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Being tried as an adult

Region: Ontario Answer # 781

Although normally a young person’s trial is held in Youth Justice Court, under certain circumstances, a young person can be tried as an adult in adult court. Being tried in adult court means that a young person will face serious penalties under the Criminal Code, instead of those penalties under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. If you have been charged with a criminal offence, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible.

When can a young person be tried as an adult?

Only certain young persons can be transferred to the adult courts. If you have been charged with a serious offence and you are at least 14 years old, your trial could be moved to adult court depending on the circumstances of your particular case. If you are 16 or 17 years old and you have been charged with murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, or aggravated sexual assault, your trial will automatically be moved to adult court unless your lawyer can convince the judge to keep the trial in the Youth Court.

Before a young person is transferred to adult court, a hearing will be held where the Crown prosecutor and the lawyer for the young person are given a chance to be heard by the judge. The judge will consider several factors when deciding whether to transfer a young person to adult court, such as the seriousness of the offence, public safety, and the need to help the young person.

For more information about young persons and the law in Ontario, visit the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, Youth Justice System website.

For more information about criminal law, being tried as an adult, and the justice system in Canada, visit the Government of Canada, Department of Justice or the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.

Recent Updates to the YCJA

Until recently, with the introduction of Bill C-75, the Attorney General was required to consider whether it would be appropriate that a young person be liable to an adult sentence, before the young person could be tried as an adult.  This is no longer the case.

Get Help

If you have a criminal record and want to erase it, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been charged a criminal offence, contact our preferred criminal law expert, Calvin Barry Criminal Lawyers.

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