This paper reviews the leading Charter decisions about youth in the criminal justice system, first examining cases in which youth are charged with offences, and the n considering cases that deal with the m as victims and witnesses. The focus is on Charter jurisprudence, with some discussion of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and its impact on interpreting the Charter and Canadian legislation. The Canadian courts have recognized that youth have a special status in the criminal justice system, one that is reflected in legislation and international law and that should also be reflected in the interpretation of the Charter. In the context of their relationships with police and in the youth courts, this has meant that judges have recognized that youth are entitled to special protections, and hence should be granted enhanced rights under the Charter compared to adults; the courts have also upheld the constitutional validity of legislation that affords youth special protections. In other contexts, however, the courts have held that the special vulnerability of youth means that adult caregivers, such as parents and school officials, have special powers in regard to the m; accordingly, the Charter has also been interpreted in a way that has limited the rights of youth, in the belief that this is necessary to protect their interests. Perhaps the most important case to consider the special constitutional nature of youth, R v. B. (D.), will be decided by the Supreme Court only after this paper has been published. It is argued that its prior decisions suggest that the Court will continue to recognize that youth is a distinct phase of life that is entitled to special recognition under the Charter by placing an onus on the state to establish why a young offender should be treated as an adult.
"Youth as Victims and Offenders in the Criminal Justice System: A Charter Analysis — Recognizing Vulnerability."
The Supreme Court Law Review: Osgoode’s Annual Constitutional Cases Conference
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