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The YCJA Applies to Young Persons Ages 12 to 17 Inclusive


When you go to Court they will ask you for your date of birth.

Since the implementation of the Young Offenders Act in 1984 there has been a great deal of debate about whether Canada's young offenders legislation should apply below age 12 or only up to age 15. Children under age 12 are dealt with already under Ontario's Child and Family Services Act. Prior to 1985 adolescents who had reached their 16th birthday were dealt with as adults in Ontario even if they were considered juveniles up to and including age 17 in Quebec. The equality before the law provisions of the Charter of Rights put an end to that disparity in 1985.


The relevant date is the date of commission of offence. I have defended a "young person" in his mid-twenties charged with a serious offence allegedly committed at about age 15. He was successfully acquitted because of legislation changes over the years and because police had not complied with the rules for taking statements from young persons. The Crown labelled it the "forever young defence" and launched an appeal which was later abandoned. The case triggered an amendment to the YOA and ultimately  the YCJA.


YCJA Excerpts


section 146


When statements are admissible

(2) No oral or written statement made by a young person who is less than eighteen years old, to a peace officer or to any other person who is, in law, a person in authority, on the arrest or detention of the young person or in circumstances where the peace officer or other person has reasonable grounds for believing that the young person has committed an offence is admissible against the young person unless

Section 2 definition:


“young person” means a person who is or, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, appears to be twelve years old or older, but less than eighteen years old and, if the context requires, includes any person who is charged under this Act with having committed an offence while he or she was a young person or who is found guilty of an offence under this Act.



  •  (1) In any proceedings under this Act, the testimony of a parent as to the age of a person of whom he or she is a parent is admissible as evidence of the age of that person.

  • Marginal note:Evidence of age by certificate or record

    (2) In any proceedings under this Act,

    • (a) a birth or baptismal certificate or a copy of it purporting to be certified under the hand of the person in whose custody those records are held is evidence of the age of the person named in the certificate or copy; and

    • (b) an entry or record of an incorporated society that has had the control or care of the person alleged to have committed the offence in respect of which the proceedings are taken at or about the time the person came to Canada is evidence of the age of that person, if the entry or record was made before the time when the offence is alleged to have been committed.

  • Marginal note:Other evidence

    (3) In the absence of any certificate, copy, entry or record mentioned in subsection (2), or in corroboration of that certificate, copy, entry or record, the youth justice court may receive and act on any other information relating to age that it considers reliable.

  • Marginal note:When age may be inferred

    (4) In any proceedings under this Act, the youth justice court may draw inferences as to the age of a person from the person’s appearance or from statements made by the person in direct examination or cross-examination.


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