When teens under 18 commit crimes, the law provides ways they can be held accountable without putting them through the traditional court process. An extrajudicial sanction is one of these ways.
If you’re under 18, have committed a crime and are wondering whether you will get an extrajudicial sanction, read this article. It explains these things:
- What is an extrajudicial sanction?
- How does an extrajudicial sanction let you make up for the harm you caused?
- Who decides whether to give you an extrajudicial sanction? How is the decision made?
- What happens after you’ve made up for the harm you caused? Will you have a record?
Extrajudicial Sanctions: Repairing the Harm You Caused
Extrajudicial means outside the court. An extrajudicial sanction is something you will have to do to make up for your crime without going through a traditional court process.
An extrajudicial sanction gives you a chance to repair the harm you caused the victim, if any. The victim has a say in the sanction you get.
For example, you might have to send the victim a written apology or take part in a mediation session with the victim. A mediation session is a meeting you have with the victim. Each of you can talk about what happened and decide what you can do, if anything, to make up for the harm you caused.
What if there was no direct victim or the victim wants nothing to do with you? In that case, you could be asked to give back to the community by doing up to 120 hours of community work.
Or you might have to take part in a program that makes you think about the harm you caused.
Who Decides and How?
Different people will study your case to decide whether an extrajudicial sanction is the best way to deal with your case.
To explain this, let’s go one step backwards. When you were arrested, the police might have decided that extrajudicial measures did not fit your crime, so they sent your file to the criminal and penal prosecuting attorney.
1. The Criminal and Penal Prosecuting Attorney
The criminal and penal prosecuting attorney, often called the prosecutor, is a government lawyer. This lawyer brings criminal cases to court against people accused of crimes.
The prosecutor will study your police file. She will decide whether there is enough proof to take the case further. Depending on how serious the crime is, the prosecutor can do these things:
- officially accuse you of one or more crimes
- send your case to a youth worker
Is this your situation?
Important! You might have to go in front of a judge before your case is sent to a youth worker. This is called an appearance. You will be officially told what crimes you are accused of. And you will have to give your answer to each accusation: guilty or not guilty. The appearance is not a trial.
2. The youth worker decides whether an extrajudicial sanction is best in your case.
Youth workers are professionals who work with teens who are in trouble with the law. They work in youth centres. They decide whether teens who have committed crimes should get an extrajudicial sanction. You might have to meet with a youth worker. Your parents can go with you.
The youth worker studies your case. Before deciding whether to give you an extrajudicial sanction, the youth worker has to be sure of these things:
- You admit that you committed the crime. You cannot get an extrajudicial sanction if you say you’re innocent.
- You agree to get an extrajudicial sanction. You must agree freely. This means you must fully understand what it means to get an extrajudicial sanction. And you must not feel forced or pressured to agree.
- You were told that you have the right to a lawyer.
- You were given the chance to speak with a lawyer before you agreed to the sanction.
If the youth worker thinks that an extrajudicial sanction is the best way to deal with your case, your file will be transferred to an Organisme de justice alternative or OJA (alternative justice organization) in your area. This is a community organization that works with teens who are in trouble with the law, as well as with victims of crimes.
3. An OJA will help you through the process.
If you got an extrajudicial sanction, an OJA will help you. A professional will meet with you to explain what you have to do. Your parents can go with you to the meeting.
If you decide not to complete the extrajudicial sanction, you might have to go through a traditional court process and get a punishment, called a “sentence”.
After You Repair the Harm You Caused
Your case will be over once you completed the extrajudicial sanction. You will not have to go through a traditional court process.
- If you received a notice to appear or similar document and appeared in front of a judge (an appearance), you or your lawyer will have to go back to court to ask that your court case be closed (dismissed). You can also ask the police department to destroy your fingerprints. A lawyer can help you with this.
- If the judge gave you specific conditions (orders), you must continue to obey them until the court dismisses your case.
Will You Have a Record?
You will have a record. Information about you will be kept in a few places.
The police, the prosecutor, the youth centre and the OJA will keep information about you, your crime and the sanction you received.
Some people will be able to see this information for two years. The information can be used if you commit another crime.
To learn more, read our article Impact of Having a Youth Record.
Have you committed a crime? Learn what can happen.
Alternatives to Court
Going to Court
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.