Teens in Trouble With the Law: What You Need to Know

Myriam Delisle

A teen is brought home by the police— every parent’s nightmare! What will happen next? How can they help their child? What are the possible consequences?

Teens suspected of a crime are not treated as adults. The law says children 12 to 17 must answer for their crimes, but it also encourages their rehabilitation. And parents are encouraged to support their child throughout the process.   

 

Alternatives to Court

Several outcomes are possible, depending on the teen’s situation and the seriousness of the crime. As much as possible, the youth criminal system tries to avoid a court process.

 

Workers in the Youth Criminal System

Teens don’t go through the criminal justice system alone. Throughout the process that follows their arrest, they will meet different professionals.

 

The Role of Parents

The law says parents must be told about any measures or legal action taken against their child. Parents are encouraged to support and accompany their child throughout the process.

 

Responsibility of Parents

Parents are not accused of the crimes their child commits, except in rare cases. But parents might be taken to court in a civil case and ordered to pay for the harm their child caused.   

 

Consequences for the Teen

There are consequences for teens who are arrested, but teens are not treated as adults.

 

Resources

If Your Child is in Trouble with the Law – Department of Justice Canada

Legal Aid

Caught by the Police? What Happens Next?