Teaching Youth Justice

Lesson 3.2: First Appearance

This lesson will explore court procedures in more depth through an explanation of the process of first appearance.

Teacher’s Background Information: Innocent until Proven Guilty
It is a basic principle of our law that an individual is presumed innocent until the Crown proves that they are guilty of an offence. An accused person has a right to have the case against them heard in a court of law. A “not guilty” plea simply means that the accused requires the Crown to prove its case against them. The Crown is required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the evidence and the facts establish the guilt of the accused and do not show any other sensible
explanation of the events. The requirement to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is because of the serious nature of convicting a person of a crime.

1. Introduce students to the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Ask students why they believe that the Crown should be required to prove an accused person’s guilt rather than the accused person being required to prove their innocence.

2. As a class, lead group reading of First Appearance.

  • Why should young people have the guarantee that a lawyer will help them when adults do not have that same guarantee?
  • Given the high cost of lawyers, should all adults be entitled to this guarantee as well?

3. Ask students to answer the following question in a brief writing assignment:

  • How does the absolute right to counsel in Youth Justice Court meet the intent and principles of the YCJA?

Students will need to look back to their handout Philosophy and Principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act from Lesson 1.3 to complete this assignment.

First Appearance


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