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Youth Criminal Justice – Detention

What is detention?

If you have been arrested, detention is a place where you can be held until your case comes up in court. You will not be allowed to go home until the court says so. You can be detained if the judge or justice of the peace believes it is necessary to protect the public or to make sure you come to court when you have to.  A judge cannot put you in detention for your own protection, because you have a mental illness, are in need of a place to live or need social services.

If the offence you are charged with is not serious enough for you to be sentenced to custody then the judge should not place you in detention while you wait for your case to be heard.

However, if the judge decides you should be detained until your case is heard, they need to first find out if there is a responsible adult who would take care of you and help you get to court. If there is and you agree to go with this person, then the judge may release you to their care.  If no one can be found or you do not want to go, then you will be held in detention.

If you have already been to court and you have been found guilty, you might also be held in detention until the judge makes a decision about your sentence.

Where can I be detained? 

Usually you will be held in a place designated for young people. You may be held in:

  • A facility with doors that are locked all the time,
  • A facility that has areas where you can be locked up.
  • A facility where the doors are not locked, or
  • The custody of a responsible adult.

Can I ever be held in the same place as an adult while I am under 18? 

You will generally be held in a place separate from where adults are being held. Where separate buildings are not available, you may be held in the same building as adults but must be separated. Also, a court can give permission for you to be held in the same place as an adult. The court may do so because:

  • It is not safe to keep you in a place for young people, or
  • No place for young people is available nearby.

What happens if I turn 18 before my young offender case is heard? 

If the judge decides you should be detained until your case is heard, the provincial director can apply to the court to have you held in an adult facility. If this happens, you have a right to voice your opinion.

What happens if I turn 20 before my young offender case is heard? 

If the judge decides that you should be detained until your case is heard, you will be held in an adult facility, and you do not have the right to voice your opinion.

Will my parent(s) find out that I am being held in detention? 

Yes. As soon as possible after you are arrested and detained, the police contact your parent(s). They will tell your parent(s) where you are and why you are being detained.

If the police detain me, does this mean I will remain in detention until my trial? 

Not necessarily. If you are detained after your arrest, the police must bring you before the court within 24 hours or as soon as possible to have the court decide on whether to release you or continue to detain you until your trial. This is called a bail hearing.

What will happen at my bail hearing? 

The crown attorney must show the judge why you should remain in detention because, you will not show up for court unless you are detained, or you will probably commit another crime if you are released. For example, if you have been charged with a more serious offence, if you have other previous charges or if you have previously failed to appear.

How can the prosecutor do this? 

By showing that:

  • You will not show up for court unless you are detained, or
  • You will probably commit another crime if you are released.

What happens if the prosecutor cannot convince the court that I should be kept in detention? 

The judge must let you go after you have signed a form promising to be in court on a certain date.

Will I have to promise to meet other conditions before I am released? 

You might. These conditions could include:

  • Reporting to a youth worker,
  • Staying in town,
  • Staying with your parent(s) or another specified person,
  • Not having any contact with certain people,
  • Attending school or going to work,
  • Staying away from a certain place or area, like a shopping mall, or
  • Agreeing that you or someone else will pay some money to the court if you do not show up at the next court hearing.

If I’m not released at the hearing, how long can I be kept in detention? 

You may be kept in detention until your case is heard in court. If you feel your case is moving too slowly, ask your lawyer to try to speed things up.

What if I think I have been wrongfully detained or detained too long or I want the conditions of the release changed? 

You may apply to a judge for a review of your situation. Contact your lawyer for advice on how to do this. You can also tell the worker in the detention home or the superintendent that you want your situation reviewed.

What if I am being treated badly or there are other problems where I am being detained? 

You have rights in detention. You have the right to have your basic needs met, the right to recreation, the right not to be physically disciplined and rights relating to the use of segregation as well as other rights. If you have any concerns or questions you have the right to call a lawyer or a child and youth advocate.

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