Impact of an Arrest on a Teen’s Future

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Your minor child was arrested and is suspected of committing a crime. How will the arrest affect your child’s future?

  • Will your child go to jail?
  • Will there be a criminal record?
  • Will it affect your child’s education, job or travel plans?


Important! Different rules might apply to teens 18 or older who are accused of crimes they committed when they were under 18. Consult a lawyer to learn more about this situation.    


Different Treatment for Teens 

A special law applies to teens 12 to 17 who are in trouble with the law. This law assumes that teens do not have the same level of maturity as adults. So, the law creates a special criminal system for teens. The goal is to help teens return to the community.

The law creates a special multi-step process for teens and special ways they can answer for their crimes.

  • The teen might avoid a criminal court case. Instead, the teen might get an extrajudicial measure or an extrajudicial sanction. For example, the teen can be given a warning or ordered to do community work.
  • The teen might have to go through a trial in a criminal court case. At the end of the trial, the teen might be found guilty or not guilty. If found guilty, the teen will get a youth sentence. Teens’ sentences are usually not as strict as adult sentences.

Teens found guilty might have their freedom taken away. But this kind of sentence is usually given as a last resort.

Teens under 18 are never sent to an adult prison. Instead, they are placed under supervision in a youth centre. They can attend school at the youth centre or, sometimes, at a regular school.

Important! In some cases, teens receive the same sentence as an adult would get for the same crime. But these cases are rare, and teens under 18 will never be put in a prison with adults.     


Youth Record 

A teen suspected of committing a crime will have a youth record. Information will be kept in different places for specific amounts of time.


Files in Different Places

The police create a police report after they arrest a teen. Other types of information might also be kept, for example, if the teen receives an extrajudicial sanction or goes to trial.


Only a few people can see a teen’s record. For example, your neighbour cannot show up at a police station and ask to see their files to check whether your child has ever committed a crime.  

Youth records cannot be accessed after a period of time. The length of time depends on each case. It has nothing to do with whether the teen has turned 18.


Impact of a Youth Record

Having a youth record can affect a person’s education, career and travel plans. Here are some examples:

  • For some education programs, schools can ask students whether they have ever been in trouble with the law.
  • For some jobs, employers can check whether a person has a youth record.
  • Some countries will not allow people to enter if they have committed specific types of crimes.
To learn more, read the articles in our Youth Zone What Is a Youth Record? and Impact of Having a Youth Record.    

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.