Getting legal help

Youth criminal law

Getting Legal Help

Youth who are charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) are tried in youth court. A youth is a person who is under 18 years of age.

Legal Aid Ontario provides legal services for youth whose parents or guardians meet eligibility requirements, including:

Duty counsel

Do you have a court date, but still need a lawyer? Read about our duty counsel program.


Representation by a lawyer – the certificate program

Your legal matter must be one that Legal Aid Ontario covers, and your parent or guardian must qualify financially to get help through the certificate program. The certificate program, which helps clients pay for a lawyer’s services, is only for the most serious and complex cases.


Your rights to legal counsel:

Section 25 of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) states that:

  • A young person has the right to counsel without delay at any stage of the proceedings.
  • Every young person has the right upon arrest or detention to be informed immediately, by the arresting officer in charge, of the right to be represented by counsel. The officer must also give the young person an opportunity to obtain counsel.

Other resources:

Youth criminal
Please note that these are external links and Legal Aid Ontario is not responsible for their content.



Preparing for court

Youth who need to attend court should read CourtPrep.ca