Several interveners come into action as soon as a 12-17 year old is intercepted by the police. They will meet this young person at different times, depending on the situation.
Read this article to learn more about these people and their role.
Police officers, first to act
Police officers are usually the first to act when a young person is suspected of committing an offense. They are the ones who will intercept him. At that time, they can:
- give him a ticket;
- give him a warning;
- send it to a community organization;
- detain or arrest him;
- give him a promise to appear. This document indicates a date of convocation to the court and conditions to be respected;
- want to question him to continue their investigation.
As soon as the teenager is intercepted, the police contact his parents.
If they question this teenager, they must also allow his parents to be present, unless the youth does not want to.
More information? Read our article Your teen and the police: what role can you play?
The role of the youth delegate
The youth worker is a youth worker who deals with young people in conflict with the criminal justice system. He works in a youth center. In general, he is trained as a social worker, criminologist, psychologist, etc.
It is he who decides whether a young person is eligible for the extrajudicial sanctions program. He chooses with the adolescent the penalty to be fulfilled and determines in what period it will have to be completed.
The Youth Commissioner also plays a role with youth who have been convicted by a court. He participates in writing the report that helps the judge decide the most appropriate sentence for this young person. He also accompanies the teenager on probation.
What is the link between the youth delegate and the DPJ?
In Quebec, the Director of Youth Protection (DPJ) deals with both the protection of youth and adolescents involved in criminal offenses. The professionals intervene in one or the other of these two domains. That is why the Youth Commissioner only deals with young people in trouble with the criminal justice system. It is not him who will be able to make a decision concerning the protection of the child.
The speaker of the alternative justice body
Alternative Justice Organizations (OJAs) are community organizations. They help and support teenagers who have been intercepted for a criminal offense.
OJA stakeholders often work with youth delegates. They can act at different times.
- When a police officer directs a teenager to the OJA, they are the ones who contact the young person and his parents.
- They also accompany adolescents who have to carry out an extrajudicial sanction or carry out the sentence imposed by a judge (community work or mediation with the victim, for example).
To find out more about the OJA, visit the Regroupement des organizations de justice alternative du Québec and the Association des organizations de justice alternative du Québec.
Criminal and penal prosecutor
The criminal and penal prosecutor is the lawyer who represents the state. He is laying charges against people suspected of committing a criminal offense. He is also known as the Crown Attorney.
The prosecutor receives police files after their intervention with the young person. He has the choice to:
- close the file (for lack of evidence, for example);
- lay charges against the young person
- transfer the file to a youth representative.
If he decides to lay charges, he will be present at the court stages.
To learn more, check out our article for youth on the steps in court.
Defense counsel, representative of the accused
A person has the right to consult a lawyer if he is detained or arrested by police officers who suspect that he or she has committed a criminal offense. This lawyer is called the defense lawyer. He represents the interests of the accused and is responsible for his defense.
To learn more about the role of this lawyer, see our article Criminal Offense: Your child has the right to a lawyer.
Does your teenager have to go to court? He has the right to be represented by a lawyer.
The vast majority of adolescents are eligible for legal aid. To learn more, feel free to contact the legal aid office in your area.
And the victim?
It is possible that the alleged offense involves a victim. This is the case when it comes to assault or theft, for example. In general, she is aware of the measures taken against the young person suspected of having committed a criminal offense.
The victim may play a role at certain times in the process.
When the suspected teenager is eligible for the extrajudicial sanctions program.
In this case, the victim is contacted by the alternative justice body. Since the extrajudicial sanction is intended to remedy the act, the victim can have a say in this sanction.
When the teenager goes to trial
The victim can then be summoned to the court to testify.
When the young person is convicted
The victim can be contacted when determining the most appropriate sentence.