Cases & Decisions

R v DB [presumption of youth sentence, onus on Crown for adult sentence]

Court: Ontario Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada, 2006

D.B. is a young person who was found guilty of manslaughter and given a youth sentence.  The sentencing judge declared unconstitutional the sections of the Youth Criminal Justice Act which make it a presumption that the youth would get an adult sentence and have his identity published. The Crown appealed the decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal. Justice for Children and Youth was made an intervener in the appeal and argued that the sentencing judge was correct. The Court of Appeal in a unanimous decision held that those sections of the Act were unconstitutional because it is a principal of fundamental justice under section 7 of the Charter that youth be dealt with in a separate youth justice system. They decided that the Crown had to prove whether an adult sentence was appropriate and not that the young person had to prove why they should remain in the youth system.

The case was appealed to the Supreme Court. JFCY was granted standing at the hearing which took place on October 10, 2007. The Court released its decision on May 16, 2008 dismissing the appeal and finding that it is a principal of fundamental justice that young people be presumed to have diminished moral culpability in the criminal justice system.  It also held that the onus was on the Crown to establish that an adult sentence was warranted as this would be a harsher penalty for the young person.

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