Youth court statistics in Canada, 2013/2014: highlights

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  • In 2013/2014, Canadian youth courts (involving 12- to 17-year-old accused) completed almost 40,000 cases, representing a 12% decline from the previous year. The number of completed cases in youth courts was the lowest number of completed youth court cases since these data were first collected more than two decades ago.
  • Most provinces and territories reported a decline in the number of completed cases, with the exception of Yukon (+17%) and the Northwest Territories (+2%), which reported increases. Prince Edward Island recorded the largest decrease (-25%) in youth court cases.
  • The majority of completed youth court cases in 2013/2014 involved non-violent crime (71%).
  • The most common Criminal Code youth court cases were theft (12%), common assault (9%), and break and enter (8%).
  • Almost all types of completed youth court cases decreased between 2012/2013 and 2013/2014. Some of the largest declines were for cases involving disturbing the peace (-35%), impaired driving (-25%) and robbery (-18%).
  • Males represented 78% of all accused persons appearing in youth court in 2013/2014. In addition, regardless of gender, most (62%) youth court cases involved those aged 16 or 17 years at the time of the alleged offence.
  • In 2013/2014, 56% of all cases completed in youth court resulted in a finding of guilt. New Brunswick had the highest proportion of guilty findings (77%), while Ontario had the lowest (45%).
  • Custody sentences were imposed in 15% of guilty youth court cases in 2013/2014, which is down from 22% in 2003/2004. The imposition of custodial sentences has been offset somewhat by sentences to deferred custody and supervision (imposed in 5% of cases in 2013/2014), since the latter was introduced as a sentencing option in 2003 with the introduction of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA).
  • The median length of custodial sentences was 80 days for violent offence cases, 45 days for property offences, and 18 days for administration of justice offences. Only 2% of cases received a custody sentence of one year or more.
  • Probation continued to be the most common type of youth court sentence (58%) in 2013/2014. The median length of probation sentences was about 1 year (360 days).
  • The median length of time taken to complete a youth court case increased to 120 days (about 4 months) in 2013/2014, while it was 114 days the previous year.
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