Teaching Youth Justice

Lesson 3.4: Sentences under the YCJA

This lesson begins a multi-lesson exploration of what happens if a young person is found guilty of a crime. Students will learn about the types of sentences that a Judge can impose on a young person convicted of a criminal offence in Youth Justice Court, and the principles to be applied in creating that sentence.

Teacher Background Information
Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, youth sentences are to:
hold a young person accountable for an offence through the imposition of just sanctions that have meaningful consequences for the young person and that promote his or her rehabilitation and reintegration into society, thereby contributing to the long-term protection of the public.
The purpose of youth sentences is to hold the young person accountable for the offence committed. The YCJA gives a Youth Justice Court Judge a wide range of choices in sentencing. It is important to remember that all reasonable alternatives to custody must be considered. The choices
available include:

  • a reprimand of the young person (This is a firm scolding from a Judge.)
  • an absolute discharge (There are no further consequences for the young person.)
  • a conditional discharge (A conditional discharge is similar to an absolute discharge except that the Judge sets conditions that the offender must fulfill. If the young person satisfies the conditions, the discharge becomes absolute and there are no further consequences for the young person.)
  • a fine of up to $1,000 (The young person’s ability to pay is taken into account.)
  • paying a victim a sum of money, compensating them “in-kind” or performing personal service, as compensation for property loss, personal injuries, or loss of income
  • personal service to compensate the victim for any loss, damage, or injury
  • a community service order (This would require the young person to perform a specified amount of work for the community not to exceed 240 hours, and to be completed within 12 months.)
  • order of prohibition, seizure, or forfeiture
  • probation (This is for up to two years; conditions may include a requirement that the young person attend school, maintain a particular residence, keep a curfew, or not have contact with certain individuals.)
  • referral to a provincially-run support and supervision program (This option is not available in Saskatchewan but there is a similar option available through the intensive probation program.)
  • attendance order requiring the young person to attend a program at specified times (This option is not available in Saskatchewan but it may be addressed as part of a probation order.)
  • deferred custody and supervision where a young person stays in the community under conditions set by the Youth Justice Court Judge; failure to comply with the conditions can result in the terms being changed or the young person being ordered to serve the remainder of their sentence as a custody and supervision order (This option is not available to a young person sentenced for an offence that caused or attempted to cause serious bodily harm.)
  • custody and supervision order, involving a period of time in custody, followed by a period of supervision in the community to assist with the transition from custody back to the community; maximum sentences vary:○ for most offences where custody is appropriate, a maximum of two years, with 2/3 of the sentence usually being served in custody and 1/3 being served in the community...
    - where the Criminal Code provides for a possible life sentence for an adult, a maximum sentence of three years, usually with at least 2/3 of the sentence being served in custody
    - for first degree murder, a maximum of ten years, of which at most six years is in custody (unless the prosecutor applies to increase the custodial portion)
    - in the case of second degree murder, a maximum of seven years, of which a maximum of four years is in custody (unless the prosecutor applies to increase the custodial portion)

1. Using the Teacher’s Background Information, lead a discussion with students on what they know about the options for sentences if a youth is found guilty of a crime. Several of these options will be explored in greater detail in coming lessons.

2. Distribute Youth Sentences to read as a group, and then lead class in completion of corresponding questions.

3. To illustrate how Judges acquire the information they need to make their sentences appropriate, read Pre-sentence Reports.

  • How can the information contained in a pre-sentence report help the Judge accomplish the sentencing goals of the YCJA?

Youth Sentences


Pre-Sentence Reports


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