When is my Child Old Enough to be Charged with a Crime?

On your child’s 12 birthday he or she is officially old enough to be charged with a criminal offence. From the age of 12 until they turn 18, any criminal charge they face will be dealt with through the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Once they turn 18, the criminal justice system considers them an adult, and the more lenient provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act no longer apply.

It is important to note though that while the Youth Criminal Justice Act encourages courts to deal with children charged with criminal offences differently than adults, your child may well still be facing significant and lasting consequences if charged with a criminal offence. As such, if your child is charged, it is important that the situation be taken seriously from the get go and that as a parent you seek legal advice for you and your child before taking any action.

When your children turns 12, it is a good idea to speak to them about the ways in which their behaviour may now be treated differently. Whether it be a fight at school where the principal calls the police, or some candy stolen from your local convenience store, at 12, your child could face a criminal charge for what would have only been considered misbehaviour when they were 11.


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