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In 2008/2009, youth courts in Canada processed 58,379 cases, involving 191,054 charges. Although similar to the overall caseload from the year before, the number of cases was 23% lower than that in 2002/2003, the year prior to the enactment of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The largest decreases occurred within the first two years of the YCJA. Since 2004/2005, the youth court caseload has remained relatively stable.
Youth court cases are taking longer to process. In 2008/2009, the median elapsed time from first to last court appearance was 119 days, over a month longer than the median elapsed time of 81 days in 2002/2003.
Cases with a finding or plea of guilt accounted for 59% of cases disposed of in youth courts in 2008/2009. The proportion of guilty findings varied by offence, with the highest being 90% for cases where the youth was accused of being unlawfully at large.
Fewer youth court cases received a custodial sentence in 2008/2009 with 5,307 or approximately 15% of all guilty cases resulting in a sentence of custody compared to 13,237 or 27% of all guilty cases in 2002/2003.
In 2008/2009, nearly half of the cases with custody and supervision had terms of 1 month or less (48%).1
Probation continues to be the most frequently ordered sentence for youth, with 20,747 or 60% of guilty youth cases receiving this sentence in 2008/2009. However, this proportion is 10 percentage points lower than in 2002/2003, the year prior to the enactment of the YCJA.
- In this report, the sentence length referred to represents both the custodial and supervision portions of the custody and supervision order.
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