
Although there is no conviction, a record is kept for two years. It can be brought forward if the young person re-offends within two years, even after they turn 18.
Youth Justice Committees Provide:
- A voice to the victim in the process and an opportunity for them to express how the offense has affected them and what they need to make things right.
- An opportunity for youth to get a better understanding of their actions and the impact of their behaviour on the people they harmed, their parent(s) and the community.
- Opportunity for communities to become directly involved in the administration of youth justice.
- Timely and meaningful resolution to offending behaviour that avoids victims and witnesses having to go to court.
Supported by the
Government of Ontario