What do you do if your son or daughter is charged with drug possession or drug trafficking in Ontario?
Have you received that dreaded phone call from the police informing you that your child has been caught possessing drugs or trafficking drugs in Ontario? If you have, like most parents, you probably have a host of questions, such as: “Did the police make a mistake?” “What happens next?” “Is there anything I can do to make things better?” “Will my child go to jail?” “Will this have an impact on my child for the rest of his or her life?”
The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) is the statute that sets out the rights and procedures applicable whenever a young person (i.e., a person between the ages of 12 and 18) is charged with a criminal offence, including a drug offence. No one under the age of 12 may be prosecuted or convicted of a criminal offence in Canada and any person 18 or older is considered an adult in Canada and is dealt with as such under the general provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada. The YCJA ceases to apply once a person turns 18.
The YCJA sets out a number of unique rights and procedures affecting any young person charged with a criminal offence. A summary of some of the key provisions is set out below.
Your Son or Daughter has the Right to Counsel in Ontario
Section 25 of the YCJA provides that a young person has the right to counsel throughout the legal process. During an arrest, the officer-in-charge must, before carrying out any further procedure, inform the young person of his or her right to retain and instruct a lawyer. This right is maintained throughout the entire process, and must be provided to the young person in a written statement, and furnished along with any other notices or warrants given to the youth. At court, the youth court justice will also inform the young person of his or her right to obtain counsel. If the young person cannot afford a lawyer, one may be appointed by the Attorney General, through legal aid or by order of the youth court justice.
Your Son or Daughter has the Right to have Adult Present
Section 25 of the YCJA also provides that a young person has the right to be assisted by an adult in Ontario whom the court considers to be suitable if he or she is not represented by counsel at trial or at a hearing.
Notice to Parent of Young Persons must be given
Under Section 26 of the YCJA, upon arrest, the officer-in-charge must inform a parent of the young person’s arrest either orally or in writing. The information must include the youth’s name, the charge, and a statement of the youth’s right to counsel. If a parent cannot be reached, the officer-in-charge must inform an adult relative who can likely assist the young person or, if one cannot be found, any other adult the youth knows who is likely to assist him or her.
Judicial vs. Extrajudicial Measures
Proceedings under the YCJA can be either judicial or extrajudicial. Judicial proceedings are when a young person is charged and brought before a court of law. Extrajudicial proceedings are when the police deal with the matter outside of the court process. Extrajudicial proceedings are generally applied in cases involving lighter offences. In these cases, the police officer may issue a warning or caution, or refer the young person to a community program aimed at preventing the youth from committing further offences.
Although a young person’s right to counsel applies throughout a judicial proceeding, the right only applies up to the point of consideration of extrajudicial sanctions. Accordingly, the involvement of counsel in such considerations can fundamentally affect the sanction(s) imposed since counsel may be able to better negotiate for mitigation by highlighting pertinent legal considerations.
Sentencing of Young Persons in Ontario
The purpose of sentencing under the YCJA is to hold a young person accountable for an offence and to promote his or her rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
A youth justice court has a wide array of sentencing options available to it ranging from a mere reprimand up to a custodial sentence. If your child is convicted of, or pleads guilty to, a drug offence in Ontario, it is imperative that your child retain experienced counsel to ensure that he or she does receives the best outcome available.
Facing a drug charge in Ontario can be a very serious and devastating experience for any young person. Likewise, parents of a young person charged with a drug offence in Ontario can be equally devastated. However, it does not signal the end of your child’s future or have to mean that he or she can never recover. In fact, when properly addressed, the experience can often have a positive effect on your child’s perspective and act as a wake-up call to propel him or her to make necessary changes for success.
The first step is to understand the process and know your child’s rights when facing a drug offence in Ontario. Encourage your child to exercise his or her rights in order to ensure that he or she is treated fairly and achieves the best result. If your child or anyone you know has been charged with a drug offence, don’t delay; call Mark Hogan now for a free consultation, and get the help you need!
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About Mark Hogan – Criminal Lawyer in Mississauga, Ontario
Mark Hogan defends criminal charges such as Assaults, Domestic Assault, Assault with a Weapon, Aggravated Assault, Sexual Assault, Uttering Threats, Forcible Confinement, Criminal Harassment, Bail Hearings, Drug Production, Drug Possession, Drug Trafficking, Fraud, Impaired Driving, Over 80, Refuse to Provide a Breath Sample, Theft, Robbery, and Breaking and Entering in Southern Ontario including Toronto GTA, Mississauga, Hamilton, Burlington, Milton, Brampton, Newmarket, Ajax, Pickering and Oshawa.
If you or your child have been charged with a criminal offence, call Mark Hogan Criminal Defence Lawyer today for a FREE CONSULTATION! Call (416) 716-7157 (24/7).