Juvenile crimes are set apart from adult crimes simply by the fact that they are under the age of eighteen. If juvenile crimes were committed by an adult, then an adult would face adult penalties in Ontario. It would be a mistake for a parent to assume that if their son or daughter commits a crime and they are under the age of eighteen, that it is not serious. This is simply not always the case and exactly how a child’s case is handled will vary depending on the nature of the crime and the age of the juvenile.
Penalties for Youth Crimes in Ontario
Although normally not as severe as adult convictions, penalties can still be significant for youth crimes, including juvenile detention, heavy fines, and required counseling. Your child’s education may also be affected if they have been ordered to find an alternative school or have been expelled. Convicted juveniles also often encounter problems traveling abroad, renting property, getting a driver’s license, obtaining credit, and finding gainful employment.
In many circumstances, a skilled legal defense lawyer can negotiate an alternative to incarceration, or will seek to have the charges dismissed or withdrawn altogether, and save the young adult from a criminal record. This becomes more difficult for repeated offenses, if it begins to appear to the courts that the youth’s history displays a lack of interest in avoiding a life of crime.
National Service : There is a growing cry to re-introduce National Service. Can this be an option? Forcing an 18 year old to join the Armed Forces for a set period would certainly enforce the concept of discipline within them. Believe me, you really have no choice but to learn to do as you are told and to follow the rules otherwise, ever-increasing penalties may be imposed and it is generally not long before you begin to realize that if you confirm you start to have a better life and more freedom.
Three Strike Policy : This is used in several countries whereby if you continue to commit offenses, by the third time you come before the courts you face a statutory punishment irrespective of personal circumstances. This works because the person concerned knows that they have already been before the Justices twice and therefore they know that the next time, there is a Statutory Punishment coming their way, for example, it could be a form of National Service as previously mentioned say for a period of 12 months or perhaps a 3 month army course run rather like Boot Camp.
Zero Tolerance : This type of policy has had tremendously positive results in most places where it has been tried including New York (murder capital of the world) and where the crime rate was astronomical. One or two forward-thinking police chiefs have instigated such a policy with generally good results in this country too, but it probably needs to be taken further. It is no use incarcerating someone under this policy unless there are specially designed holding units for them, just sending them to a normal prison is likely to be counter-productive because they are simply going to be mixing with much more hardened criminals who will teach them even more in criminal behavior.