What happens now?
What is a Youth Justice Committee?
What is the Extrajudicial Sanctions Program?
Why did I get referred to a Youth Justice Committee?
What makes me eligible for the Extra Judicial Sanctions Program?
What are the benefits for me and my family of a Youth Justice Committee?
What happens when we go to the “Panel Hearing”?
What will they ask my parents?
What sort of “consequences” will I be assigned?
What happens if I don’t work on the assigned consequences?
How do I contact the volunteers who were on the Panel?
What happens after I complete the consequences listed on the agreement?
What happens if I do not complete the consequences listed on the agreement?
Will a youth record harm my ability to travel out of the country?
Where can I learn more?

I was just charged under the Youth Justice Act.

What happens now?

You are referred to a Youth Justice Committee. They will call you to set up a date to meet with them. They will explain the program to you.

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What is a Youth Justice Committee?

A Youth Justice Committee is made up of citizens who live or work in your community. They volunteer to work with young people in conflict with the law, as well as their families, victims, the legal system and the community. Their job is to find appropriate, meaningful consequences for the crime that you committed. In Calgary, there are 23 Youth Justice Commit­tees that serve 180 communities.

They are interested in supporting you and trained to assist the government in administering the Extrajudicial Sanctions Program.

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What is the Extrajudicial Sanctions Program?

Formerly known as the Alternative Measures Program (AMP), the Extrajudicial Sanctions Program is an alternative to the court system for young people aged 12 – 18 who have committed a less-serious type of offence. The young person is diverted from the court system and instead, appears before a Youth Justice Committee in their community who is authorized to deal with the young person and their crime.

Section 18 of the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act provides an opportunity for citizens to become directly involved in the administration of youth justice by forming Youth Justice Committees (YJCs).

For further information, see Extrajudicial Sanctions Program, Government of Alberta.

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Why did I get referred to a Youth Justice Committee?

The police consider the least intrusive response to youth crime, while holding young people accountable for their actions. The Crown attorney also responds to youth crime in the least intrusive manner. When a warning, caution, or referral is thought to be inadequate to deal with a young person (because of the seriousness of the crime, the nature and number of previous offences, or any other aggravating factors), the police or Crown attorney can utilize the Extrajudicial Sanctions program.

Getting referred to the Extrajudicial Sanctions Program is a privilege extended to you and provides you with an opportunity to deal with your offence outside of the court system. A youth criminal record will be automatically expunged after a two year period (if you commit no further crimes).

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What makes me eligible for the Extra Judicial Sanctions Program?

  • You have committed an eligible offence,
  • You accept responsibility for your actions, and
  • You agree to participate in the program

What are the benefits for me and my family of a Youth Justice Committee?

It gives you the chance to speak for yourself. It provides the opportunity for you to avoid a criminal record (your youth criminal record will be automatically expunged after a two year period, if you commit no further crimes). It encourages family support and provides an opportunity for parents to seek support and access resources in parenting.

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What happens when we go to the “Panel Hearing”?

A volunteer will contact you and your parents and set up a time and date for a “Panel Hearing”. There will usually be three volunteers at the hearing. At this interview, which usually takes about one hour, Panel members will ask you to tell them what happened. They will ask questions about your home, school, and social life in order to understand the circumstances surrounding the incident. They will ask about special interests, activities and goals you might have.

You should ask your parents/guardians or a responsible adult to go with you to the hearing.

Panel members will determine consequences in private or with you and your parents present. You will be required to sign an agreement stating that you will complete the consequences within the given time frame.

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What will they ask my parents?

Panel members at the hearing may ask your parents how they have been affected by the offence.  The panel may ask for your parents’ interpretation of your behavior, any consequences you were assigned at home, and what consequences they consider appropriate for you. They may ask about any concerns that your parents have about you.

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What sort of “consequences” will I be assigned?

Consequences will be logical and meaningful to you. These are examples of consequences:

  • A letter of apology
  • Community service (to a maximum of 60 hours)
  • An essay or poster
  • A donation to a charity (to a maximum of $200)
  • Restitution to the victim (to a maximum of $1,000)
  • Referral to a cultural or religious program, if appropriate
  • Referral to a program

Consequences chosen are not to be more severe than a youth court judge would hand down; adequately hold the young person accountable for their behavior; uphold the rights and freedoms of both young person and victims; be the least intrusive form of sanctions while protecting the community; and involve the community were possible.

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What happens if I don’t work on the assigned consequences?

Contact one of the volunteers to discuss any difficulties you are having in completing the consequences. It is your responsibility to complete the terms of the agreement. The agreement made between the Youth Justice Committee and you is meant to ensure that you accept responsibility for your actions, and assume the responsibility to successfully complete the Extrajudicial Sanctions Program. If you do not, the Committee will make every effort to support you in completing them.

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How do I contact the volunteers who were on the Panel?

The green sheet, which is a copy of the agreement you signed, will have a name and phone number on it. If you cannot find it, go to the page on the Calgary Youth Justice Society website which has the Calgary map. Click on your community and through this link, you will be able to send an email to the Youth Justice Committee that you met with.

Alternatively, you can contact the Extrajudicial Sanctions Coordinator at the Calgary Youth Attendance Centre at (403) 297-8659 if you are unable to find contact information for your Youth Justice Committee. All Young Persons’ files are referred from the Crown Prosecutor’s Office to the Extrajudicial Sanctions Coordinator and they will know which Youth Justice Committee you were referred to.

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What happens after I complete the consequences listed on the agreement?

The Panel members will follow up with you to ensure that you have completed the assigned consequences, and return your file to the Crown attorney at Youth Court.

If a judge has referred you to the Extrajudicial Sanctions Program, this is referred to as a “post-charge” referral. In this case, you still must attend your next court date, even though you successfully completed the Extrajudicial Sanctions Agreement.

Since you have successfully completed the Agreement, the criminal charge will not proceed, or if already laid, will be withdrawn in court and the youth criminal record will be automatically expunged after a two year period (if you commit no further crimes) and there will be no formal youth criminal record.

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What happens if I do not complete the consequences listed on the agreement?

You are considered as unsuccessful in the Extrajudicial Sanction program. Your file is returned to the Crown attorney who will most likely continue with legal proceedings. If the matter is dealt with in youth court, and you either plead guilty or are found guilty, you will get a criminal record. This record stays with you for a minimum of 1 year for an absolute discharge and up to 3-5 years or more, depending on the seriousness of the offence and the length of the sentence from the court.

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Will a youth record harm my ability to travel out of the country?

A youth record won’t stop you from travelling within Canada, but it can stop you from travelling to other countries. Some countries – including the United States – won’t let you in, even for a visit, if you have a record.

A record is anything that contains information created or kept for the purposes of the Youth Criminal Justice Act or for investigating an offence that could be prosecuted under the Act. Almost any contact with the justice system creates a record. This includes arrests, charges and sentences. A record may contain information provided by family members, neighbours, school authorities and victims.

Records for most criminal offences are sent to the RCMP who share the adult records with police and border officials of other countries. One of the biggest differences between the youth justice system and the adult justice system is that young people’s privacy is protected and their personal information kept confidential. Access to your youth record is restricted except in very limited circumstances. However, if another country does obtain the information, they may decide to keep it in their files well after the access period. Only in Canada does a youth record have to be closed after a certain time.

Any record, no matter how minor the offence, can keep a person from getting into other countries. For example, in the United States, it is often up to the individual border guard where you are crossing to decide whether you get in. If a person has a youth record and it has been shared with the U.S., it is impossible to know when he/she might be refused entry. The U.S. is one of the countries where a person may need a travel waiver to enter if they have a record. It is best to verify with the immigration office of the country before visiting.

Youth records in Canada are sealed or destroyed after a specific period of time has passed, as long as the youth has not re-offended. As well, during the period that the record is open, only certain people are allowed access to it.

For more information, see Youth Records.

What young persons say about Youth Justice Committees –

  • “Thanks for everything. I appreciate what the youth justice committee has done for me. Believe me, I learned!! Keep up the good work.”
  • “It cares about kids.”
  • “It made me think about what I did.”
  • “Very understanding, fair.”
  • “It is a great program! I will never commit another crime again.”
  • “I think, if there is not already, every community should have a youth justice committee.”

(Quotes taken from an Alberta Justice Survey – September 1999)

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Where can I learn more?

There are several videos and presentations available to learn more about the Calgary Youth Justice Society as well as the process.

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