Lesson 7: Youth Criminal Justice Act - Sentencing and Records


Grade Level 8-10
Duration 1-2 periods; if a simulation is performed, it may take three periods


The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) includes the principles that judges should consider when imposing sentences on youth.  Students will learn about these principles and youth sentencing options that can be used.  They will become the “judge” in working with a number of scenarios to decide on an appropriate sentence for the young offender. 

Students will have the opportunity to do a sentencing hearing simulation on an actual case.  Information on youth and adult records as well as publication of the name of the offender is also covered in this lesson.


At the end of this lesson students will:

  • Understand principles of sentencing under in the Youth Criminal Justice Act
  • Decide on an appropriate sentence for a young person
  • Understand that minor crimes can be dealt with outside the court process. In court, the judge has many sentencing options besides custody
  • Understand how judges decide to give a custodial sentence
  • Understand what a judge must consider such as a pre-sentence report and victim impact statement
  • Learn about the sentencing options available and the sentencing hearing
  • Learn about the way in which a victim can have input at sentencing
  • Recognize that special protections are available for Aboriginal youth
  • Be able to explain the goal of rehabilitation and reintegration
  • Understand in what circumstances youth are given adult sentences
  • Understand the law regarding publishing the names of young offenders
  • Understand what youth records are, who can keep them, who can access them, what it means to have a youth record and the rules for destroying youth records

Focus Questions

  1. What are the sentencing principles under the Youth Criminal Justice Act?
  2. What are the sentencing options for a judge to use?
  3. What are appropriate sentences for youth?
  4. What type of information can a judge consider before giving a sentence?
  5. What happens at a sentencing hearing?
  6. When are adult sentences imposed on youth?
  7. When can the identity of a young offender be published?
  8. What is a youth record? How is it different from an adult record?
  9. What is the impact of a youth record?
  10. How long does a youth record last?

Teaching Summary

Topic 1: YCJA Sentencing Principles and Topic 2: Youth Sentencing Options

For these topics the students will be given information in the form of handouts and will work on case scenarios. They will learn to apply that information by coming up with an appropriate sentence for the young offender in the case. They may also participate in a sentencing hearing simulation to have an idea of what may happen in court. They will have an opportunity to see a pre-sentence report and a victim impact statement-two tools used by a judge when imposing a sentence.

Topic 3: Adult Sentences for Youth and Topic 4: Publication of Identity of Offender

Students will examine cases and be asked to comment on an adult sentence given to a young offender and whether or not the name of a youth should be published.

Topic 5: Youth and Adult Records

Students will look at the provisions regarding records, if a youth record can turn into an adult record and the practical effect of having a record especially if one is travelling to other countries. They will also learn about the time limits for when they can be closed or destroyed.