The Youth Criminal Justice Act: Summary and Background

This report was published by the Department of Justice, Canada.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act is the law that governs Canada’s youth justice system. It applies to youth who are at least 12 but under 18 years old, who are alleged to have committed criminal offences. In over a century of youth justice legislation in Canada, there have been three youth justice statutes: the Juvenile Delinquents Act (1908–1984), the Young Offenders Act (YOA) (1984–2003), and the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) (2003–present). A set of amendments to the YCJA was adopted by Parliament in 2012.

The purpose of this document is to explain the background of the YCJA, to provide a summary of its main provisions and the rationale behind them, and to highlight the experience under the YCJA.

Department of Justice, Canada. (2013). The Youth Criminal Justice Act: Summary and Background. Public Works and Government Services of Canada. Retrieved online:

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