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Young Offenders and Terrorism

In a recent article posted by, research showed that post 9/11, approximately 50 people were charged with terrorist activity in Canada. Half of those arrests lead to convictions. A notable number of these individuals were minors.

Currently, terrorism charges lead directly to criminal charges, and the full range of consequences under criminal legislation. However, there is a movement to allow young offenders charged with terrorism to be afforded the penalties offered in the Youth Criminal Justice Act instead.

A recent case in Ontario involved two suspects charged with terrorist activity. However, one of those suspects was a minor. The question was raised again - does the legal process against terrorist activities change now that a minor is involved?

The reason behind raising this question is because of the concern that a minor may not fully understand what he or she is doing, why he or she is doing it, and what the impact of his or her actions might be.

That is the purpose of having separate legislation to govern the discipline, rehabilitation and consequences for youths charged with criminal offences. In many cases, enduring an alternative consequence as opposed to severe incarceration allows youths to set themselves on a better path.

Heading directly to jail for an extended amount of time has the potential to turn a youth from someone who made a mistake into a lifelong criminal. However, it is worth noting that not all youths are able to reform.

If you have been charged as a youth with a crime, it’s crucial that you seek legal guidance promptly. For many youths and their families, a youth crime is their first experience with the legal system. It’s essential that an experienced criminal defence lawyer explain to you how the law applies to your situation, and what options you can pursue for a defence.

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