Highlights

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  • In 2010/2011, the number of cases completed in Canada's youth courts declined for the second year in a row, down 7% from the previous year. There were over 52,900 cases completed in youth court, involving over 178,000 charges.
  • The decline in youth court cases occurred in every province, with the exception of Manitoba. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island reported the largest declines, down 15% and 13% respectively.
  • The majority (73%) of cases completed in youth courts involved non-violent offences. The most common cases completed in youth courts in 2010/2011 were for theft (15%), Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) offences (11%), and break and enter (8%).
  • For most offence types, the number of cases completed in youth courts remained stable or decreased in 2010/2011. However, there were some individual offences which saw an increase in the number of cases from the previous year, namely criminal harassment (+13%), breach of probation (+7%) and failure to appear (+3%).
  • Cases completed in youth courts were more likely to involve older youth (those aged 16 to 17) as accused (60%), compared to younger youth (those aged 12 to 15) (40%). Youth court cases were also more likely to involve males (77%) than females (23%).
  • Over one-half of youth court cases (57%) resulted in a finding of guilt in 2010/2011. The proportion of guilty decisions varied by offence, with cases for youth being unlawfully at large resulting in an outcome of guilt most often (90%).
  • Probation continued to be the most frequently ordered sentence for youth in 2010/2011, accounting for over one-half (58%) of all sentences imposed in guilty youth court cases. The median length of probation sentences ordered in youth court was 365 days.
  • In 2010/2011, 16% of guilty youth court cases were sentenced to custody. Cases of attempted murder (78%) and being unlawfully at large (72%) were sentenced to custody most often.
  • The use of custodial sentences for youth has decreased over the past 10 years, falling from 29% in 2000/2001 to 16% in 2010/2011. However, there has been a slight increase in the proportion of cases being sentenced to deferred custody and supervision since it became a sentencing option under the YCJA.
  • In 2010/2011, the median length of custodial sentences imposed by youth courts was just over one month, at 35 days.
  • Compared to 10 years earlier, youth court cases took longer to process in 2010/2011. The median elapsed time from first to last court appearance was 113 days in 2010/2011, over a month longer than the median elapsed time of 70 days in 2000/2001.
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